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Farmhouse Antique Shopping Tips


I always loved going to my family's old farmhouses in rural Tennessee and looking around at the things they had collected through the years. I dreamed one day of having my own farmhouse filled with my own collection of treasures. 

I love going antique shopping and finding the perfect thing to add to my collection.  But as a minimalist, I also prefer to keep the clutter to a minimum.  That's why I am very particular in what comes home with me from antique shopping. 

Antique Tips

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When antique store shopping, don't expect to leave with exactly what you are looking for. 

If you are looking for a purple lamp with antique brass knobs, you might be looking in the wrong place.  Antique shopping is more of a grab bag of items, you never know what you'll find. 

You might find some great bargains on knobs for your kitchen, as long as you are okay with being creative in how many you get or the designs. 

We have discovered you can shop for antiques online and search a little easier if you know what you are looking for in general. 

Antiques require an open mind and a desire to get your hands dirty

One of my favorite antique pieces in our house is a pie hutch that was about to be hauled to the dump. But when I saw it, I fell instantly in love with its potential. 

My husband and I were helping a friend clean out her father's old row house in Baltimore, and in the basement loaded with his tools and layers of grease and filth, I found this hidden treasure. 

The metal tray pulls out to almost double your workspace, there is a cutting board that comes out too that's still in it! It has little teacup hooks and it's simply my favorite treasure.  But when I found it, my husband wasn't at all happy about taking this smelly filthy monster home in our minivan! 

For a week, I went out in the snow and chilly weather to hand wash it down, and gently blow dry it so it wouldn't warp. Under the gunk was an art deco star, who would live with us and travel back and forth to Seattle, upstairs and down, and become one of my most talked about pieces of furniture in my home. 

antique shopping tips

The hutch is remarkably heavy, and holds so much stuff!!  Currently, it is in my office because I love how it holds all of my photography props, books, and tons of other things. 

The goal to creating a vintage farmhouse look is to collect unique decorator pieces, but not to overwhelm.

Have you ever walked into a home that was wall to wall clutter? There's no space on the walls left, no table without the surfaces filled, and it feels like tiny?

That sort of thing makes me anxious! Whenever I see photos of homes online that is too filled, I just want to go organize and declutter for them! 

Choose items that have meaning, purpose, or bring you joy.  

I practice the One In – Two Out rule. For every new piece I add to my home, two old pieces need to be donated or thrown away.  You would be surprised at home much junk everyone collects when they aren't looking.  And when we practice replacing things we don't really love with what we really want, it's easy to let go.

One of my first antique pieces is that framed art on the wall. She's a girl with butterfly wings, I found her in an antique shop in California about 25 years ago.  I got her for $5 and I've loved her so much in every home she's watched over. 

Farmhouses are perfect for mixing old and new.

I love the feel of well-made antiques.  But some items are much better new.  I recently found a cast iron tea kettle that doesn't make me afraid of getting sick when I use it.  I love using it with my antique teacups, serving trays, and vases.  But it doesn't need to be old to be amazing. 

Antique pieces I always look for:

When I'm out hunting I always look for:

  • Canning Jars
  • Brass Decor
  • Mercury Glass
  • Vases and Bottles
  • Unusual Art


Things I stay away from:

  • Anything electric – I had a lamp catch fire and almost burn down my house.  
  • Anything broken or heavily damaged
  • Anything that doesn't fit with my farmhouse theme 

Antiques have a place in every farmhouse. 

From the kitchen to the bathroom, we know our home has a special farmhouse feel that reflects those fond memories I have of growing up running with the kids in the streams and climbing through dusty attics looking for treasures.  My Great-Grandmother's cousin Ms. Mertil would often ask me what I found in my exploring and from time to time she'd let me take trinkets home, like brass animals and shiny old buttons. 

Now I hope I'm creating a home where our grandchildren can explore and find their own cherished items they might want to take home one day.

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