I can’t be the only one who’s a bit tired of looking at the things in my house, right? It took about 4 months of active looking, but I finally found the perfect Antique desk! It fits perfectly undeer the window in my bedroom. I’m very much looking forward to doing my morning journaling or working on embroidery projects.
The woman I bought it from had purchased it from a furniture flipper a few years earlier, so I don’t know much about it’s history. My best guess, based on the construction and quality, is that it’s 1930s regency revival. The number 1799 is stamped on the back, but any other makers marks were covered up when it was given a thick coat of chalk paint.
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Why Antique Furniture is Better than New
While I could have easily found something pretty from a big online store and had it in my house within days, I really wanted to buy a vintage or antique desk. The main reason I was looking for used peice was sustainability. It is nearly always more environmentally friendly to buy something that already exists intead of something new.
Additionally, furniture made with high quality standards and attention to enviornmental and ethical responsibility is usually out of my price range. I completly respect the work that goes into those peices and beilve they are worth the cost, but sadly, they just aren’t an option for me right now.
Last, I just really love the detail and vibe of antiques. Not even working in the collection storage of museums could cure me of that.
Where I Looked for My Desk
I started out by researching the local market. Buying used furniture is a little like buying a house; you’re limited by the available stock in your area and price is based as much on location as quality. Normally, I would have gone around to thrift stores and estate sales, but it’s still not safe to do so here. So, I was limited to internet only resources.
Quickly it became clear that my budget wasn’t big enough to support shipping, so I had to limit myself to local pickup. Facebook Marketplace was the most common way people were buying and selling used furniture. So, as much as I try to avoid using Facebook, there just wasn’t a better option.
How I Set The Budget For My Antique Desk
After a few days of shoping, I learned a few things: First, most of the small antique desks and vanities I was looking at didn’t have a matching chair or bench. Those that did comanded a premium.
Second, there was a heirarchy of condition. Banged up unpainted pieces cost the last, shabby chic painted peices were more, refished painted or unpainted were the most. I was perfectly happy with an antique desk that showed its age, so I was able to consider peices at the lower end of that pectrum.
Level of detail and style also influenced the price. It’s somewhat subjective, but prettier peices tend to cost more. Aesthetics were important to me, so I knew I would need to factor that into the price.
Based on the above, I decided that a budget of $200 for a desk or $250 for a desk and seating combo would be a reasonable price to pay.
Finding The One Amongst a Million Old Desks
Several times throughout the process I felt like I had found The One. There was the very under budget white desk and stool combo. I lost out on that because something went wrong in the messanging app. And the beautiful carved wood desk was just too far away. Then the out of budget ivory and gold vanity that came with a mirror I didn’t need but no stool.
In the end I lost out on or passed on at least a dozen good canidates. When I found my green antique desk I was more than ready. I fell in love a little when I saw the pictures. However, I didn’t completely completely commit emotionally until I was on my way home from picking it up.
I first made sure the price, size, and condition were all acceptable. I took a final pass through the available options. Then I messaged the seller to set up pickup. I was ready to walk away if they started acting sketchy or had any problems doing a low contact pickup.
Happily, the seller was honest and reasonable. The desk was as described and the pickup was fast. It was a peerfect pickup!
After Issues with My Antique Desk
Once we got the desk home and into my room I knew for sure that I’d made the right decsion. It looked like it belonged under my window.
However, I did notice a bit of a smell that hadn’t been apparent when I picked it up. This isn’t uncommon. In this case, the issue was likely the temperature difference. My room gets a lot of sun and is generally quite warm, which tends to bring out any hidden scents.
At this point, I’ve mostly solved the problem. I started by removing the drawers and spraying them and the inside of the desk with vinigar. This kills a lot of mold typese and helps remove smells. I let this air overnight, then washed the whole thing with some dishsoap and water. After this dried I put baking soda inside the drawers over night and then vacuumed it out.
Once the weather gets nice, I plan on opening all my windows and letting thee desk air out a bit more. However, 80% of the smell is gone and the desk is perfectly useable. Just be aware that this is not an uncommon issue.
Would I Buy Antique Furniture Again?
Even with the wait time and minor scent issue, I still prefer to buy antique over new. Hunting for things and taking the time to nurture them is so much more rewarding than buying from a big box store or website!
Where to Find Your Own Desk
The good news is that there are so many beautiful antique desks out there if you’re looking for one! The bad news is that it will require some leg work (virtual or irl) to find one.
If have the ability to transport it yourself, online market places and garage sales are a great place to look. You’ll have to research to see what people in your area are using to connect buyers to sellers, but it will be work the work.
If you’d rather look online, here are some good places to start:
While there aren’t a lot of matching desk and chair/bench sets on Etsy, it is possible to find some beautiful peices if you look. Shops tend to be either full of highly curated finds or hand refinished peices, so prices do tend to be a little high. Many of the refinishing shops also operate on a commission basis, and only show example peices. Read the listings carefully before getting too attached to anything! See my current list of favorites here.
There are some really unique and beautiful peices of furniture on Ebay. Personally, I’m a little obsessed with this hand painted desk. However, I did find that a lot of items are local pickup only. Prices vary widely, but Ebay culture is much more open to negotiation than other online platforms. So, if you find something you like it never hurts to send a message asking to negotiate!
I kept ending up on Charish when I was searching for a desk. While the prices can be high, they have a lot of hard to find items, like this great 1960s regency style piece. There also were lots of pretty reasonable peices like this cute wicker set.
When all is said and done, I’m so glad I took the time to seak out an antique desk. I’ve been living with it for a few weeks now and I’m still delighted everytime I see it in my room!
If you have any antique peices you love, let me know in the comments or over on Instagram!