Vintage furniture has made a comeback in interior design trends, but when decorating on a budget you'll want to know where to find cheap retro furniture.
Retro Furniture Styles
The most popular retro furniture generally falls under the category of "Mid-century Modern," which features sleek lines and minimal detailing. It emerged from the 1920s Art Deco movement and hit its stride in the 1950s and 60s. Other retro furniture from the 60s and 70s is a bit more funky. Think chrome kitchen tables, formica chairs or dining banquettes. Also popular in this time period was Danish furniture with thoughtful wood detailing, especially for the bedroom. Molded plastic chairs in bright colors marked the "mod" look. Consider a freestanding retro bar to impress your guests, or a platform bed to give your bedroom the look of another era.
Popular retro furniture designers and pieces include the Eames chairs for Herman Miller, Fritz Hansen, Mies van der Rohe and his Barcelona collection and Eero Saarinen's Womb Chair for Knoll. Reproductions are available at Design Within Reach, although their prices may not be in reach for all.
Where to Find Cheap Retro Furniture
If you are lucky, you may have friends or relatives with retro furniture pieces preserved in their attics. However, most of us have to work a little harder to find cheap retro furniture. A good place to start is garage sales and estate sales. In some cases, the seller may not realize the value of the furniture and you can score a real Eames chair for under $100. Be sure to get there early for access to the best furniture.
Many people also shop for retro furniture at flea markets and antique shops. Expect to pay more at these places than you would at a garage sale, but there are still plenty of deals to be had. In order to get a really good deal, look for retro furniture that is generally in good shape but requires some repair, such as a desk that needs refinishing or a chair that needs reupholstering. You can complete these restorations yourself or hire a professional to do them rather inexpensively. Use the furniture's flaws as a way to negotiate the price down.
In the digital age, many people turn to Craigslist or similar sites to find vintage furniture, and you can always take the "old fashioned" route and scan the ads in your local newspaper. If you live in or near a large urban area you will have greater access to quality retro furniture, but be aware you may have to make several trips to see the furniture in person before you find exactly what you are looking for at a good price. Always ask to see photos of the furniture first, and again, don't be afraid to negotiate.
Finally, many people resort to purchasing retro furniture replicas. Many stores and websites such as Vintage Looks and Bars and Booths sell such reproductions, which are often much less expensive than buying original retro furniture. Plus, you don't have to worry about damage or making repairs.