Looking for a beautiful antique that will fit in with your home can be daunting – we've some expert advice to help you out.

It’s all too easy to buy a piece you love, only to get it home and realise that it doesn’t fit with anything else you own – or, equally frustrating, holding off from taking the plunge only to spend the next few weeks regretting it.

Antiques and interiors writer Grant Pierrus, who will be a speaker at the Art & Antiques Fair at Olympia – which runs from 26 June to 2 July, and for which Country Life readers can register for free tickets – is an old hand at finding the right piece to fit the right place. Here are his tips.


Buying antiques: The problems you need to solve

So many of us browse antique markets and fairs and see the most extraordinary one-off pieces that we immediately fall in love with but when it comes to make the purchase we are afraid they won’t work with the style of our interiors at home. We therefore don’t make the purchase and often live to regret it as we go on dreaming about it.

Or on the other hand, we often buy something purely because we love it and ‘have to have it’ and then take it home to it doesn’t work or we have no space for it. 

Buying antiques is something that should take some research and consideration at the very least. They are often expensive purchases that are unique to our individual tastes. They should be treasured and passed on for generations and in order to make sure that this is the case you need to make good, educated decisions.

Step 1: Decide what you actually need

Firstly, I think it’s key to know what you need and if there is a specific item you need or a specific place that needs filling. With this in mind you can go antiquing with purpose.

It’s also a good idea to have photos on hand of the space that the item will go into as well as exact measurements. This will stop you for looking for unnecessarily items and items that just won’t fit.

Art & Antiques Fair Olympia - How to buy an antique

Step 2: Be completely clear about what you really like

This ought to be obvious, but all too often it gets forgotten: I think it is crucial to know what you like.  

What have you bought before that’s worked? What dealers are your favourites? What period are you looking for? And so on.

Art & Antiques Fair Olympia - How to buy an antique

Norman Wilkinson’s Iona Cathedral will be for sale at Olympia

If you are new to the antique hunt a little research goes a long way, and by simply browsing the internet and antiques websites you will begin to see what you like and what you can picture working in the aforementioned space you have in mind.

Nowadays the likes of Pinterest it’s easy to save your ideas and references, then refer back to them when you’re ready to try something similar to what you’ve seen elsewhere. 

Step 3: Think very carefully about what you already have

It’s crucial to be very clear about what you currently have in your home. What are the primary colours used? What kind of materials? Is there a lot of wood? Is it very modern? How would you define your style?

It really helps to have lots of images on hand of your home and space, so when you find a piece you are considering you can really see how well it might fit.  

Art & Antiques Fair Olympia - How to buy an antique

This Lignae coco front top table will be for sale at Olympia

Step 4: Trust your dealer

Don’t be afraid to ask the dealer for their advice. A good dealer will have a good eye to and lots of knowledge, and will be able to help you make the right decisions – for the reputable, it’s not in their interests to push you into buying something you will regret.

Art & Antiques Fair Olympia - How to buy an antique

 Step 5: Always buy what you love

Lastly, and probably most importantly, make sure you really love the item you are considering.

Make sure you love it enough that if you moved to an entirely different home, or even a new city, it would be one of the first things you took with you. If you really love something, you’ll always find a way to make it work. After all interiors are one of the most personal things in the world – and everything you buy should be for you.

Art & Antiques Fair Olympia - How to buy an antique

Grant Pierrus of interiorstylehunter.com will be an expert speaker at the bi-annual Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, which runs from 26 June to 2 July. Tickets normally cost from £15, but Country Life readers can register for a pair of free tickets here. See more details at olympia-art-antiques.com.