A Guide to Buying Vintage Mid-Century Furniture

You can tell when a vintage style is hot, because retailers fall over themselves to copy the classic design in their new lines. One of the eras that has recently been given the high street homage treatment is vintage mid-century furniture.

Although you can find perfectly fine imitations in shops such as Ikea and the like, there’s nothing quite like owning the real thing. The good news is that there are many original examples of mid-century furniture available to buy, from sideboards and dressing tables to chairs and day beds. You can find examples that still look like new or purchase pieces that need some love and attention. Whichever pieces of vintage mid-century furniture float your boat, this is the Discover Vintage Marketplace guide to buying it and making sure it is the perfect item to complement your vintage home.

What is Vintage Mid-Century Furniture?

Vintage mid-century furniture is a reasonably wide ranging term. It encapsulates products designed and sold in the middle of the twentieth century. Usually, we think of items from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s as being mid-century, but you can often get away with including a decade or two earlier, as long as it fits the look.

In general terms, classic mid-century pieces feature clean lines and simple shapes without too much decoration. There are plenty of woods involved, especially teak, elm and rosewood, but also plastics and metals as well.

To give you some examples, the classic Eames lounge chair is prime mid-century vintage, as are the Noguchi coffee table and the tables, sideboards, chairs and many more products produced by Ercol and its rival G Plan. A lot of Danish furniture from the period is also still highly sought after by mid-century fans.  

Research Your Perfect Mid-Century Furniture

If you like what you see when you browse enticing websites filled with mid-century loveliness, you will no doubt find yourself spoiled for choice. Because what is classed as mid-century is very loose, there are pages and pages of information to trawl through, all adorned with mouthwatering images of some of the most beautiful vintage home items ever made. In order to find the perfect piece for you, you have to take some time to find out what is available and what is most suitable for your situation.

Your budget will definitely dictate the type of mid-century furniture you buy. Prices can vary wildly as some items are more rare or more sought after than others.Some of the original designer items from the middle of the 20th century are still very valuable and can set you back a few thousand pounds. Of course, if you can afford it, then spending between £4,000 and £5,000 for an original Eames lounge chair and ottoman or £1,000 to £1,500 for a genuine Saarinen tulip chair created for Knoll is completely worth it. How often do you get the chance to own a slice of furniture history?

If you do decide to splash out on one of these iconic pieces, make sure that you check that it is an original. Reproduction mid-century furniture isn’t a completely new trend, and there are copies out there on the market. Before spending that sort of money, you need to know you are going to get the real deal.

When it comes to the pieces that were designed with the domestic market in mind, such as those by G Plan and Nathan, the prices are very tempting indeed. A 1960s MacIntosh chest of drawers could be yours for under £150, whilst you can find a G Plan nest of tables from the same decade for under £100. When you consider the cost of even fairly flimsy new furniture on the high street today, you can spend a similar amount and get beautiful, high quality and characterful mid-century furniture that adds a great deal more beauty to your home.

If you can’t stretch to big statement pieces, there are also planters, pictures, lamps, trolleys and many more accessories on offer to bring a slice of mid-century chic into your home without breaking the bank.

Measure Before You Buy

Many mid-century items are bigger and more imposing than their sleek appearance would have you believe. For example, many of the famous sideboards of the period were built to a standard seven foot length. That is a fairly big chunk of a room to use up, so make sure you have the available space before you make your purchase. Although there are smaller versions by manufacturers such as G Plan, you will find a lot more in the larger category.

As well as making sure you have enough space in the room for your new piece, you also need to work out whether that room is accessible enough to easily manoeuvre the item into it. These are well-built, solid items, you don’t want to spend time contorting yourself and it into all manner of positions before it can reach its forever home! 

Ask Questions Before You Buy

At the Discover Vintage Marketplace we ensure that the fantastic dealers we feature provide stock of the highest standard. We want you to be able to shop for vintage online in the full confidence that the goods you buy will be as described and completely to your satisfaction. Even with this in mind, when buying mid-century furniture, it is a good idea to ask questions of the seller to make sure it is exactly what you want.

You can either use the contact details for each trader on their individual page on the website or hit the button that says “Make a Product Enquiry” on the product description in order to find out more. They will let you know the answers to your queries about the condition, whether it has signs of previous repair or restoration and any other details you need to know before you buy your next, beautiful piece of vintage mid-century furniture.