Design Hints

Internet Inspiration

“I love a bargain,” Darlene Sonnheim admits. “I think everyone does.” She and her husband, Steve, have seen many changes in the antiques world since they began collecting almost 40 years ago. Walking miles at a local flea market trolling for treasure is more difficult now than it used to be, Darlene observes, and she’s sad to report that a number of her favorite local antiques shops have closed. However, the internet has opened new doors and been the source of many of the treasures that fill the couple’s home in the town of Vernon, Wisconsin. “And it’s always open,” Darlene points out with a laugh. She offers the following tips for shopping and scoring online:
Internet Inspiration

Search by subject. Narrow down what you’re looking for to a few keywords that can be entered into a search engine on an auction site. If you don’t, then you’ll spend hours scrolling through items you don’t want or need.
Use your thesaurus. Can’t find what you want? Trying different or similar search words for a specific item might bring better results and an otherwise overlooked treasure. For example, if you are seeking a Dazey butter churn, you might search for “antique butter churn,” “vintage butter churn,” or “antique kitchen appliances,” among other variations.
Stay local. Darlene limits her searches on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to within 25 miles of her home. That way, if she finds a larger piece, she can easily travel to pick it up. Bargains can turn into pricey purchases if you have to add in substantial travel or shipping expenses.
Fly free. Look to see whether your area has a “Buy Nothing” Facebook group that posts freebies, or check out to join a group of others who are dedicated to recycling and repurposing goods to keep them out of a landfill.
Connect with collectors. Beyond finding opportunities to buy items, Darlene says she also gathers lots of inspiration and like-minded friends via Facebook groups, Pinterest and various blogs dedicated to primitive decor.

Written by Khristi Zimmeth
Photographed by Bill Mathews
Styled by Pilar Simon