Interior designer Athena Calderone shares her secret for sourcing beautiful antiques online

Athena Calderone and a few of our favorite design experts have shared their top tips on how to find antiques online and instore

Expert tips on sourcing, large bookshelf with antiques and other treasures in a living room
(Image credit: Ligne Roset)

Following the announcement that non-essential shops may reopen on April 12 in the UK, we're all feeling a little bit excited at the thought of getting lost in an antique store or- we dare say- an antique fair

Despite the thrill of antique shopping, we admit that sourcing can feel slightly overwhelming, especially doing so online while we wait until April. Luckily design expert and Livingetc columnist Athena Calderone's has a clever trick for how to find antiques online. 

Let's face it while we love going out shopping, there's really nothing like improving your home decor without having to undress from your pajamas.


Antique chair in a living room by Albion Nord

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

In her discussion of sourcing antiques with Livingetc' Editor, Pic McCormac in the Home Truths podcast, Athena shared her top tip. 

Athena suggests avoiding being too specific with your search terms. While it might sound counterintuitive to usual online shopping advice, the design expert swears her tip guarantees results.

'I usually always start with keywords. I think keywords are really important, especially if you are looking online. If I'm looking for a sideboard or a credenza, I won't put in something that is really specific. I was looking at [pieces from] the eighteenth century, trying to find things with a story to tell, and I do think that's what makes my home feel lived in.'

Patterned fabric chair in a room with a tiled floor and plant

(Image credit: Prestigious Textiles – Journal Collection)

Athena continued, revealing that sourced goods make up the interior of her celebrated home. She focused on the mysterious nature of historical pieces, sharing how she can 'carry on some unknown story and breathe new life into something that has a rich, unknown history.'

'That grit is always apparent in my home,' Athena concluded. 

How to find antiques instore

While Athena's advice is perfect if you prefer to peruse antiques from the comfort of your sofa. If you can't wait to get back into an antique store come April we asked a few of our favourite designers to share their top tips for sourcing hidden treasures.

1. Don't hesitate

If you've fallen for something that will inject a bit of Athena-approved grit into your home, be sure to pick it up at that moment- or it might just be too late. As Matt Goss, Antique Buyer from Pure White Lines revealed: 

'If you spot something you love, go with your gut and buy it, or someone else will beat you to the punch. There's nothing worse than missing out on something you really wanted.'

Expert tips on sourcing, bookshelf with books and and other treasures in a living room

(Image credit: Future)

'At fairs, we won't haggle for the sake of haggling. If we like the item and we think the price is fair, we buy it and move straight onto the next stall. European fairs are becoming more competitive each year, and top dealers will all recognize the quality and saleable bits, so be prepared to get in first and act quickly. 

Even in Kempton park market in London, which is far more relaxed than the big European fairs, you can expect to see the best pieces sell in the first half an hour,' Matt warned. 

2. Stay true to your emotions

The individuality of sourced goods is often the talking point to any home, but as Camilla Clarke, Creative Director of Albion Nord, shared, you must treat yourself to pieces that speak to you- even if you're not sure how it will look in a room. Go for it, and then deal with the intricacies of your interior later. 

Expert tips on sourcing, antique chair in a townhouse living room by Albion Nord

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

'Buy art for the love of art; if you see something that conjures up some sort of emotion in you, then you have connected,' emphasized Camilla. 

'Start with that, start with a feeling. The art is there for everything else to fall around, so don't spend time trying to match everything together in the room, including the art; it can feel so contrived.'

3. Showcase your lifestyle

Martin Waller, Founder of Andrew Martin, highlights Camilla's statement further, suggesting we should source items that speak to us and showcase our experiences and our lifestyle. 

Expert tips on sourcing, cream and gold living room with suitcases

(Image credit: Covet House)

'The world is a source of myriad exciting treasures, and travel is a voracious source of inspiration. Since the wake of the travel generation, the accessibility to and interest in foreign textiles has boomed. People go for fabrics that bring energy and suggest they are unique.'

Martin continued: 'It is the final accents, the pieces of personal art, or the ornaments brought back from a recent travel that make a space yours and give it your personality, much like jewelry or cufflinks to an outfit.'

If you're looking for other ways to drench your home in personality, see our tips from Matthew Williamson, Jonathan Adler, and interiors experts who know.

Megan Slack

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team.

Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US whilst studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site.

Megan currently lives in London, where she relocated from her hometown in Yorkshire. In her home, she experiments with interior design trends and draws inspiration from the home decor ideas she observes in her everyday work life. Her favorite pieces include her antique typewriter and her expansive collection of houseplants. When she isn’t writing, she is browsing London’s coffee shops and bookstores to add to her ever-growing library, taking over the open shelving in her apartment.