My Vintage Glassware Collection - and 5 Tips on How to Start Your Own

July 18, 2020

If you've been following me for a while, then you know that thrifting is one of my absolute favorite pastimes! What can I say... I just love digging for "buried treasure"! Aside from vintage items giving your home a sense of soul (particularly when your home is devoid of much age or character like ours), fun vintage pieces can also add a much-needed smile to your face (especially in 2020, am I right?).

Back in 2017 I blogged about the humble vintage glassware collection that I began on a whim. Flash forward almost three years later, and a 12-piece glassware collection has turned into a collection of well over 100! 

I almost have a whole rainbow now! How amazing is that? Of course I would be remiss if I did not pay homage to the blogger who inspired me to start looking at vintage glassware in a whole new light while  out thrifting. Honestly I used to pass glassware over at the thrift store (unless they had a cool pattern) but after seeing how much of a statement they could make, I couldn't resist adding them to our home. Now I can't imagine our little entry any different. The collection really puts a smile on my face each and every single day. 

Naturally as the collection grew and grew, I began to run out of space. I find that this often happens with everything that I start to collect (I'm looking at you, ginger jars and decanters). My old Vittsjo shelving unit was completely full, and I knew that I wasn't ready to stop collecting. So I decided to create more display space with the addition of two new shelving units.  

I know this sounds crazy, but when I removed all of the glassware so that I could build and install the new shelving, I could not believe how many glasses I actually had. For reference, our dining table is approximately 95" in length! This was the first time I was able to place them in rainbow order, and I must admit... it was stunning. 

The only color I have yet to collect is red, but overall I'm pretty happy with the collection. I'm still on the hunt for some beautiful ruby red depression glass, so maybe I'll get lucky one day.

Now, onto the new shelving units - the piece I selected is the Nathan James Theo 5-Shelf Ladder Bookcase with Brass Metal Frame in the White/Gold Finish. And I am going to be "100" with you - this is not the type of shelving unit that is suited for side-by-side install. The shelving and brackets don't line up exactly, so it can be a real pain to install them right next to one another. If I had about a foot between the two units, I doubt if it would actually be a problem, but I was working with very limited space. Initially I wanted the units touching for a seamless look, but because the shelves and brackets did not line up exactly, we opted for 1/2" between them to make the imperfections less noticeable. 

Now, this is the part where you examine the pictures up close to determine if I'm a crazy person. Don't worry, I'm not -  I promise. However the combination of the photos, the angled wall, the small space, and the wide angle lens makes a difference in how this solution is presented.  Overall I'd give the unit a 3/5 stars, but as my hubby reminded me after my pouts of perfectionism - this does not have to be your forever solution! Plus when I filled the shelving up, the glassware totally distracted from the imperfections of the shelving unit itself so I can live with it for now. Who knows? In a year or two I may want something completely different. But for now it's pretty, and I'm proud of it. 

After going through the process of collecting all of these beauties, I have a few tips that I want to pass on, just in case you're thinking of starting your own collection.

Tips for Collecting Vintage Glassware:

Define your criteria - Decide on what type of glassware you want. Are you looking for depression glass, jade glass, milk glass, specific colors, or just fun shapes and sizes? Do you have a specific price point for what you will spend and what you will pass over? Having an idea of what you are looking for will allow you to quickly scan a thrift or vintage store and make your hunt more efficient.

Check the color - If you're looking for colorful glassware, make sure that the color is embedded into the glass, versus applied on top. You can usually tell this by checking for scratches on the surface of the glass. In other words, if a glass is purple, but has a clear or white scratch, skip it. I made this mistake once, and when I took the glass home to clean and soak in mild dishwater, all of the color melted off and I was left with a clear glass. No bueno.

Check for imperfections- Sure, this seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes you can get so caught up with finding something cool that a small chip might not be discovered until you get home. Of course this isn't an issue if you don't plan to drink out of them, but we definitely use our glasses, and we don't want to risk bringing anything home that isn't safe to use.

Be okay with orphans - I'll admit, I've been pretty lucky to stumble upon entire sets of glassware, but more often than not they come in odd numbers, or in singles. This is often the nature of donated items, and you know what? That's totally okay! The more mixed your collection is, the cooler it will be. And if you like to entertain, there's nothing cooler than allowing your guests to select the glass they want to drink from for the evening. Also, I can't tell you how often I find a match to a particular glass months down the road. It's like striking gold! :)

Reflect, replace, refine - This last tip is for the avid collector. Eventually your collection will become nice and full, but you'll still discover more goodies when you go out. Don't be afraid to reflect on what you have, replace your not so favorite pieces with your new favorite ones, and refine your collection to the point where every piece is something that brings you joy. Think of it like the one in, one out philosophy for your closet. 

*Bonus tip*
The key to finding great pieces at the thrift store (regardless of what you are looking for) is to GO OFTEN! Some days you might find a gem, and some days you'll leave empty handed, but the more you flex your thrifting muscle, the better and more discerning your eye will get at picking out great stuff. 

So what next? Below is the new view of the entry from our stair railing. Not too shabby, right? Because our home is always a constant work in progress, I'm okay with finessing this space until I get it just right. 

This is the view from the front door. As I noted earlier, you can finally see that the wall with the new shelving is set at an angle, which then opens up to the kitchen peninsula and the dining area. There is so much potential here, but I am taking it one project at a time. Also, can I just say that I am STILL loving our cowhide? This was such an awkward space for a rug, and I love that it contours to every angle and piece of furniture. The fit was actually quite perfect, and of course it keeps our floors from being scratched up by our pup child, Chips. This is usually where she twirls with anticipation before we take her outside. 

And because a designer's home is never done, below is a Photoshop mock-up of the next steps that I would like to take in this space. I would love to find some cool artwork to hang above the shelving units, then pull the gold hardware finish into a new entry light fixture. I haven't decided on what pieces or lighting yet, but I'll keep and eye out and continue to share the journey. 

Also our dear friends recently painted the interior of their exterior doors a fun color, and I had googly eyes for this idea! (Thanks, J&S!) What do you think of a bold accent color on the door? What color should it be? Drop me a line below! :)

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