Hello, my friends!
Time for a little quiz for all my antique lovin’ buddies…!  Let’s see if you can relate to any of my top five requirements for true vintage lovers.  πŸ˜‰  Our community is made up of some of the BEST people, and I want YOU in it, too!  Let’s see how many you can relate to!  (All in fun, guys.  All in fun.  😊)
Okay, here goes:


ONE: The Thrill of the Hunt

In today’s world, it’s sort of a strange feeling to know you want a thing, know you have saved up money for the thing, and then…to WAIT to buy the thing, rather than hopping straight onto Amazon to have the thing shipped to your door in two days or less.  You know?  The waiting and the thrill of the hunt are such exercises in patience and learning to only spend money on what you truly love.  These are not easy lessons, nor do I follow them with all types of purchases (spontaneous and immediately regrettable purchase of neon turquoise suede stilettos, I’m looking at you. 😩 πŸ˜‚)  However, my most beloved treasures were long sought and hard-won, and I think that’s what makes them TREASURED, if that makes any sense at all!


CottonStem.com best farmhouse vintage furniture finds diy fireplace insert
(Vintage French tufted chairs from an estate sale later chalk painted white….to mixed reviews πŸ˜‚, and this gorgeous 1800’s fireplace mantel hunted up on Craigslist.  You will die when I tell you how much we paid.  $300.  πŸ™€  These go for triple the cost most places!  Holy moly, worth the wait.)


CottonStem.com best farmhouse vintage furniture finds(My ever-growing collection of tiny vintage bottles, mostly in shades of pale blue.  I love picking up one or two for a steal each time I’m out pickin’ at the shops, and these little beauts eventually turned into some funky DIY “chandeliers” [HERE] that you may have seen in different places in the house!)


CottonStem.com vintage farmhouse finds cottage style coffee table cart
(Another quirky vintage treasure in our home is this old, chippy hand cart that we turned into a coffee table a few years ago!  We had the large handles sawed off and smoothed, and I cleaned it and added a few coats of Minwax Polycrillic to seal in the paint chips.  It’s such a statement piece, and I love the memories of going antique shopping with my mother-in-law that day!)


TWO: The Story of the Day and Who Was With Me

Another thing I love about filling my home with vintage farmhouse style pieces is remembering the story of the day and who was with me when I found that perfect piece.  I go pickin’ at the antique shops with my husband, my kids, my mom and sister, my mother-in-law and some of my close friends, and each time I stumble upon THE ONE, I love that I’m always reminded of that special time with my people while we were out shopping!  Sounds kind of silly maybe, but I can honestly remember when, where and who I was with when I look at certain pieces around the house, and that makes me smile.  Love my people. ❀️



CottonStem.com vintage farmhouse finds cottage style bedroom decor shiplap headboard(There are the bottle chandeliers I mentioned earlier, and these old wood slat church pews were another score made with my MIL!  I remember I was in quite the haggling mood that day and feeling extra sassy, so let’s just say I got these for a steal.  πŸ˜‚)


CottonStem.com vintage farmhouse finds cottage decor postal sorter wood sign
(Okay, this antique wooden postal sorter used in the early 1900’s is one of my coolest finds to date, and this piece also forged a sweet friendship with the shop owner at one of my favorite vintage stores!  She has helped me source so many cool treasures for me and for my design clients, too!  Love how this stuff brings people together.)


CottonStem.com vintage farmhouse finds cottage decor rae dunn collection ironstone
(Another awesome Craigslist find is this French style vintage cupboard that we affectionately call The Beauty and the Beast cabinet.  Doesn’t it just look like it’s about to burst into song at any moment?!  πŸ˜‰  Because the inset glass was broken in the doors, we stole this lovely hutch for under $100, and I just added a bit of chicken wire to the doors for now…to keep tiny fingers off of my Rae Dunn collection!)



THREE: Weathered and Rustic Charm That Can’t Be Replicated

These days, you can find beautiful replicas of vintage items just about anywhere, but there is just something about the weathered details, chippy goodness and rustic charm that can’t be duplicated, no matter how nice the vintage-inspired piece might be!  I have many vintage-inspired finds throughout my house which add to the overall style I’m going for, but my true blue antiques with their worn in spots, their dents and dings, their homey history…those pieces have my heart.



CottonStem.com vintage farmhouse finds cottage decor antique fireplace mantel chippy paint(Saved from a farm fire, this vintage fireplace mantel was one of the only salvaged pieces to come out mostly unscathed from an 1800’s farmhouse nearby.  You can see where the old farmer tried to strip the paint and fix it up for sale, but then it was all just too much and he left it halfway finished.  We bought the pieces as-is, and I actually love the weathered, antique bits and imperfections, included the halfway stripped paint.  Somehow this mantel was spared from the fire for the most part, and I’m so glad it was!  Such a historical treasure.)


CottonStem.com vintage farmhouse finds antique decor farm table fall pumpkins
(For SURE, one of my most hard-won vintage victories was this 150 year old farmhouse harvest table that slowly made it’s way from New England to the Oklahoma area by being passed down in a family from generation to generation.  If you are an Instagram friend [HERE], you know how long and hard I searched for the perfect vintage farmhouse table, and this beauty was the one that captured my heart in the end!  You can see the scuffs and knife marks on the surface from when the farmers would bring in the harvest to sort and chop, and the original maker’s initials are carved into the table from over 150 years ago. I LOVE THAT!!  Plus…those sexy, curvy legs never hurt nobody…😍)



FOUR: The History and Story Behind the Piece

While we can’t always know every little detail about each vintage treasure we score, it thrills me to my core when I can somehow trace the item back to its origins, just like our antique farm table pictured above!  It might sound silly, but it almost feels like it’s now my job to preserve that piece of the past and it’s story, to not forget times and traditions of the past, and to try to repurpose and revive the piece while still honoring its history.  Vintage lovers will get this.  We’ve been entrusted with a moment in time, a glimpse of days gone by, and it’s ours to treasure and protect!



CottonStem.com vintage farmhouse finds antique decor cathedral cabinet ironstone collection
(If you read the romantic story behind this piece over on my Instagram [HERE], you’ll understand why I swoon a little each time I pass by this vintage cathedral cabinet filled with my antique ironstone collection.  I’ll not soon forget the story of how this hutch made it’s way into my home and heart! ❀️)


CottonStem.com farmhouse vintage finds copper and navy wallpaper antique eastlake bed
(After stalking this vintage Eastlake bed for months, the price dropped to $70…and it was MINE!!  Our guest room redo includes so many vintage treasures like the bed, the huge copper pendant light, those antique copper molds, and the vintage linens to boot!  Basically this room is an ode to antique, and I love that our guests get to soak up all this history!  Wallpaper [HERE])


CottonStem.com vintage farmhouse finds cottage decor summer lemons
(My antique dough bowl was shipped all the way from eastern Europe, and ’tis massive.  The kids think it is a canoe.  πŸ˜‚  Similar one [HERE].  I couldn’t find one that I loved around here, plus they were getting marked up SO high!  Not paying $400 for a dough bowl.  Geez!  So…I just went to the source of many of the true primitive dough bowls!  You can find so many true antique treasures from sellers on Etsy, so if you’re coming up short or don’t like the high mark up in your stores, check there!) 

FIVE: The Vintage Lover’s Tribe

We are a unique breed, the vintage lovers, and I can’t explain the fun of meeting another person who loves junkin’ around for old crap as much as I do! πŸ˜‚  The community of pickers and antique appreciators is made up of some of the sweetest, most talented and stylin’ people I’ve met, and I love that I can just say words like “ironstone crackle,” “chippy goodness” and “NFS”…and my people GET IT! πŸ™ŒπŸ»  Always feels good to be part of a community of awesome people (you guys!), and my tribe is exactly that! ❀️



What do you think, buddies?  How many of the above rang your bell?  Are you a vintage lover yourself, or does your friend/mom/spouse drag you along through countless dusty shops searching for old crap?! πŸ˜‚  Do you relate to any of the reasons why I personally love old pieces with history?  I’d love to chat with my tribe…leave a comment below!



(*While most of these items are one of a kind antiques, many others can be found online, which I’ve linked below.  Some affiliate links used.)


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  1. Lisa says:

    Oh yeah!!! I can totally relate to all of those!!! And I’ll add one more, it’s that “rush” you feel before you walk into that flea market, antique store, GW! The excitement of what you might find! The best is finding someone else who “gets it”.

  2. Jen says:

    My husband and I have Thursday afternoon lunch dates every week along with digging at some of our favorite anqtiue shops searching for vintage treasures. I look forward to our Thursday treasure hunts.

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh I love that so much! My hubs also enjoys going hunting with me. We picked some good men, I’d say. πŸ˜‰

  3. Ryan Weber says:

    Yes…to all!!! I love antiquing and junking. I am not a haggler…so in that part I fail! I have yet to find the perfect junk haven to frequent, but I am always on the search in my area. And I definitely get the rush of being so excited about what you find! (Favorite recent find is a vintage sled that has everything original still in place! 😍)

  4. Justine says:

    Yesssss !!πŸ™Œ Chippy rusty old I live for the hunt !

  5. Catherine says:

    With you in every part of the tribe! Started w my mom loving a good family piece and refurbishing a thrift store new-to-us piece! It’s always the thrill of the hunt and the satisfaction of having the unique!

  6. Mary Lemon says:

    I relate to all of them but I’ve always wished that I could see all the people who owned a piece and the different “looks” of a piece. I love finding really different kind of funky pieces. And yes reproductions just aren’t the same.

  7. Rachel Smith says:

    Yes!!! They all are sooo true! And man…vintage lovin life is the best life! I truly wouldn’t want it any other way πŸ’›πŸ’›πŸ’›πŸ’›

  8. Holly says:

    Hi Erin,
    I can totally relate to every question in you quiz. I am new to this but I am abscesses. It all started because I wanted to paint my oak cabinets white and redecorate the house. After 20 years it was time, anyway I love you blog and Instagram feed. Have a great night.

  9. Abbie says:

    Oh I love this post!!!!
    I can totally relate with everyone of your words and love for vintage ❀️
    So many of my pieces are hard won and long saved for and I feel truly grounded when junking 🌺
    The soul and story behind pieces makes my heart and soul sing and think it is so important to have the community we have that feels the same, these pieces need to be kept and passed on.
    I love how even my young ones will stumble across something and just know if mum will like it… although my husband doesn’t get it hehe πŸ˜‚
    But he knows my passion and let’s me be creative with all the (junk) as he calls it
    Love your posts blog and page Erin 😍 Keep inspiring πŸ’•

  10. Sandee says:

    Oh yes, not only do I love vintage, It’s in my IG name. My home has many antique, vintage pieces. Several handed down thru my husbands family. Each of those pieces we wrote the history of it and keep it hidden somewhere on the piece.
    Other chippy, vintage pieces my husband has actually found in the many mining district throughout the great Mojave desert.
    Others from antique shopping on vacations we take. I love them all.
    Happy to share in the love. πŸ˜„πŸ˜

  11. Piper says:

    Yes! You are so right! The thrill of the hunt is the best part! I have an empty living room because I can’t find the exact pieces I want for it. My husband asked me if it will ever get decorated and I keep reminding him that I am hunting all the time😊 Love your found treasures πŸ’•πŸ’•. Happy huntingπŸ˜‰

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh man, it’s so much better to wait and find THE ONE, right?! I totally get leaving a space empty until the perfect piece has been hunted up!

  12. Shelby says:

    Yes, yes, yes! To all 5. Especially two & three 😍 I love this post and I love the VLT (Vintage Lovers Tribe – new thing? I’m thinking so)! So much gorgeousness in rustic, chippy, vintage goods!

  13. Debra says:

    NFS AAAAAAHGGGGGGH! Kills me every time. WHY? WHY?! But I want it, Daddy !!!!(best British accent and Willy Wonka reference).

  14. Erica says:

    Yes to all of these! I feel my heart go to my happy place every time I go to an antique store, flea market or estate sale. Even if I don’t buy anything that day I love learning about the history of items that I see. Since moving out of my home state I have yet to find my junkin partner, but hoping I will soon.

  15. Claudia says:

    Hi Erin,
    I totally do! Treasure hunting and repurposing has been in my family for generations I think its in my DNA. My grandma started because she didn’t have much money when she migrated to the US divorced and with 5 children so she was forced to get creative. She still lives and my dad takes her thrifting when her health permits. She is still the most creative and ingenious decorator I know. My father learned from her and when he married my mother she eventually became hooked! And they passed it along to all of their 5 kids, we all do it but I am the only one that is attempting to make her hobby a business. Some of my fondest memories with my parents as a little girl and also as an adult are while treasure hunting. I cannot explain how happy and relaxed it makes me feel! I love the thrill of the search and the find and the company, just the whole experience. And if its on cold and cloudy day with a hot coffee in hand, hello! Heaven πŸ˜‰ I recently relocated from Switzerland back to the California and I finally get to share these sort of experiences with my husband and baby boy and make this long time dream come true. At first my husband didnt get it but so far they love them except when I wake them up too early! Lol
    Thanks for sharing your blog! It was like I was reading my thoughts! Aw the thrifting life 😊
    All the love and please keep inspiring us πŸ˜‰

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh I love this backstory so so much! And I completely relate to your descriptions of a day spent pickin’ in the shops, coffee in hand. LOVE!

  16. Erica Jessop says:

    This post is exactly the summery of my vintage life. I love walking around vintage stores or markets to find that perfect piece for my house or for the houses of others-often vintage pieces that have a modern leaning for their age. Currently, our barn is full of vintage pieces awaiting placement as our home is remodeled (is there a word for remodeling a home back to its original character?!). πŸ€” Anyway! In short-YES! I think we could hang.

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh that is awesome! I love the hunt, and I think it’s so cool your are sort of restoring your home backwards–such a cool concept!

  17. Tanja says:

    Haha! Totally relate to that! And the eyes bright in excitement when entering an antique shop or flea market.. My family makes fun of me, calling it ‘Alice au pays des merveilles’! (Alice in Wonderland..?) πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜…πŸ˜‚

  18. Tammy Ulmer says:

    Started my own estate sale business in January, and this past weekend held my first, of many, liquidation sales of a 40000 sf, 50 year old antique business. After 6 days, and THOUSANDS of pieces sold – if you walked in to the store today you’d never know we sold a single item. Every piece simply amazing and authentically antique! Will hold a dealers sale soon on the THOUSAND of pieces still waiting to be “picked!” I’m certain we have several small blue vintage bottles left. πŸ’™ Love everything you do !!!!

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh my goodness, how awesome is that?! I need to go to more estate sales. I bet the coolest stuff can be found there!

  19. Tammy Ulmer says:

    Started my own estate sale business in January, and this past weekend held my first, of many, liquidation sales of a 40000 sf, 50 year old antique business. After 6 days, and THOUSANDS of pieces sold – if you walked in to the store today you’d never know we sold a single item. Every piece simply amazing and authentically antique! Will hold a dealers sale soon on the THOUSAND of pieces still waiting to be β€œpicked!” I’m certain we have several small blue vintage bottles left. πŸ’™ Love everything you do !!!


  20. Lindzie says:

    I l looooove vintage and Antique decor/furniture ! I recently found an antique fireplace mantel identical to the one you have in your dining room in SanFrancisco for a steal! It is my favorite find to this day and I found it on Craigslist. I also take my 10 year old son and 5 year old daughter with me and they try to help me find treasures. It’s kind of out little hobby.

  21. Amy says:

    I love to know the story and history of the item. I am the same way with an old house. It is something special to have that piece from days gone by and to treasure that piece of history in your own home.

  22. Aren says:

    Yes! I love giving things new life. I bought my first house 3 years ago and was able to completely furnish it with antiques, facebook finds, and items passed down by family members. I thought it was a pretty cool task to make the space cute and stylish on a budget and with items not everyone else can find.

  23. Ashley Schnabel says:

    This is me. We recently built a new home and we knew we needed to fill it with “treasures”. My husband and boys “treasure hunt” with me, and the 9 months while we waited during he build, we hunted. We had a beautiful giant box house, perfectly painted and square, and we have worked hard to fill it with Chippy Goodness!!!! We knew this house wouldn’t inherently have character, so we made it our job to breathe life into it with our vintage finds! @Schnabels_downthelane

    Thank you for your continued design inspiration and positivity!

  24. Erin!

    I love, love learning more about your found objects! That’s my term for unique finds sourced with passion.

    As an antiques shop owner, it makes me happy to know that other people, such as yourself, still enjoy the thrill of the hunt, love learning about the history of the pieces, embrace the beauty of patina and character, and want to connect with local shop owners and artisans.

    Thanks for this post!
    PS – Love your coffee table, which I’ve told you before πŸ™‚

  25. Corinne says:

    Oh love this blog post! I have a whole shelf of vintage bottles πŸ€— I find them at flea markets, and most of my collection actually comes from my father in law whenever he’s digging around the yard! It’s so awesome! I definitely love the hunt, and thank you for sharing your home with us! 😘

  26. Lynda says:

    YES! I love junk huntin!! I grew up on a large farm in Arkansas (surrounded by cotton fields & sunflowers) & now own a small 6 acre farm in Tennessee. I never would have dreamed that “farmhouse” or “vintage” would be in style. Everything we owned was white & chippy. I still have my grandmothers handmade quilts, her wedding china, some of her jewelry & even her Sunday church hats & handmade linens & pillowcases. We had a huge clawfoot tub (complete with the rust stain from having well water) & I’d love to still have that massive piece of heaven!!!! Lovin your site & your stories. Thanks Erin

  27. Jane says:

    Hi Erin, I saw your stories and had to check out your quiz! I love vintage…became a vintage dealer after I moved to the South from the West Coast of Canada. The history got me…now our house is filled with stories and my barn is filled with junk. Thank-you for inspiring others to add a little vintage & I love your finds!

  28. Jana Graf says:

    Yep! You nailed it. Great post!

    NFS slays me every single time. It’s like a stab to the heart. Although, it never stops me from trying….πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  29. Grace Rogers says:

    The thrill of the hunt for sure is what gets me. The antique weathered round coffee table that used to be a kitchen table, the weathered farmhouse dining table we got for a steakl down to the antique light blue medicine bottles that I love to incorporate in my decor. Love vintage but love to mix it up with modern too…

  30. Julie says:

    Hi! Love your home, especially your faux fireplace. Do you recommend treating old finds for bugs before putting in your home?

  31. Janie Gattari says:

    NFS πŸ˜‚ Why is that the first and most time the only thing I wanted in the booth! VLT problems! Oh well you just keep it I will find a better one cheaper! πŸ‘Š

  32. Beth says:

    I know this post is from a year ago but I’m new to the party. I love your vintage style and have always cherished the history of antiques. I adore having something unique. We have the best antique mall close by. If you are ever in the CIncinnati area it’s worth a stop. It’s Ohio Valley Antique Mall located in Fairfield. I spend hours in there on the hunt for treasure.

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