I love poking around Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and other home décor stores. They have great stuff, sometimes over-priced, but I always find something I like. The only drawback (other than I can’t buy everything I want) is that no matter what I buy there will be hundreds, probably thousands, of other people with the same candlesticks, ottomans and side tables, probably in the same places in their houses. It’s hard to show off your own style when your neighbor has the same mirror over the same couch!
So what do you do when you like the items you see in the stores or online catalogs but want to individualize your living space? This is where thrift stores, flea markets and architectural salvage places are a dream come true. We’re lucky in Kansas City to have many such treasure troves to hunt around in and find that one-of-a-kind vintage hardware, textiles or wall hangings to compliment our one-of-ten-thousand pieces we also fall in love with.
The River Market Antique Mall in the River Market is a huge vintage, antique and junk paradise. The last time I was there I saw an old painted, wooden fruit crate that would look fabulous holding kindling next to a fireplace. Signs from long-gone storefronts make excellent wall art mixed with family photos in both new and old picture frames. I love going through the piles of costume jewelry, there are some lovely pieces and some funky ones and they will definitely get noticed whether you wear them or as a friend of mine did, turn several brooches into napkin rings.
Bottoms Up Antique Market, Good JuJu and Urban MiningHousewares are only open the first weekends of each month but are worth marking your calendars for. You’ll find gobs of fabulous items from old doors to ancient chandeliers to bird-cages to Elvis posters. Statuary you’d swear came from ancient Greece hides behind dressers and wardrobes pilfered from Scarlett O’Hara. Croquet balls look great in chamber pots and if you find one great window panel you can have three great pillows!
Don’t think that you’ll find only “old junk” in thrift stores or flea markets. I have another friend who furnished a lot of his mid-century modern home with finds from Kansas City stores. That period of Americana loved it’s cocktails; you can score tons of excellent barware! And one side note; if you want to give a truly unique wedding present you can’t go wrong with vintage barware. So whether its Scrabble tiles glued onto barn wood telling kids to “brush your teeth” in the bathroom or stacked antique books on a reclaimed 1960s bookshelf there are so many wonderful things looking for new homes that are truly unique and will show off both your style and your shopping savvy.
Other KC locales for excellent vintage shopping: