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How Antiquing Pros Shop for Treasures

We followed two experts around as they shopped decor, picking up a few tips and tricks along the way.
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Barry Williams and Kaitlyn Coffee
Elizabeth Lavin

How Antiquing Pros Shop for Treasures

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We spent a day antique hunting with two aficionados to find out their favorite stops, shopping secrets, and tricks of the trade. Here’s what we found out.

The Pros:

Barry Williams, Interior Designer 

Résumé: For more than three decades, Barry Williams has designed interiors for elite clients in Dallas and beyond. Known for his exquisite style and approachable demeanor, the owner of Williams Design Inc. is a frequenter of antique stores and auction houses, searching for just-right pieces for a project.

Barry’s Itinerary

  • Legacy Antiques
  • Nick Brock Antiques
  • Pittet Architecturals
  • Muse on Slocum
  • Wolf Hall Antique Collective

What’s on His List: Mirrors, chandeliers, and high-quality investment antiques. “The quality and breadth of inventory are remarkable.”

Legacy Antiques, 1406 Slocum St. 

What’s on His List: Anything and everything. “Nick buys from estates and dealers from across the United States, so he has a wide variety.”

Nick Brock Antiques, 2909 N. Henderson Ave.

What’s on His List: Mantels, flooring, garden ornaments. “It’d be one of the first stops if you’re building.”

Pittet Architecturals, 318 Cole St.

Muse on Slocum, 1201 Slocum St.

Barry’s Tips

Act Fast: There often aren’t second chances in the world of antiques—so when you find the right piece, you’ve got to act fast. “With antiques, you don’t have the luxury of time,” says Williams. “If something feels like a sure thing because it’s one of a kind, I’ll ask to put it on hold—or even extended hold—until I can present it to the client.”

Antiques for Beginners: Williams points to pieces that are in plentiful supply as great items with which to start your collection, such as sideboards, dining tables, and chairs. “Basically every house had one, so that’s going to be a great entry-level piece,” he says. 

Sneak a Peek: “I’m what I call a maximizer—I want to choose from every single thing that I can find,” Williams says. When he has a particular need, “pre-shopping” a store’s online catalog makes for efficient in-person shopping—the latter of which Williams insists upon. “When I take a client to a showroom, I inevitably hear, ‘This is so much prettier than it was in the photo.’ ”

Ask Away: You won’t be laughed out of the store for asking a silly question, so don’t be embarrassed to request guidance. “An antique store is filled with all kinds of things, and I don’t think there’s anyone who can know everything,” Williams says. “It’s [the owner’s] life’s passion, so it’s a joy to be able to share that with somebody.” And yes, those questions can include asking for a better price. “I’m never shy about asking,” he says.

Kaitlyn Coffee, Vintage Curator/Creative

Résumé: The Dallas native behind Kaitlyn Coffee Creative and Harris Vintage has gained a loyal following through her Instagram account (@harrisvintage), where she shows off favorite secondhand finds, inspiring interiors, client projects (she curates for Graduate Hotels, among others), and her eclectic Lake Highlands home, which is packed with found treasures.

Kaitlyn’s Itinerary

  • Forestwood Antique Mall
  • Lots of Furniture Antiques Warehouse
  • Benny Jack Antiques
  • Curiosities Antiques
  • Lula B’s
  • Uncommon Market

What’s on her list: Antique art

Forestwood Antique Mall, 5333 Forest Ln.

What’s on Her List: Pottery, objects, and well-priced antique furniture

Lots of Furniture Antiques Warehouse, 910 N. Riverfront Blvd.

What’s on her list: Chairs, rugs, and “the weird and abnormal”

Benny Jack Antiques, 1026 N. Riverfront Blvd.

Curiosities Antiques, 2025 Abrams Rd.

Lula B’s, 1010 N. Riverfront Blvd.

Uncommon Market, 100 Riveredge Dr.

Kaitlyn’s Tips

Buy What You Love: Though makers and provenance do impact a piece’s value, unless you’re planning to resell it, that shouldn’t be the sole consideration. “No one’s going to come to your house, open the drawer, and be like, ‘Is this a Thomasville?’ ” says Coffee. “If you like the way something looks, if the quality is there, and it speaks to your style, then get it.”

Have an Open Mind: “A lot of people go with a very specific item in mind. I think that’s a recipe for failure,” Coffee says. Instead, “Go for the enjoyment and the beauty of it all.” If you find something you need, all the better—but coming home empty-handed does not equal a wasted trip. Coffee chalks it all up to style self-realization: “Don’t feel defeated if you don’t find anything. If you see something you like that speaks to you, you’ll know next time.”

Shop Often: Antique dealers are constantly restocking, so the more frequently you can visit, the better your odds of finding something special.  “When I’m working on a curation project, I go once a week,” she says. Plus, the more you go, the more familiar you’ll become with the inventory and the dealers whose style most closely mirrors your own, making you a more efficient shopper. “There’s a booth for everyone,” she says.

Look High, Low & Up Close: Though it can be easy to get overwhelmed by what’s at eye level alone, don’t forget to look up and down, where Coffee says great lighting and rugs can be found. Once you find something you like, give it a thorough once-over. “You are buying this to have in your house forever, so don’t be afraid to turn furniture over—carefully,” she says. “Look under the couch and see if it’s well made. Pull the rugs out and flip them over.”


Jessica Otte

Jessica Otte

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Jessica Otte is the executive editor of D Home and D Weddings. In 2006, she helped launch D CEO as…

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