Our Designers’ Guide to Antiquing in Upstate, NY

Our Designers’ Guide to Antiquing in Upstate, NY

Our Designers’ Guide to Antiquing in Upstate, NY

New York designers Liz Lipkin and Jesse Turek take us along for an upstate antiquing trip and share their tips for shopping vintage like a pro—from the optimal time to shop to the best street for scores in Hudson.

A trip upstate offers a much-needed chance to escape the city and soak up the bucolic splendor of country life. But if you’re anything like us, you head north to hit up some of the best antique stores in the country.

Upstate antiques fairs and small town dealers are treasure troves of home decor that can be tougher to come by in the city, and Homepolish designers Jesse Turek and Liz Lipkin know where to find the very best. As part of the semi-annual fall Antiques at Rhinebeck show, the duo ventured on a scenic trip two hours north of the city for some fall antiquing, because as Liz opines, “Every room needs at least one ‘something old’ to offset the ‘somethings new’.” Here they’re sharing their insider secrets (and some of their enviable finds).

Take Your Timing Getting There

The early bird gets the bargain—but you don’t have to get upstate too early. As Liz and Jesse discovered, many stores don’t open until late morning or early afternoon, so treat yourself to a leisurely breakfast (there are no shortage of mom-and-pop diners in these parts) before the perusing begins. But as it turns out, there are benefits to lingering at the fair a bit later as well.

“The best time to attend the fair is in the morning before things have been picked over,” Jesse shares. “However, if you shop at the end of the day you might be able to make a better deal.”

And Liz reiterates his point.

“Dealers are more willing to bargain when it means that they’ll have fewer pieces to pack up and take back home with them,” she says. “So if that heavy console that you had your eye on is still around toward the end of the last day, make an offer!”

In terms of the prime time of year to head north, Jesse encourages a visit during the fall.

“It gives me a chance to view the autumn leaves and perhaps do a little pumpkin and apple picking along the way,” he explains. “I also like to check out Storm King Art Center this time of year, which is an open air museum, and catching Field and Supply is another great reason to go.”

Don’t Miss the Annual Antique Fairs

As Jesse touched upon, another perk to visiting in the fall is the influx of annual fairs in the area. You can read all about Liz Lipkin’s visit to Field + Supply—another fall fair with a mix of new, vintage, and antique pieces in Hudson Valley—here. The Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show in Brimfield, Massachusetts is also worth heading up north for in the fall. And the benefits of hitting up the fair in lieu of a brick-and-mortar antiques store are multi-fold. Many of the dealers only show at fairs across the country. Because they don’t have store leases, they don’t tend to mark up their goods as much as dealers with storefronts.

“You can see more than 100 dealers in a single day at an antiques fair,” Liz says. “That many sources in one place is an antique hunter’s dream come true.”

This year, she and Jesse stopped by Antiques at Rhinebeck, a favorite of Jesse that’s held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds each spring and fall and houses 125 antique booths.

“This was my first trip to the Rhinebeck show—it was refreshing and inspiring to see more rustic, colonial, farm, and folk pieces than you typically find in New York City,” Liz explains. “I also liked the mix of high-end and ‘mom and pop’ dealers. And as you might expect, pricing was more competitive and vendors were more willing to make deals with customers.”

In terms of dealers who sell it all, Jesse points to Village Braider, where you’ll just as easily stumble upon a set of dining chairs as you will an oversized cactus from a movie set. And furniture pieces range from farmhouse to mission style, while the accessories lean towards Mid-Century and folk.

“You’re bound to find just about anything that you’re looking for in this booth, and if you don’t, just ask Bruce or David, the owners from Plymouth, Massachusetts, and they’ll scour the country for it,” Jesse recommends. “Now where else will you find customer service like that?”

For Liz—lover of minimalist furniture, pieces with a past, and graphic art and signs—Mary & Joshua Steenburgh’s booth stuck out most.

“They’re New Hampshire based dealers who specialize in signs, primitives, furniture, and accessories,” she shares. “Their booth was curated so that each piece felt like a work of art.”

Spend an Afternoon in Hudson

An upstate antiquing trip isn’t complete without a stop in Hudson—a picturesque antique and art gallery hub that overlooks the river that shares its name.

“It’s known for the antique and design stores that line Warren street, the main strip,” Jesse says. “It’s a quaint and close-knit town, with shop owners bound together by their shared interests in art and antiques.”

A favorite of both designers is Red Chair, a thoughtfully curated space consisting of mainly French, Swedish, and Belgian antiques.

“It’s chock full of vintage home accessories, and kitchenware hand selected by owner Jocie Sinclair during her European buying trips,” Jesse explains. “The thoughtfully curated space is beautifully organized with glass display cases overflowing with vintage silver and trinkets that would be the perfect addition to any dining table. There’s also a very large antique elephant on wheels—it’s worth making a dedicated trip just to see that!”

But Liz advises not to overlook the abundance of stunning furniture pieces amid the sea of striking accessories.

“There are some great pieces of furniture, so don’t forget to look for those, too,” she says. “It’s easy to get distracted by the stoneware and accessory displays because they’re so good.”

She also recommends Vincent Mulford Antiques, which she classifies as a cross between a gallery and an antiques store merchandised with large-scale pieces and found objects.

“The lighting is kind of moody and the atmosphere is subdued,” she describes. “I loved the dramatic vignettes throughout the space, like the contrast between the rustic simplicity of a rusty wagon wheel perched atop a row of elaborate marbled books.”

And if you’re a sucker for curb appeal, you can’t miss Hudson Home, a newly restored charcoal brick building with a striped canvas awning that sticks out from the rest of the Warren Street shops—and fortunately, you can judge a book by its cover here.

“The spacious interiors are just as striking,” Jesse reveals. “The showroom features newer furniture paired with vintage and antique accessories, which is a match made in heaven in my book.”

Scour for Old Treasures That Feel New

The test of a standout antique is how well it translates into the 21st century. For instance, Jesse spotted some oversized vintage planters at the Withington and Company Antiques booth in Rhinebeck that feel just as at home in entryway or a formal garden today as they did decades ago.

“Even though these handkerchief planters were created by the Swedish designer in the 1960s, they’re still current and are ideal for any aesthetic, especially if your space is in need of some major patina and texture,” he explains.

Liz fell in love with a Mid-Century table and set of dining chairs by George Nakashima that still feel equally as current today.

”Nakashima was a master woodworker who celebrated wood’s inherent beauty” she shares. “He had an incredible talent for marrying traditional influences and modern simplicity that makes his work timeless.”

And don’t forget to look for treasures hiding in unexpected places, like in old boxes or trunks.

“This year, I opened up a beautiful Mahogany trunk in which there were four great pieces of artwork of nude etchings hiding inside,” Jesse recalls.

Know When to Be Competitive

The nature of antiquing means that there is likely only one of whatever piece you’re eyeing, so you have to act fast when it comes making decisions—as both designers can attest to, the regret of not buying something you fell in love with is a harsh one. But when you and your friend are equally enamored by a piece, compromise is always the way to go.

“I found a pair of 1970’s still life prints that Jesse and I both liked,” she says. “We each bought one so that we wouldn’t have to fight over who got both!”

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