Shopping at barn shows, festivals, flea markets and even garage sales (or, God help me, Christmas markets) can be super successful, though to be I just don’t know who has that kind of time anymore. However, if you happen to find yourself in the middle of a tent with booths filled with goods and so-called antiques, you’ll need some skill and possibly some latex gloves.

Here are 3 tips from a Nashville interior designer, for hunting luxury items at not-so luxurious venues:

1. Look for original patina!  Check out these two service pieces. The one on the top is clearly an antique. It’s not been painted and the knicks and dings are authentic wear and tear. The one on the bottom has been painted using a faux technique, trying to mimic the look of a true vintage piece

2 service pieces, Nashville interior designers at Eric Ross Interiors on antiques and original patina, for interior design contact Eric Ross, today!

Not that I needed the affirmation, but I asked the vendor about the true antique piece and she said this server was taken from the set of Harry Potter.

2. Milk Paint? Chalk paint? PUT DOWN THE PAINT! — Good Paint versus Bad Paint – Now, I love a good painted piece! but there are more poorly painted pieces at a barn-show than hay in the barn.  Don’t do it. See these letters (a funky trend that I don’t really get, but to each her own? Top ones have a naturally-aged patina. Bottom ones look like they’ve been dipped in a Dairy Queen single scoop.  Furniture OR Accessories—unless it’s in its original painted finish, then fine. But… MOST do-it-yourself paint finishes just don’t turn out without looking contrived. Sorry ladies!

Painted and non-painted items, Nashville interior designer Eric Ross offers interior design and discusses what to look for when buying so-called antiques.


3. Lift it! No, don’t steal it. Pick it up.  Authentic antiques carry weight (both metaphorically and literally.) Pieces have history and bring an atmosphere with them into your space. They also weigh a ton!  These adorable birds (left) look sweet but don’t drop one on your toe. The birds on the right are as light as a feather. They may be really old, but they are also really plastic.

This, not this, Nashville interior designer Eric Ross offers interior design and discusses what to look for when purchasing antiques.City Farmhouse, a local antique show house in Franklin, just hosted a pop-up barn show and I had a fabulous time peaking into the booths to see what kind of gems I’d find. I picked up several deer horns and I also found a few other unpainted and heavily authentic, luxury goods.

Eric Ross, an interior designer in Nashville, TN found these items at City Farmhouse, call Eric for interior design in Nashville, TN and the Middle Tennessee area.


1. Hand-printing is a dying art. One of the vendors at the pop-up sale was offering truly custom (bespoke, couture, if you will) hand drawn burlap sacks.

2. Two words for this authentic bread box: Totes adorb.

3. This one vendor from Moss Studios was the real deal. (Click on their name to take you to their Facebook page! We are really all about discovering and promoting REAL artists!)  They’ve reimagined found and antique objects into lighting fixtures and other fabulous decor.

4. This hand-painted Pennsylvania Dutch trunk dated back to 1871. Gorg!

5. Architectural salvage from a widows walk can be used in a variety of inside design vignettes.

6. The paint has been worn off this cemented garden sculpture perfectly. I wouldn’t change a thing.

These tips brought to you complements of the best luxury interior designer in Nashville, TN (moi) and a little thing I like to call #redemptivedesign.