When you hear the words vintage and antique, you might think that they’re the same and that the term is interchangeable. If truth be told, they are in fact two separate and completely different terms when they’re used to describe age and quality of furniture. This is an important distinction to make when you’re looking for vintage or antique furniture.
The word vintage is most commonly used when discussing the age of a piece and this is the correct application of the word. It properly defines something of high quality that demonstrates styles of the past. This can apply to any number of things from bellbottoms to a solid walnut table that you might find in your grandmother’s attic. In the case of furniture, it applies to many types of furniture, which is the most important quality that shows age and high attention to detail.
When you go out shopping for furniture and ask about vintage furniture, the specialty shop may show you a number of pieces and styles, not all of which include aged furniture. The owner may assume your interest lies with a certain style, not necessarily the age of a piece. The selection might be anything from a reproduction of a piece of furniture or a modern piece termed vintage to add a bit of romance to their sales presentation. This can get confusing at times because most of society thinks of vintage in terms of furniture and you could be presented with an entirely different type of style than you planned.
Alternatively, antique furniture has a completely different meaning to the term. Its correct definition pertains to furniture that is at least one hundred years old before it is purchased. Often, this definition is overused by many retail stores stating that items 50-60 years old fall into the category of antique. Unfortunately, many people have come to believe that if a piece has stood the test of time past 20 years, it most likely falls into this category.
The other aspect to consider when furniture is defined as an antique is that it should be in its original condition nor altered in any way. Scouting for antique pieces that are in perfect condition are tough to find, so the definition of antique is often stretched by retail establishments. Hence, many antique stores are often filled with restored vintage furniture.