Antique furniture is like land – they’re not making any more of it. But unlike buying land, antique furniture is still within the reach of ordinary budgets and in a world of mass-produced, flat-packed home decor that is discarded in just a few years when it goes out of style or just falls apart, a hand-made piece that proudly shows the signs of centuries of use can set off a room – or an entire home – like nothing else.

Finding a piece that suits your life and your taste takes a little more work than browsing through the shops in a hurried afternoon but the world of antiques is not as fearsome or as exclusive as many people think.

The first thing to know, and the main thing to always remember, is to collect things that suit your taste, not items that are fashionable or trendy this season. Everyone can find something perfect for them, whether it is an ornately carved 200-year-old antique chest of drawers or a four-poster bed that reminds them of one their grandmother used to own. Once you know what you want to find, the thrill of the hunt becomes as exciting as actually finding what you are looking for.

To be a good antique shopper, you need a little bit of learning. If you are interested in a style of furniture, a certain period or even a particular maker or type of wood, it will then be easy and enjoyable for you to learn about those pieces, the methods of construction and what separates great pieces from merely good ones.

Remember, though, pictures can only tell you so much. They can’t capture the deep glow of hand-rubbed two-century-old mahogany or the patina of honest use that antiques carry. There is no substitute for seeing a piece in person, whether at a legitimate auction or in a reputable dealer’s showroom. Only there can you see the detail and care that has gone into making a piece and the equally fine work that experts may have used to restore it to its natural glory. An experienced dealer with a speciality in antique furniture, such as Driscolls Antiques  can not only show you the best in period pieces both on the Internet and in their showroom, but can also advise you on their care and upkeep.

Buying from an established dealer also gives you a guarantee that what you purchase is genuine – something that country auctions and boot sales do not, and something that is the biggest fear among new antique collectors – and also professional delivery and post-sale assistance.

An excellent antique often costs as much or just a little more than a much-poorer quality piece of furniture from a major chain. The fact that is has already stood up to scores of years of regular use is a testament to its quality, and unlike nearly every other purchase you can make, an antique does not start to lose value the minute you bring it home. A quality antique holds its value and often appreciates over time, all while you enjoy using and looking at it every day.

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