A Guide to Sourcing Vintage Furniture in the Netherlands

Since you are reading this blog, I assume that you have an interest in vintage furniture. Maybe you are searching for a single piece to elevate your home décor. Or are you searching for multiple pieces for refinishing and reselling.  Either way, the hunt for vintage gem’s is the same.

Lately, I hear and see that pieces are becoming harder to find. Prices are increasing very quickly in the Netherlands…if not the world. This is due to the increased interest in vintage furniture. Vintage has become a trend! It’s now common to have vintage furniture within your home. I believe that real vintage gems can still be found with a little effort. So do not fret, that dream piece of vintage furniture is still out there waiting for you.

Table of Contents

Setting your expectations before the search

If you are searching for quality mid-century pieces at rock bottom prices, I cannot help you. If I knew where to go, I probably would not share that Holy Grail of information. A number of years ago you could luck out; step into a vintage shop and walking away with a gorgeous Danish 1960’s coffee table at rock bottom price. This is not the current situation. Vintage is hot and mid-century is THE trend.

For more 2023 Trends, check this out. 2023 Trends that Excite me.

You can of course find retro pieces available but be prepared to pay accordingly. So, if you are purchasing for  custom work, set expectations  with your customer. You need to convey what you expect to pay for the style of piece they are looking for.

Before you start shopping create your list of must haves. This should go beyond a specific style of furniture and could include the following:

  • The condition of the piece – how much restoration and repairs can you handle and what will it cost?
  • Is there original hardware and what is its condition?
  • Can the piece be modernized or made to look like a trendy style?
  • Does it fall within your purchasing budget for resell purposes?
  • What sizes sell well for you?
Veneer inlay table prior to refinishing process. Years of wax build up created dark, grim patches
1960's Sideboard badly damaged

Where to find vintage furniture in the Netherlands

When searching for vintage furniture, it is best to explore both physical stores and online platforms. This way you will increase your access to a wide range of furniture. You may have a preference to shopping in person as you get what you see.  While you may not know the full condition until you pick it up, when shopping online. But both options will increase your knowledge of the local market and the types of pieces on offer. Furthermore, consider the area in which you are shopping.  The Randstad will have higher prices then areas closer to the borders or in the North and South.  You may want to consider a day trip in areas where prices may be lower.

Sourcing vintage furniture from shops

  • Second-hand stores – in my town alone, there are 7 secondhand stores that range from privately owned to charities. Each of these stores takes in secondhand goods (some will even come to your home to pick up unwanted items) and will resell them. Usually in the condition they receive it in or with minor repairs and cleaning.
  • Vintage stores – I consider these stores different from secondhand stores, in that they are privately owned with a focus on reselling popular vintage and retro items. They know the worth of the items and have made repairs with the sole purpose of getting the top value of the item. I personally do not look at vintage stores (other to investigate local pricings) but if you are searching for a special piece and budget is not a factor, I highly recommend checking out your local vintage stores.
  • Markets – There are frequent markets throughout the year where furniture may be included in. These include flea markets, boot markets (trunk of a car boots), rommel markets. Keep your eyes open for flyers hanging up and watch online websites (such as https://www.meukisleuk.nl/) which advertise up-coming markets.

Online platforms for sourcing vintage furniture

  • Marktplaats is the largest online marketplace in the Netherlands, and it is a wonderful place to find vintage furniture. You do have to search between the professional resellers using this platform for advertising their products, to find the homeowner needing to sell an unwanted vintage piece.
  • Facebook Marketplace is another convenient platform for finding vintage furniture. You can search for listings in your local area and view photos before connecting with the seller. I find there are less resellers on Facebook marketplace and that it’s definitely growing in popularity in the Netherlands.
  • Whoppah.com specializes in design furniture. You could find a special item here but watch out for those designer prices.
  • Reliving.nl is like Whoppah.com but also includes non-designer vintage furniture. Furthermore, while Reliving.nl lists a purchase price, sellers can also include a bid from option. It does not guarantee that the seller will accept your bid, but it does increase the chances of you finding a good price here.

3 Tips for Finding Vintage Furniture

When it comes to sourcing vintage furniture, you need to understand the local market and current pricing.  I cannot stress this enough. You need to be constantly watching the trends in your local market and the broader market around. Review regularly online advertisements for what is selling fast and what the asking prices are.    

Here are some additional tips to help you make the most out of your vintage furniture hunting experience in the Netherlands.

Do your research

Before you start your hunt, it’s essential to research the market. Look for vintage furniture stores, flea markets, and online platforms that specialize in vintage pieces. Familiarize yourself with the average prices of different types of furniture styles, so you have a better understanding of what constitutes a fair deal.

Assess the condition

Vintage furniture has been previously used for years and therefore will come with some wear and tear. It is key to assess the condition of the piece before making a purchase. Look for any structural damage, loose joints, or signs of insects. All minor cosmetic issues can be repaired, but those major structural problems may not be worth the investment and time that you will need to put into the piece.

Want more tips on what to consider when buying vintage furniture? Check out this helpful list of the 5 things to consider before purchasing vintage furniture. 

split veneer over damaged particle board.

Do not be afraid to negotiate

In markets and online be sure to haggle on the price. Especially if the item itself is not in line with the actual value currently in the market. I have found that most personal sellers are open to negotiation and are interested in what will happen with their previous family heirloom. The idea of the piece continuing on and making another family happy often is well received by the seller.

So if the price being asked is outside of the current market value and you believe you can help the piece to continue it’s use, don’t be afraid to ask for a better price.  I always explain how the piece is more in line with a reasonable price based on style, condition and the cost to repair and restyle the item.  Then I offer a price in line with what I believe it is worth and can be refinished and resold for.  Always be polite and friendly within the discussion, as these pieces often hold a special place in the family.

Finding the perfect vintage piece requires patience and persistence.  You will need to search frequently, to find those rare gems. So keep those tips in mind when you are hunting.

Know your local market

When looking for vintage furniture in the Netherlands, it is important to understand the local furniture market.  Every country has a different style of furniture throughout the years and while sometimes the differences can be subtle, it helps to understand what type of furniture you will come across in your market. Here are a few insights into the vintage furniture scene in the Netherlands:

By understanding the characteristics the Netherlands vintage furniture scene, you can set your own expectations on what you are most likely to come across.  You can look high and low for a solid wooden Jacobean Buffet and will only be disappointed. Search for a quality built cabinet with doors to hide your wine bottle and contains decorative style elements of the Amsterdam School and you just may be in luck.  So take the time to research the history of furniture in the Netherlands and you can better manage your expectations.

Solid Wood Furniture

This is probably one of the hardest ideas I had to adjust to when I first started looking at vintage furniture in the Netherlands. Coming from North America myself, I am use to vintage furniture often being solid wood.  I love watching Furniture Refinishers across the ocean step into a second-hand store and find solid walnut pieces.  And while I know that not every piece is solid there, the chances are much higher than here in Europe.

It is possible to find solid wood furniture in a vintage store, in the Netherlands, but it’s often of softer and less dramatic woods. If it is hard wood, the panels and sides are so thin, I often wonder if swapping it out for plywood with veneer would have created a stronger, more attractive base for the cabinet.  The solid teak or mahogany piece will be a rare find but possible.  I personally find that 80 to 90% of the furniture I work on is veneer or a mix of veneer and solid elements.  To me, it makes sense in a country with limited forests and where wood needs to be imported.

Upcycled cocktail cabinet in art deco style. Large drink cabinet in teak and mahogany woods

Drinks Cabinets

I love a vintage drinks cabinet, but trying to find one in the Netherlands isn’t easy. My recent acquiring of a real drinks cabinet, was a rare find. Firstly, its a British Brand and British made.  Now I am not an expert on the exporting of this furniture into the rest of Europe, but the majority of examples I have seen are in Britian still. 

There are Dutch Drink Cabinets, but the look and style is different to the British counterparts. Furthermore, the majority of examples I have seen so far come from the Amsterdam or Haagse School and are highly sought after.  In good condition they are more art than furniture and should be handled accordingly.

When shopping for cabinets to transform into cocktail bars (my personal favorite item to create) I am open to using a piece of furniture which perhaps originally had a different purpose.  For me it’s key that the piece has a section large enough to store wine bottles (height is important) which is behind closed doors.  Space to include a few glasses and a top section flat and large enough for mixing and pouring. 

the before, prior to refinishing this small cocktail bar

Art Deco Style

There are two styles of furniture that developed in the Netherlands during what is considered the Art Deco period for the rest of the world. I do not think it would be fair to call it the Dutch Version of Art Deco as the styles appear absolutely unique even to my untrained eyes.  These schools, as they are referred to, date from 1910 to 1930 and good condition and unique pieces can go for thousands.  So I do not expect that you will find that rare of a gem in the second hand stores.  You could however find more common versions of furniture dating to this period which contain elements of the Amsterdam or Haagse School style.

Amsterdam and Haagse Schools

Originally these two different schools started as styles of architecture, that flowed into interiors with unique items of furniture.  I will be the first to admit that I am not an interior or furniture styles expert.  You will not find me valuating antiques, or talking about how a piece is more art deco or art nouveau, due to a decorative element.  Heck, sometimes I struggle just to figure out what decade a piece came from. But, I could not write a piece on sourcing vintage furniture in the Netherlands without including some details on these two very important schools that developed in this tiny country during a 20-year period of time.

For me, these two styles could be seen as very Art Deco/ Art Nouveau in that they contain distinctive decorative details and geometric forms.  However, what causes them to stand apart from the rest of the world, for me, is their very boxy/square shapes.  Now wait, before you persecute me for my very simplified language and viewpoint, hear me out! From what I have seen, a lot of the pieces from these schools are very square in their basic form, with strict, clean lines. This is what makes these pieces stand out, to me, as a unique style when compared to furniture from this time period from the rest of the world.  Perhaps a very controversial opinion considering the architectural style of these two schools is known for being expressive with round forms.

For more information on Amsterdam and Haagse School, check out these articles.

Amsterdamse School  

Wikipedia – Amsterdam School 

Amsterdam School style tea cabinet prior to refinishing
vintage cabinet refinishing into small cocktail cabinet
paint poured top close up of cocktail bar top

Shopping outside the Netherlands

While the Netherlands offers so much opportunity for sourcing vintage furniture, I hear from many furniture refinishers in the area, that they travel abroad to find the best deals for vintage furniture. So considering the borders are only a short drive, don’t limit yourself to just one country. I personally have not yet had to leave the Netherlands to find unique pieces, but if you are up for an adventure, consider the following destinations.

  1. Denmark: The Valhalla for mid-century furniture. There is a reason why most mid-century resellers refer to the Nordic countries when selling their pieces. The most popular styles that originate from this period of time where very popular in the Nordic countries with Denmark on the top of the list and the closest drive.
  2. France: France (and Belgium) have both been recommended to me as the place to go to check out flea markets for great furniture finds. Now I don’t speak French, so I really do not have any clue where to start in this search. If French isn’t an issue, start googling for those summer markets and grab your sunblock.  Best of luck!
  3. United Kingdom: I was hesitant on including this destination, due to the whole North Sea being in the way. You can drive and take the train with your car into Britain. Once there, you have the opportunity to find very unique drink cabinets.  I love the work that the British Refinishers are producing and part of that is down to the unique vintage furniture they have available. I do not have any knowledge if there are importing issues since Brexit when picking up pieces of furniture in the UK, so perhaps check this out before going.

 

When planning your vintage furniture exploration trip, consider what style of furniture you are searching for and where you will most likely find it. Despite the proximity of each country, each destination offers its unique flair and selection of vintage furniture to be discovered.

art deco refinished cocktail bar with ornate veneer
Midcentury modern after refinishing and restoration work, with water based top coat as type of wood finish

Sourcing vintage furniture in the Netherlands can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It also can be frustrating and confusing.  Setting the right expectations, researching, inspect the condition of each piece and don’t be afraid to try haggling.  Above all, remain consistent in your search as when a gem is uncovered, you will not be the only one eyeing it.  

 

Vintage furniture is timeless and adds charm and warmth into any space. By adding vintage furniture to your space you are also contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of living. Happy hunting!

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Hey, I'm Sarah, the owner of Bold Wallflowers.

I'm on a self-taught journey through furniture refinishing and restoration, loving every experiment in my workshop.

Join me as I share my discoveries and gained knowledge with our vibrant community of fellow refinishers!

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