From antique mirrors to second-hand dining tables and original movie posters, Berlin’s vintage homeware scene is thriving. The city is a vintage shopping mecca and there is an array of quirky shops and markets selling furniture, homewares and memorabilia. Berliners love recycling and fashionable young city-dwellers fill their homes with an eclectic mix of new and old. Prices are considerably lower than in much of Europe so bargains are relatively easy to come by. Although some shops stock a huge variety of vintage wares, there are countless specialist retailers concentrating on particular items, eras or styles.
For a substantial furniture selection, Wohnzone-Berlin on Ebersstrasse is the one-stop shop for all your vintage home needs. It’s a haven of second-hand sideboards, armchairs, desks and cocktail cabinet. Most items are from the 1950s to the 1980s and are generally in very good condition. Antik & Kuriosa is another furniture retailer specialising in the second half of the 20th Century and you will often find some attractive vintage Danish furniture here.
For a slightly more upmarket shopping experience, the fantastic Zeitlos specialises in Art Deco, Bauhaus and Streamline furniture and is the place to head if you are looking for designer pieces. Check out their stunning collection of Art Deco sofas but be prepared to pay up if you decide to buy one. If you’re buying valuable or large items of furniture with the intention of taking them to your home overseas, speak to the proprietors and ask if they can recommend a shipping firm as they may be able to get you preferential rates from companies they work with. If you’re planning on buying expensive items of any description while in Berlin, it’s imperative you have adequate travel insurance. Check your policy covers purchases made on holiday if you’re not sure.
The ultimate vintage treasure trove, Zwischenzeit stocks an eclectic assortment of crockery, homewares and decor. This vibrant little shop is known for its reasonable prices and is a great place for rummaging through boxes of colourful wares on a rainy day. From 1950s cruets to 1970s crocheted cushions, this shop has a wonderful collection spanning several decades. As well as an impressive range of furniture, the aforementioned Antik & Kuriosa also sells a decent selection of vintage homewares, such as lamps, artwork, ornaments and ceramics. The charming Möbelkombinat is part of a small chain of vintage stores and this one focuses on homewares. Expect to find a dazzling array of retro lighting, vintage luggage and shabby chic storage solutions in this Aladdin’s Cave.
Most of the shops mentioned above will carry at least a small selection of vintage decorative items such as wall art, mirrors and ornaments but for the largest choice of kitsch, retro and antique goods, it’s hard to beat a flea market. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and this is especially so in the world of Berlin’s fantastic flea market scene. It’s perfectly possible to makeover a whole room with the spoils from one morning at a flea market, with the added bonus of lower prices than in many of the city’s vintage shops. The unwieldy mass of Moritzplatz is best left to those who enjoy a good rummage but anyone who does get stuck in will be rewarded with some great finds. This market is brilliant for second-hand art, ornaments and memorabilia. Arkonplatz is a hugely popular flea market and enjoys a picturesque setting among mature trees and pavement cafes. Vintage decor and some smaller items of second-hand furniture are among the best buys here. It gets very busy and the best items tend to go early so set your alarm and get there for opening if you want to increase your chances of snapping up a bargain or several. Museumsinsel is a great market for spending a few hours in as eating is as important as shopping here. There are lots of stalls selling traditional German snacks such as bratwurst, schnitzels and kartoffelsalat, making it easy to re-fuel halfway through your day of shopping. Museumsinsel is the go-to destination for antique and second-hand art, books, records and all kinds of pop culture memorabilia.
- Eve Langdon
(Vintage Berlin Guide Guest Blogger)