It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the names of major designers or the prominent styles of certain eras, vintage furniture can add something joy-inspiring to any home. Whether you’re looking for a rare conversation piece or trying to find an affordable nightstand that matches an eclectic room, there is something for every taste. Mid-century furniture and housewares may be some of the most popular, but there are plenty of other vintage styles available at a deal. Why is mid-century still so popular? “The popularity began probably in the early 2000s. It was cheap and you could decorate for next to zero money,” says Chris Covatta, who owns the online shop VintaDelphia. “Then Mad Men really changed that.”
Now that mid-century is at its peak, pricewise, new styles are becoming more popular. “Generations of designers, artists, filmmakers, they all went with what they can afford. The 80s and 90′s ‘contemporary’ style… a lot of that is affordable now, and you see designers utilizing that now. It’s a question of affordability,” Covatta says.
If you are new to buying vintage, you don’t need to do any serious research before heading out. If you don’t know brutalism from Victoriana, don’t panic: just know your own tastes and see what works for your space. Will it fit? Will you be moving soon and can you take it with you? For expensive items, there may be a resale value that means you aren’t married to the piece. Your needs and lifestyle should dictate what you buy, not trends or designers. Covatta reminds us, “You can find a no-name piece that’s super cool and cheaper and works for you instead of something with lofty prominence or a historically hot name.”
And with the resale market growing in popularity, whether your style is rounded art deco, Danish modern, or curvy contemporary, there are shops across the Philly area to inspire even the new-to-vintage shopper.
Here are the best spots to find vintage furniture and housewares in Philly:
A little pop of fun in Old City, though this shop just opened recently, it’s packed with retro toys, games and unique home decor. The mix of small furniture and art on the main level is nice, but the real surprise is the basement level, where Space Jam merchandise mixes with classic board games.
📍 142 N. Second St., 📷 @afourfootprune
At first glance, the oddities and ephemera at Anastacia’s may not seem like obvious homewares. The memento mori photos and Victorian religious paraphernalia can be too macabre or antique for most. However, treasures abound, from turn-of-the-century magic tricks, to hand-painted tiles and delicate Tiffany lamps. Botanical handbooks, antique lace squares and weighty gem rings sit next to animal skulls and wooden dolls. With imagination, everything in this unusual shop is art.
Hidden off the AC Expressway just outside of Philly, you’ll know you’ve found this extraordinary market by its big pink elephant at the door. And that’s just a hint of what you’ll find inside. More than 100 vendors with specialties ranging from early 1900′s typewriters and memorabilia to 1950s dining room setups, to vintage appliances and home fixtures. Of the vendors, you’ll find specialists like the kitschy Dial V for Vintage by Celeste Guiliano and Downtown Retro’s mid-century furniture. Grab a coffee and schedule a few hours to peruse the 12,000 feet of vintage and antiques.
On a popular shopping street in Collingswood, Clutter is a great stop on a vintage tour, especially for art lovers. Every inch of wall space in this little shop is covered with colorful and interesting canvas paintings, silk scarves, old photographs and other small decor from across decades. This is also a great spot if you’re in need of mid-century barware or looking for a unique gift.
OK, yes, this flea is about an hour outside of town, but the special mix of inventory is worth the trip. Among the over 20,000 square feet of vendors, you’ll find the usual milk glass, pocket squares, and retro clocks, but perhaps because of the proximity to Atlantic City, the halls are also stacked with really peculiar antiquities like boardwalk carnival games, gramophones, large chandeliers dripping with teardrop crystals, and casino machines. This is a fun day trip for an AC history fan.
📍 150 S. New York Rd., Galloway, NJ, 📞 609-652-7011, 🌐 daysofoldeantiques.com
This Fabric Row favorite is a delicate curation of new and vintage home items. Large glass candles sit comfortably next to vintage wicker baskets, and paint-by-number kits are right at home next to vintage porcelain swan planters. Recently reopened, the shop expanded to include Wallflower, a sister shop for whimsical paper and party goods (paper cakes!) that would make Wes Anderson jealous.
Mall Madness, Trouble, Girl Talk… the 1980s and 90s board games of your millennial dreams have not disappeared. They are all here. The small shop is also packed with a large collection of Troll dolls (even the ones with belly gems), My Little Ponys and hologram sticker collection packs. In the back you’ll find a large collection of tiki glasses, lava lamps, and other items for your retro bar.
A really comfortable mix of pre-loved and recreations, Urbanburb is one of the best shops on a really shoppable lane in Manayunk. Glass lamps, blendo glassware, and other vintage trinkets adorn art deco dressers in perfectly rehabilitated condition. This shop spans the decades from the 1940′s to today, also specializes in custom items based on live edge wood slabs mixed with colorful resins that have a retro feel.
A really interesting mix of 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s furniture in a sea of pastels, chrome and glass. Everything in this warehouse is fun, the perfect place to curate home decor that makes you feel good. From “dancing” chrome shelves to wavy mirrors to a large collection of chairs and bar stools, and even bright, shiny barware, you can outfit your entire happy home here. Call for an appointment.
A classic collection of mid-century furniture, meticulously restored and repaired for home use. There are a lot of wood pieces here, from dining room tables to bed frames and headboards to nightstands. But you’ll also find a solid assembly of 1960s and 70s lamps, mirrors and chairs. And you can order custom-made couches and live edge tables, shelves and benches, too.
One of the best places to shop if you’re outfitting a new home because of the sheer variety you’ll find. Jinxed has three locations — in West Philly, South Philly, and Fishtown — and each location carries its own distinct feel. All three have a healthy abundance of large furniture from myriad decades, like art deco dressers, 80s mirrors and plush 70s couches, but also tableware, antique linens, wall art, books, vintage film rolls, and even old movie posters. If you’ve just moved and need to spruce up, it’s a one-stop shop.
📍 1915 Washington Ave., 4521 Baltimore Ave., 1331 Frankford Ave., 📞 814-615-2053 (Washington Ave.), 215-921-3755 (Baltimore Ave.), 215-800-1369 (Frankford Ave.), 📷 @jinxedstore
This studio is worth making an appointment to visit, with a wide range of curated mid-century items in various states of restoration, which means you can fall in love with something and watch as it returns to its glory. Love City has large pieces, full bed frames and headboards, wardrobes, cabinets and dressers, and shelving. Check Instagram for the latest inventory and updates on new items heading for restoration.
📍 4815 Stenton Ave., by appointment, 📷 @lovecityvtg
Very different from the other entries in this guide, and worth checking out if you want something bold. Material Culture specializes in Asian artifacts, with an enormous 60,000 square-foot warehouse of Japanese dressers and benches, folk art, hand-carved wood from China, Thailand, and more, as well as rare books and manuscripts. Check out the back room for an impressive selection of antique rugs and textiles, and be on the lookout for their auctions of rare collectibles.
This is the gold standard of mid-century furniture. From massive, heavy dining room tables with leaf extensions to tall teak wall units and immaculate brasilia cabinets. Saarinen and Eames executive chairs share space with Paul McCobb dressers and black and white wall art; these are the classic pieces you think of when you want mid-century furniture, and an entire warehouse of choices. You can peruse their current stock online, as well, making this an easy experience for anyone new to vintage buying.
The space that houses this vintage furniture collection perfectly highlights how well each item here is curated (the skylight, my god!). Though there are some very special pieces of furniture here, the art is what catches the eye, from exhibit posters to rare prints to brutalist statues. You’ll find some art deco and Bauhaus pieces, but the entire collection has a colorful, post-modern feel to it that will even appeal to maximalist shoppers. And it’s truly expansive: ask to see the bottom floor.
Primarily a warehouse for Kamelot Auctions, the Moderne Gallery takes up a floor of the space at 2220 with some expensive pieces of art that also happen to be furniture. They specialize in the clean, modern work of George Nakashima: sleek wood chairs, benches and tables made from walnut and hickory with live edges, all from the 1960s and 70s. They also feature exhibits of art and ceramics. Call for appointment.
Two floors of space age shapes and colors, with a focus on Danish Modern. Fans of recognizable names will have fun looking for investment pieces here, like Eames, Alvar Aalto, Poul Cadovius, and Herman Miller. The bottom floor is packed with large items while the main floor features decor and art, like original prints and posters, floor-to-ceiling chrome lamps, funky mother-of-pearl table settings and brightly painted ceramic statues. A little bit chaotic, this is a fun store to spend a lot of time digging through.
Everyone in Philly has a Retrospect story that usually involves shopping there as a teen and solidifying their love for thrift. Who can blame them? You can find everything at this South Street tentpole store, from 60s sleeveless tops to random home goods with a funky retro vibe. The shop is only slightly curated, making for that real treasure hunt feel when you find the item you’ve been searching for. Check their Etsy shop for furniture too large to fit in the brick and mortar; smaller items and steep discounts can be found on furniture in-store. And everything over a month old is 50% off.
A mix of retro furniture, streamlined modern art and oddities: There are many gems to be found at this uncurated surprise of a warehouse, and many deals to be had on rare finds. Even the classics here have a bit of an edge like a standard mid-century desk hiding extra drawers and shelves, to bold refinished egg chairs, to bright updates of plastic lawn chairs. Between the furniture you’ll discover 30-year-old editions of Time magazine and even a rack or two of vintage clothes like jean jackets and tees
📍 3101 W. Glenwood Ave., 📷 @searchandrescuedrygoods
The first thing you’ll notice about Thunderbird is that it’s housed in a former church. The second wow factor hits you as you cross the threshold of this largely-oddities and furniture warehouse: Look up and you’ll be met with walls of taxidermy, antique action figures, and Victorian jewelry. Beyond the records and housewares, you’ll also find rare gems like art deco couches and a large selection of mirrors at affordable prices. New items arrive daily.
📍 2441 Frankford Ave., 📞 267-761-4336, 📷 @thunderbirdsalvage
There are many Philly based vintage furniture refinishers and sellers on Etsy and Instagram, but VintaDelphia was one of the originals, and it shows. If you’re looking for large Danish modern pieces to fill your home, like dining room tables and headboards and cabinets, you will find sleek pieces here in perfect condition. Shop online or visit their Germantown showroom by appointment.
📍 5424 Lena St., 🌐 etsy.com/shop/VintaDelphia
Anna Bellini is an artist and writer in Philly who has written for the the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and more.