Shea’s Guide to All Things Vintage

Some new tips and tricks for those that love the old.

27 April 2023 -

We’re big believers in the notion that interior design is all about telling a story within your home. When a guest walks in, they should be a little closer to understanding who you are and what you care about. Each corner, vignette, and piece of furniture in a space speaks to the narrative of who inhabits the home, creating an interesting, juxtaposed conversation that echos throughout the walls to make a house a home.

Vintage pieces have a way of saying “come on in, pull up a chair, take a seat,” creating layered, lived-in spaces wherever they are placed. They tell a story of history, of collection, of intentional curation, and Shea and the design team use them in nearly every design project they take on.

To many, vintage shopping, the hunt of that perfect piece, is an intimidating endeavor. And we get it! One of Shea’s most common tips for places like Round Top is to wear comfortable shoes because the amount of vintage shopping you can do is massive. How in the world do you narrow it down to one vintage piece that speaks to you? While our McGee & Co. Vintage Collection is a good place to start, we also want to arm you with the knowledge you need to go out and do some vintage shopping on your own, so we sat down with Shea to talk all things vintage and answer some frequently asked questions on the subject.

If you’ve ever wondered about how to successfully undertake vintage shopping, read Shea’s Q&A below for all of her best tips and tricks, and browse some of our most recent projects to get inspired for integrating pieces with a story into your home.

What do you love about vintage pieces?

I love that vintage pieces add soul to a home. The nicks, dings, and grime tell a story that no other piece can tell. When we incorporate vintage pieces, their rarity makes it hard to replicate, giving the home a personality of its own. I use the word texture a lot, but I’m not just referring to textiles. I think the patina of vintage pieces adds layer and texture to a space.

Do you ever buy vintage pieces online? If so, what are your favorite sources and how do you ensure that they are good quality without seeing them in person?

Yes! I enjoy the thrill of the hunt, so I genuinely enjoy digging through sites like Etsy, eBay, 1st Dibs, and Chairish for hours to find the perfect piece. You win most of the time, but I’ve had a few losers. If you’re unsure about something, ask the vendor to send additional pictures before purchasing.

I think the gateway pieces into vintage buying are rugs, textiles, decor, and small furniture. Buying the larger pieces is a bigger investment, and they often need a bit of repair (wobbly legs, rewiring light fixtures, etc). I love the look of reupholstering vintage furniture, but I do it a lot less often than using accent pieces.

A lot of vintage pieces have some wear and tear even if they are great quality, does this turn you away or does it add to the character of the piece?

I think it depends on the amount of wear and tear. I love a little bit of chipping paint and the look of a timeworn piece, but large gauges or broken legs are more than I have time for and they certainly don’t elevate a space.

How important are the bones of vintage furniture?

Bones are everything when shopping for vintage pieces. They can always be refinished if needed, but you can’t change the shape.

What is your favorite vintage piece you have in your home, and what is the story behind it?

That is like picking a favorite child! I love them all. We were living in our first rental after selling our home and moving to Utah to start Studio McGee when I found our living room rug. I went to High Point Market and got lost in the vintage rug section and started flipping through under the guise of buying them for clients. I found this rug, and it was so beautiful, so I bought it and have been storing it in our basement for the last four years. Syd didn’t believe me when I told him I would use it in our one-day home, but I’m happy to say I proved him wrong and love it just as much now as I did then!

Has there ever been a vintage piece that you loved, but let go that you regret?

I wanted a vintage armoire that I found at Round Top a few years ago and didn’t have a place for it at the time. I should have purchased it because I still can’t get it out of my head and have a great spot for it in our home now.

Do you go vintage shopping with a clear idea of what you want to find, or do you typically pick up random pieces that speak to you?

Both! When designing, I often think, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a vintage (fill in the blank) here?” And then we leave an empty spot for it, get the measurements needed, and start hunting. Usually, while I’m on the hunt for something specific, I get distracted by other things and buy them too.

Date Posted
27 April 2023