An Interior Designer’s Guide to Antique Hunting in Chicago

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I love to hunt. To clarify, not the donned head-to-toe in camouflage and squatting in a leaf-covered shelter for hours hunting, but the hunt of a great antique find. Found objects have a way of bringing together a space like nothing else. They naturally create texture, an unexpected element, and a conversation starter.
When meeting a new person, we like to connect with each other by listening to that person’s “story” and the enthralling details that make that person unique. The interior of a room is no different, and a well-designed space stands out when it has a unique visual story.
In Chicago, I have a couple favorite places that I religiously hit when it’s time to accessorize or punctuate the corner of a room with … let’s say a vintage chair resurrected from the ’60s. Here is my list of the top four shops in the Chicago area, many of which I’ve used in Homepolish projects.
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Heritage Trail Mall

I first discovered Heritage Trail Mall on my way to a meet a client, trying to avoid traffic. By their window display, it was immediately apparent they had the right balance of high and low. Heritage is a multi-booth establishment that is curated by varied vendors that, by its formula, inherently keeps the selection fresh and provides something for everyone. Items have a bit higher price tag, but there’s a wonderful array of quality vintage pieces from art to accessories.

This is one of my favorite places to source accessories (not so much for furniture) because the booths are smaller. They extend all the way to a second-floor attic. I found a wonderful vintage metal-plated wood print and concrete pigeon to juxtapose the David Hicks wallpaper I put in a client’s dining room, as an ever-evolving monochromatic visual collection.

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Coyle & Herr

A designer friend referred me to Coyle & Herr. It is her go-to for something special for each client, and I can see why! This off-the-beaten-path warehouse is a mecca of affordable luxury furniture and home decor. It’s a consignment store where all the furniture and goods are hand-selected by the owners, which translates to quality pre-owned goods.

They meticulously catalog their offerings posted on their website, so you can preview the current inventory. It ranges from midcentury Z chairs, and Heywood Wakefield rattan to classic Baker dining room chairs. I was fortunate to acquire a collapsible rolling laundry cart that I used as toy storage for a playroom.

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Jefferson Square Mall

Jackson Square Mall is also a multi-booth formula, and it’s become my gold standard of antique stores because the prices are so great! Although they are bit less organized, the repertoire of vendors has a keen eye for outsider art and original prints that are easily reframed for a quick update.

Like any good hunt, there are times it can be heavy on the ’50s kitsch and industrial farm equipment, but with a little vision, you can see the potential to transform a candelabra with a touch of spray paint. I scored on finishing touches for an an eclectic family’s built-in library, when I came across a bronze Indian urn and a vintage Boy Scout bugle.

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Divine Consign

Divine Consign is another staple in the Chicago designer handbook. It is never the same place twice and mostly stocked with Merchandise Mart showroom sample sale items. Just west of the city, you will often find yourself waiting in line on Saturday mornings, anticipating the store opening.

It has a great well-rounded selection of framed art, a wall of accessories, a variety of well-organized rugs, lighting, and furniture … so pretty much everything. Although the curation is not as sophisticated as Coyle & Herr, it has the biggest range in style and I have never left empty-handed. When creating a mix-matched farmhouse chic dining area, I snagged some sweet wood farm chairs to finish the look.

Happy hunting! xo, Jen

Photos by Dustin Halleck

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