Vintage Home Boutique

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Tips for buying vintage furniture

18 June, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment


Style is such a personal thing. But I’ll let you in on a secret that fits in with almost every type of décor: quality vintage furniture. Whether you go strictly secondhand or mix in pieces with your otherwise modern decor, vintage furniture can provide that extra splash your home really needs. The best part? There won’t be any other room with the exact same set up: Vintage furniture is generally so unique and one of a kind, that you will likely be the only one on the block with that item. If you are selling a home, it is something that will make your Toronto home stand out even more in this hot real estate market and that may result in a higher selling price or a quicker sale. If you are still hesitant about vintage furniture, check out our post Why buy vintage furniture?


Know Your Vintage Furniture:

If you’re in the market for vintage pieces, a little research can go a long way. Searching the net is the easiest way to get to know designers, styles and materials to look for. If you come across a vintage piece and want to know more, look it up! or is a great online resource filled with tons of design history and a comprehensive designer research section, complete with images and designer histories. The key to finding great vintage furniture is to determine what styles and time periods speak to you, and then doing your best to learn what you can about them. Perusing a site like for images and inspiration can be more than just indulging in some design eye candy; it can also be a fun way to discover the eras that you’re drawn to so you can shop accordingly. "The Find" by Stan Williams is another great resource complete with insider tips from some of the top designers. Also know your local market. Mid-century is very hot right now. In some parts of the country (Montreal & Vancouver) you can't find it at all. That demand greatly elevates prices. So be realistic about the demand in your neck of the woods. For those in Toronto and Ottawa, take heart, supply is tight but reasonable.


Where to buy vintage furniture:

If you’re not in Toronto or you don’t have a great local furniture store like ours (! The Internet can be your best friend. Here are some rules of thumb we use when buying for our home:

VHB Rule #1: Know your measurements! Most sellers should be more than happy to answer any questions you have about size and quality, so if you aren’t sure, ask! We have been asked so many interesting sizing questions over the years. We are thrilled to answer them because we realize our customer’s time is valuable. Plus we want every customer to have an amazing experience and get an item they will love for years.

VHB Rule #2 Patina is definitely not a bad thing. It’s called character. It’s a result of using all-natural products and quality hardwoods. Over time, solid wood products will naturally develop a sheen which is characteristic of the aging process. This mellowing of the surface is acquired by solid wood products through age, use, dusting, and polishing. It is a good reflection of the age of the item and really cannot be reproduced or enhanced. There is great debate over whether items should be refinished or not. We think that beauty is in the eye of the beholder so it is up to you and what you prefer.

VHB Rule #3 Ask questions. Most vintage stores should be able to advise you on what has been done to the piece. Just like a home, the item may have been modified over time, so be sure to ask. You may just find out a really cool story behind the vintage furniture if you do.

VHB Rule #4: Don’t be afraid to refinish. We have found some of the best pieces require a bit of work. Size, quality and lines are more important to us. If you don’t have the time, space or just don’t feel confident doing it? We would love to help you with our eco-friendly refinishing service.


Tips and Tricks for buying vintage furniture

Hunting for quality pieces can be a whole lot easier if you know what to look for. We’ve put together a little cheat sheet with some quick and dirty tips for your vintage shopping pleasure.

  • Wood and build quality. There is the obvious details which indicate if a piece is from a bygone era:
  • Dove tail joints on drawers:
  • Solid woods: teak, walnut and mahogany are sought after right now. But oak and pine in primitive furniture is also quite striking.
  • Doors, drawers done entirely in solid hard wood.
  • MDF was not manufactured widely until 1966 and while particle board was in use at the turn of the century, it did not get wide spread use in furniture until the 60's.
  • Style: Is it Art Deco? Is it mid-century modern? What about primitive, traditional, French provincial? Having a general idea of what you like, will assist you in your search. Also don't be afraid to mix styles!
  • Is there a mark from a manufacturer or designer? Better quality furniture will often have a manufacturers mark. This is a great place to start your research. You can find out what they were famous for and styles. You can also find out if they took any shortcuts. In addition there may be a mark from the designer. This is usually something to search out. Designer pieces will always have value. Either with collectors or due to their esthetic value.
  • That said, don’t be afraid to mix styles and woods. If you take a look at some of our in store vignettes or images such as these in or you can see that blending woods and/ or styles can enhance the overall esthetic of the room
  • mixing wood styles and tones can add depth and character while enhancing the overall beauty and sophistication of your decor.


  • Finally, if you really love something, buy it. The best thing about vintage is that it’s typically one of a kind; if you adore it, do not let it get away. Trust us, you’ll regret it if you do. Someone else will grab it and it can be years before you encounter another one in the condition and size you are looking for.
The images within this post are from and

Earth Day: Don't throw it out - Repurpose or Refinish it

22 April, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Every spring it seems to increase in volume - people put their less-loved furniture pieces to the curb, banished to the garbage dump. The finish has lost it's luster, a leg is broken, a handle lost, the upholstery torn and out of date. And yet if it's solid wood, I'm bound to snatch it up and give it new life, either by refinishing or repurposing - or both, as I did with our bathroom sink base. When we moved into our home 8 years ago, like many older Toronto homes, there was no bathroom on the main floor. We did a little redesign, and found a little space - but there was only room for something small.  Not wanting to resort to a pedestal sink (I wanted storage) I found a vintage cabinet that had been used to store vinyl records. After a little love and refinishing, we ended up with something unique and beautiful. Something that was destined for the landfill found a new home.



Many items can find new life by being re-purposed - an old door turned into a desk top; old picture frames clustered together to create visual art; old crib railings turned into a towel rack in your bathroom.  The possibilities are endless - all you have to do is look online, on sites such as Curbly to get a few ideas. But of course, many of us don't have the time to be crafty or simply do not have the space.  So instead of throwing your items to the curb, try taking them to the Habitat for Humanity ReStores where someone else can find a new use for it. Or better yet, contact us to get a quote on eco-friendly refinishing in Toronto. In honour of Earth Day - before tossing it in the trash - consider refinishing, re-purposing or donating your furniture.            

Spring Cleaning Your Vintage Furniture with Mineral Oil

20 March, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

As the weather finally warms up after a cold winter that never seemed to want to end, you may be thinking about sprucing up your home – inside and out. Before heading outside to tend to a neglected garden, giving everything in your home a good clean and polish may be on your to-do list. Unfortunately, many cleaning and polishing products contain harmful chemicals.  Of course there are a number of ‘green’ products on the market, but when it comes to giving your wooden vintage furniture a face lift, you may not know what to use.  A great and easily accessible alternative to traditional furniture polish, is mineral oil.  It can be found in drug stores, is scent free and can turn almost any piece of dull and scuffed wooden furniture into a piece that looks almost brand new. Simply clean your furniture from residue and dust with a damp microfiber cloth, and then with a soft rag, apply a thin coat of mineral oil, following the grain of the wood, wipe off any excess, and your vintage furniture will be given new life.


Used Vs Vintage Furniture, what's the difference?

12 February, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

For those of you who have checked us out. Thanks for taking the time! The website and store have been taking quite a bit of our time, but we hope to sign the lease for the Toronto #stclairwest space this week and we are already scouting our second and third Toronto locations! Stay tuned for a full post when we do. I've been wanting to write this post for a while now, because I keep getting asked this question. The easy definition is: Generally vintage furniture is used furniture. But not all used furniture is necessarily vintage furniture! Ok you may be thinking slow down Plato, enough philosophy. What exactly does that mean? The way I see it is there are many, many used pieces which have no redeeming qualities: Mass produced with poor quality original materials. No craftsmanship and little design sense. These are items that may be found in the average University residence room.  They were built to fall apart, to keep you buying more every year. This way the cycle continues - indefinitely. 


 ugly couch - this is used furniture!

On the other hand, vintage furniture is made of fine quality materials. It has great lines and designer sensibility. Generally it is copied mercilessly. Don't they say that imitation is the best form of flattery? It's something your family, friends and acquaintances will ask about whenever they are over. It's something that you will (and can) invest in having refinished or reupholstered. It's the type of thing that you will hand down to your kids and they will actually want! Yes Spencer is already eying a desk To me that's the core differences between used and vintage furniture. What do you think?


Mixing wood styles and tones can add depth, character and sophistication to your home


Please note that the couch image was used from the ugly couch contest website and the dining table image is from

Why buy vintage furniture?

03 February, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

I’m sure that many of you are like Maureen and I when it comes to your home — so enamored with it, that you are constantly looking for just the right item. Then you find one and still you want more. Why wouldn’t it be this way? Your home is your castle. The place where many of your cherished memories are made.  So why not choose furniture that is allows you to bring your home to life in a way that you are getting quality at an incredible price point? We'll let you in on our secret: Vintage furniture. Vintage furniture is — for the most part — very well constructed, with quality wood constructions, and with exciting designs. An enticing combination of solid wood construction and bold designs and/ or colours. Vintage furniture was built to last, which means a lot of it — especially case goods (pieces made of wood like dressers, hutches, desks, shelving and dining chairs) — are desirable because they are still in like-new condition today after 50 or more years of daily use. Even upholstered pieces like easy chairs and couches — which may need reupholstering — are still in demand due to their solid wood frame and steel spring construction! Plus the bold lines can seamlessly fit in with today's fabric styles.  Vintage furniture also tends to be far more affordable, compared to buying new. Vintage dining room sets in particular, can be spectacular deals. Do a quick search and compare quality and price for an equivalent quality vintage and new dining set. I bet you will find there to be at least a 50% difference.  Given the price point, this savings could be the equivalent of a family vacation! Saving the planet. I'm not going to get all preachy, but most of us want to reduce our impact on the environment. Vintage furniture is a easy way to do that! Saving something from filling up a landfill, while not buying something which off-gasses or is made thousands of miles away in substandard working conditions, is an easy way to feel like you have consciously made a difference in the world. As much as I would like to rescue every piece I come across, Maureen has decided that we will not buy any more vintage furniture for our home unless we have a designated place for it — which at this point for me means one piece in, one piece out. The good news is I talked her into opening this store:) But it has made me try to concentrate on permanently acquiring only the pieces that I really love and letting the rest go live at some other vintage furniture nut… errr, connoisseur’s… house.

What are your reasons for buying vintage?

Why we started a vintage furniture store

24 November, 2013 0 comments Leave a comment

Her Side:

Working with your spouse can be a challenging and very rewarding experience all at the same time. But with the ever-growing dis-interest in the corporate world and realizing how far I’d come from that small rural farming community that I loved, and how my creative side had become completely stifled, it became blatantly evident, that my career had to change and it was worth the risks that might come my way. And what better way to embark on a new adventure, than to pair my skills with that of my husband. Despite the risks of opening your own vintage furniture store and all of the what-if’s, despite the fact that we’re both still juggling a full-time career while trying to get our business off the ground, despite being parents of an energetic 4 year old and being pregnant with our second child, it has been an exciting and energizing time to say the least. When trying to figure out how we’d be unique from all of the vintage furniture stores that dominate Queen Street, we started with what we were passionate about: Quality, Eco friendly Refinishing and Locally Sourced Products.

Local Sourcing: We love how our neighbourhood has grown. We love our friendly community. We knew that supporting our local economy and our local artists would be key to keeping the passion for our business alive. So, we decided that St. Clair West is the place for our business. And we fit a niche that is not currently available in our area. We hope our business continues to revitalize our community.

Eco Friendly Refinishing: Growing up on a farm, environmental sustainability is never far from my mind and an essential part of who I am. By finding pieces that may very well end up in landfills, repurposing and finding a new home for unique furniture that just doesn’t exist anymore is one way that I feel I can contribute in a positive way in a world where waste is unfortunately only growing. Being pregnant and wanting desperately to start refinishing furniture again, spawned Keith’s search for eco-friendly, low VOC refinishing and painting products. Mission accomplished.

Quality: Both in the products and services we want to offer. The current vintage stores that currently exist all have their benefits. We want to bring it all together and offer a wider variety of products and services to meet every client’s unique needs. We hope very much to be able to meet and exceed your expectations.

His Side:

I’ve always had this not so secret desire to own my own vintage furniture store. Maybe I’m crazy, maybe it’s genetic. My grandparents owned several businesses simultaneously before immigrating to Canada: bakeries, general stores, mines. Even when I graduated from university and started working as a Product Manager at Club Monaco, I loved the store. Helping people (customers) solve problems was something I loved to do. I would re-merchandise the store on breaks or come in early for a shift so I could walk the building, take notes and make things better for our customers. I loved showing people different looks and helping them find the perfect item. Quickly my career took off: Guess, Hbc & Lowe’s. All incredible companies where I learned a lot. But there was just something missing. As my career saw incredible success and progressed, I became aware that I was missing the energy, the passion and excitement of the store. I ran Stores & Districts; bought products; did visual nationwide; even human resources. But in these big companies it was all done separately. It was all about staying in your own “box” and not stepping on someone else’s toes. Working in a big company had me so focused on specific “accountability” that I stopped doing what I loved: Doing many different things to help customers solve problems. We are probably crazy embarking on this journey right now, when we both have great stable jobs, a “high energy” 4 year old and a new baby due in January. But we see a big gap in the market. Why should people in mid town Toronto have to go to the burbs or downtown to get quality furniture and accessories for their homes? Why can’t they go some place local, where they can find quality items at good prices? A place that also does refinishing in a eco-friendly way for their beloved treasures. A place that is warm and friendly; that you can bring your kids in and let them run around. A place that tries to get to know you and will stay in touch. A place that values the local community by showcasing Toronto based artists and manufacturers. We also feel strongly that furniture should last and not cost a fortune. So why?

Reason #1: My amazing wife. She is a passionate decorator who has an incredible eye for design. She can see beyond what something is into what something can truly be. She has a artistic talent with refinishing wood that is beyond description. She is creative, yet detailed and a perfectionist. She is a realist. She is methodical. She is the perfect balance for me.

Reason #2: I’m a bit of a dreamer who loves ideas and decor. I’m creative but definitely not detailed. I love to talk with customers and learn about them. I enjoy selling, as I see it as trying to help a customer find something they will love forever. I love marketing and design.

Reason #3: "disposable" furniture contributes a staggering amount of the total volume going into landfills every year. There is a place for this stuff. We even have some in our home. But imagine if you could get a quality, stylish product for a fraction of the price! I'll admit our stuff is not "cheap". But for the quality, it's incredible value! Long term disposable furniture is costing you about the same. The best part of vintage furniture, is it's generally the same price as a new "disposable" item and you will have it for a lifetime.

Reason #4: We see a gap in the market. You either have really great quality items, that you can’t let your kids and pets near - we aren’t big fans of the plastic covered living room. Or you have lower end items that you begrudgingly buy knowing that within a couple of  years you will be throwing it out. The environmental impacts of everyone doing this is staggering. So we thought what if: Furniture was able to last: update it with paint or upholstery over time. But it lasts. The style should be timeless. It should be such good quality that you can let your kids and pets on it. It shouldn’t cost a fortune. From these reasons, Vintage Home Boutique was born.

Our focus is Quality Furniture and Accessories, Eco –Friendly Refinishing Services, Local Sourcing.