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Shopping for Antiques Pieces: What to Rescue & Restore

Shopping for Antiques Pieces: What to Rescue & Restore

, by Amy Howard, 4 min reading time


One of the most exciting parts of creating a beautiful home is finding pieces you can’t wait to spruce up. Whether it’s at a neighbor’s garage sale or your favorite antique shop, you’ve likely run into something that you just love -- and can see becoming an important fixture in your home.


But the most common questions Amy gets are:


“When I go shopping, what should I look for?”


“How do I know if a piece can be rescued and restored?”


On this week’s Finish Friday, Amy is taking us on a live tour of one of her favorite antique shops to show us exactly what she looks for in pieces before she brings them home.


Look for pieces you can actually use (or resell)


If you’re out antique hunting, it can be easy to get distracted by all the pretty pieces. But before you fall in love with something, ask yourself: Where would I put this? Could I use it year-round? And if you’re a reseller for your refinished pieces, ask yourself: Would someone use this piece? Is it priced so I can make a profit on it? While pricing and reselling your pieces is a whole other discussion, it’s an important quality to keep in mind as you shop!


Make sure it’s in good shape


While the finish and color of a piece is something you can fix, you can’t always fix a broken drawer, leg, or missing pieces. Before you say “I do” to the dresser, table, or other antique item you’ve found, make sure you can open it, move it, and put a reasonable amount of weight on it. This will save you heartbreak when you get home and realize the piece can’t even be used!


Consider what the piece is made of


One of the most important things you should do when you see a piece that speaks to you is consider what it’s made of. Is it oak? Is it metal? Is it plastic? Does it have a wood veneer? Is the veneer intact?


Whatever it’s materials, you will need to make sure that it can be cleaned thoroughly so the proper paint or primer can be applied. Depending on the look you’re going for, a couple layers of Amy Howard at Home’s One Step Paint is great, or you may consider our Furniture Lacquer for a more modern, edgy finish. The Toscana Milk Paint is another great option for pieces you want age authentically. You can decide which one is right for your piece based on the material it’s composed of, your desired finish, and the overall style of the piece – do you want a more antique, matte finish or a modern statement finish? Amy gives her tips for different materials and styles in today’s Finish Friday broadcast, so make sure to check that out!


Consider how old it is


Another great tip Amy shares in the video is to consider the age of the piece you’ve found. In most furniture created or used in the 1970s and ‘80s, Liquid Gold was used to seal the stain and paint. This sealant is very oily and hard to clean, which means a simple scrub won’t help you refinish it. You’ll need to use a stronger product like Clean Slate to remove such materials, as well as to clear off the years of use if the piece has been well-loved.


Have fun with different items


Refinishing isn’t just for furniture! You can use One Step Paint and other Amy Howard At Home products on lamps, mirrors, frames, metal file cabinets, clay pots, and virtually any surface you find during your antiquing adventures. Amy’s last tip is to find pieces that you love – that will make the process of finding, refinishing, and using your “new again” antique all the more fun. Check out this week’s Finish Friday video to tag along with Amy as she goes on her weekly antique hunt, and to get more tips on how to transform your own finds.




Curious about how to properly clean and prep your new finds? Stay tuned for next week’s Finish Friday on Facebook where you can see all of Amy’s tips and tricks for starting a new refinishing project! We go live every Friday at 12pm CST.



  • Since I’m new to your products, would you please tell me what video to watch to learn more about the milk paint you have mentioned. I’m not familiar with it so any info you are willing to share will be gratefully accepted.


    Laurie Morrow on

  • Great episode!! So very helpful and fun, too!


    Peggy Lyn on

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