With a booming trend in rustic furniture and decor these days inspired by hit shows like “Fixer Upper” and “American Pickers,” the market for anything with a vintage appeal is sending shoppers in one of two directions: a retail chain, where pieces are already made weathered, or straight to an antique or thrift shop for the real deal.
Quirky furniture, rustic artwork, and cozy collectibles can all bring some shabby-chic charm to your home, and luckily, the Hudson Valley offers countless antique and thrift shops that deliver just that. From big patterned armchairs and galvanized bar stools to reclaimed wooden window frames, milk crates, and old metal signs, there’s a little something for every corner of the house if you’re up for a day of foraging.
Looking at the valley’s modern farming culture and not-so-modern European settlers building homes here along the river and bringing furniture to fill them, it’s no surprise why the area is a major hub for both antique/vintage dealers and consumers alike. And while you can probably find similarly-styled items between a second-hand retailer and your local Home Goods, the history behind the chipped paint and comfortably-worn surfaces of used decor is something that can’t be found right off a warehouse truck. There’s a nostalgic appeal to thumbing through items that were probably the focal point of someone’s home at some point in time, eventually passed down from person to person until ending up in a store again.
Instead of keeping these items boxed up in the attic (or throwing them away), these stores offer a different fate to imperfectly good housewares that have seen “better” days. Although they may not be brand new, the craftsmanship and design styles of known brands throughout history are highlighted for the younger folks to appreciate for the first time, and for older generations to appreciate once more.
Not only does investing in antique or vintage pieces extend the lives of the resources used to create them, but it also helps keep alive the memories and culture attached to it. As technological advancements are continuously thrown at us, maintaining mantras of the past can be continuously difficult. Keeping the old stuff around reminds us that there’s something special about keeping it simple.
Finding the right rustic decor and furniture for your home is never an easy feat, as the chance of finding a matching pair of end tables or chairs can be slim—but what we can learn from shopping this way is to embrace their mismatched or imperfect details. A chair leg that needs tightening, a small weathering mark on a drawer handle, or a missing pillow stitch…these details mean that the item was given good use. And that should mean something.
Though a family heirloom dresser or a starting-to-rust metal sign may not mean much to everyone, extending the lifeline of a trusty item by purchasing it from your local antique store is probably what its previous owners intended. It may have been extra pocket cash for someone, or a treasured piece that was hard to part with because it was in the family for so long. The fun part about antiquing is that sometimes a story is clear, but other times it’s up to you to continue writing it.