When it comes to shopping for vintage and antique items, many people think that nothing goes out of style. But, just like all cultural trends, patterns of collecting go through their own peaks and valleys. And as we approach 2020, here are some of the items, styles, and movements that are on their way out. What we collected with vigor five years ago are being replaced by new interests for collectors.
For instance, we are seeing crystal, metallics, and sleek vintage objects making a strong comeback. These items and others are replacing more feminine and fussy items like heavy curtains, china tea cups with matching saucers, and dare I say, tabletop Tiffany lamps. As Millennials continue to collect antiques and vintage pieces in great numbers, these antiquing trends are definitely moving out of style. When shopping for your next vintage or antique find, leave these three items at the flea market, estate sale, or thrift store:
1. Colors of the 1970s
The styles and forms of the 1970s remain of great interest and quite trendy for today’s vintage collectors. Many collectors are embracing the organic forms and sinuous lines on furniture of the 1970s as well as the Rock and Disco music of the era, as we all known that vintage vinyl is huge with today’s collectors! What’s moving out (Billy Joel sang it best) about collecting all things 1970s is the horrible 1970s recession-era color scheme. That’s right, the forms, patterns, and styles of the Age of Aquarius are still very desirable but most collectors are avoiding the drab and muted colors of the 1970s like avocado green and harvest gold items. These colors are not in favor right now and neither are the dyed green and red leather, tufted wing chairs for that out of date but once seemingly stately office. Likewise, collectors are saying no to the brown, green, and beige wallpapers featuring large images of ferns and other leafy plants in favor of light paint pigments with various materials, like metallics and glass, as wall accents.
Signage is also taking a respite in the world of vintage design and collecting. Sorry American Pickers (a.k.a., those two dealer guys who have tried to convince the collecting public that damaged signs are chic) but this collecting change-over says that your old sign selling days might be numbered. Like signs, those carved word art items and carved names found on 1970s desktops, collectible advertising plaques, and adhesive-backed DIY vinyl signs are no longer trendy. Signs of phrases like “We are Family” in kitchens or “Live Love Laugh” adhered over a basement playroom doorway were introduced in the 1970s are no longer en vogue. What is all the rage is that George Harrison poster from his 1970 solo album, All Things Must Pass and the hoards of vinyl albums that are now worth real cash to collectors. Your vintage vinyl albums and music posters will bring real cash online but the vinyl sign that your Mom and Dad installed to make the playroom look groovy won’t.
HGTV may have redecorated the Brady Bunch house but it is a little too late for some items that characterize 1970s design. Yes, the Asian horse sculpture that has been reproduced in a litany of museum gift shops which also decorated the Brady’s living room is still a vintage icon that collectors are looking for but the colors of the chenille accent chairs are too drab for today’s collectors.
2. Florals of the 1980s
If you ask today’s design-savvy vintage collectors, some of the 1980s items are out of style too. Those flouncy, ruffled high-collared cotton blouses of the 1980s, fancy florals found in furniture and home design are taking a back seat to other 1980s items. In homes where the Material Girl Madonna once sang dance tunes on a turntable and silk flower accessories were popular, the floral explosion found in much of 1980s décor is out, way out. Collectors are leaving cutesy transferware china tea cups abundant with violets and forget-me-nots behind as they choose other trendy home design accents from the era that gave us the Preppy Handbook, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Back to the Future. Remember those vases filled with colorful silk flowers in every shape, size, and color? These silk accents were placed in every room– as a dining room centerpiece, on a side table in a bedroom, on a bathroom countertop. Silk flowers are now being resold and repurposed for crafters on Etsy and in our homes, collectors are selecting a comfy 1980s club chair and a bouquet of fresh flowers from the backyard garden.
What else is out from the 1980s? Out are the overstuffed, upholstered living room sofas and small den-sized love seats covered in fabrics featuring dusty rose peonies, light sky-blue hydrangeas, and sea foam green calla lilies. Just like these 1980s blooming couches and fake flowers, white lace tablecloths and floral-infused window valances are out of style too. Today’s collectors are looking for vintage furniture where flowers are a detail, not a dramatic focus. Those who love the 1980s are collecting iconic cultural objects like cassette tapes, Nintendo controllers, boom boxes, Caboodles, and SONY Walkmans.
3. Light Furniture of the 1990s
What is Light furniture, you ask? Light furniture like today’s fast furniture (inexpensive, easy to assemble, seasonal or disposable furniture) came in various styles and materials in the 1990s. Light colored pine furniture that could be purchased unstained or unpainted was a 1990s design staple. DIYers opted to stain or paint a dresser or side table of pine during the Bill Clinton presidency. Matching pine bedroom sets featured Colonial furniture styles of the late 18th Century with Windsor spindles, batwing hardware, and bracketed feet on night stands and tall chests all in yellow pine wood. Light colored knotty pine was a 1990s mainstay but today this furniture is being replaced by natural edge tables in the manner of Noguchi and Nakashima.
Another 1990s furniture style that is not making its mark with today’s vintage collectors include wicker and rattan furniture. Wicker, rattan, and other basketry-style woven furniture with interchangeable pads once gave a posh and stylish look to screened-in porches and bright sunrooms. Now, it has been relegated to old time, quaint bed and breakfast inns where such throwback furnishings are the norm. If light furniture is out, then what from the 1990s is being collected by today’s thrift store shoppers, estate sale mavens, and flea market flippers? Vintage 1990s wine and woven picnic baskets are all the rage now and so are iconic items from the 1990s including Skip It and Bop It toys, Discman, Gameboy, and of course, Ty Beanie Babies.
When collecting objects from the late 20th Century, some aspects of a particular decade are out, but others vintage items are still very much on the collectors’ radar. Collectors are still amassing wonderful vintage items from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. No matter your collecting interest, always look for good quality, durable materials, and the style that speaks to your era of choice.
I can always help you identify and value your thrift store finds. I can even go shopping with you using your favorite video chat app. Check out the ways.