One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

New Hampshire Magazine’s go-to decor expert offers advice on how to antique right
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TABLE TALK: A painted country table has a rustic and refined look upcycled as a stylish desk and topped with an arched window frame backed by a mirror.

Good ol’ Yankee ingenuity puts us way above the fray when it comes to the modern concept of reusing, recycling and repurposing home furnishings. Finding ways to recast items runs in our blood, and New Hampshire antiques shops are a testament to that tradition.

The state is dotted with great shops featuring all kinds of antiquities from different periods. You’ll find purveyors that cater to every price range and taste level, with fine pieces you wouldn’t dream of updating, alongside bargain finds begging for a little paint and fresh hardware.

In a cookie-cutter world, antiques and vintage finds offer a laundry list of positivity. At the top, originality and uniqueness. When everyone else has a Pottery Barn cupboard, you can own something well-made that’s stood the test of time and can be recast in your own paint treatment if desired. Value can be found in a piece’s pedigree, lower price and ability to be reused to fit perfectly into your home’s design. 

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WET PAINT: A fresh coat of golf course green paint on a vintage chest gives it a current vibe. Accessories with collectibles in a similar shade bring monochromatic bliss.

Going Out Shopping

Make sure to have room in your car for larger finds, along with bungee cords or rope for tying items down. Bring recycled newspaper or bubble wrap for breakables and a tape measure to make sure whatever you find will fit wherever you want it.

Look for items that speak to you — and, of course, that fit your budget. Most shops have a discount price on their objects if you ask, or you can ask the shopkeeper to call the dealer. Be fair in your offer and don’t simply lowball. Fifteen-to-20-percent-off is considered fair and reasonable. 

A great way to usher in a new season and inexpensively up-style your home is using tabletop items filled with flowers. Galvanized containers, glass jars and boxes are all useful for making mini garden displays. Flowering plants, bulbs, herbs and mini shrubs can be combined in a container to create a centerpiece or focal point.

How to Recast

Paint and paper can easily update a furnishing in very short order. Pick a color palette that suits you and add your own personal style to a favorite vintage find.


GALVANIZING EFFECT: Turn a galvanized tool chest into a hip rolling coffee table with storage by simply adding wheels.

Top Collectibles

Be on the lookout for items that aren’t just collectible, but also have multiple uses.  

Galvanized farm containers like milk pails and grain bins make clever seasonal planters.

Glass storage jars can be reused for fresh flowers, terrariums and candle holders.

Vintage picnic tins and baskets are great for storage or portable gardens.

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DISH GARDEN: A wire garden spire becomes a stand of floating shelves for a collection of vintage ironstone dishes. Restyle easily with a fresh mix of pottery.

Categories: Antiques, Home & Garden