Shopping at random for antiques can be a tough proposition for those who lack a professional eye; it’s difficult to know what’s reasonable, what’s authentic and what’s mostly just creatively marketed smoke and mirrors (read: junk). But if you're just not into what contemporary furniture stores or boutique shops have to offer, antique stores are your best bet. So to aid you as you endeavor to add both soul and history to your home—without regular, grueling trips to the Rose Bowl Flea Market—we’ve scoured the city, from Echo Park to Venice, for the best it has to offer in antique dealers. Here, LA's finest, ranked and reviewed.
LA's top antique stores
JF Chen’s proprietor and namesake, Joel Chen, has been featured on the cover of Apartamento magazine, so you know his collection of antiques is worth perusing. You can find them on display in this 30,000-square-foot, 1950s concrete bank vault in Hollywood, where you’re likely to rub elbows with A-list celebrities looking to populate their Malibu homes with the best antique pieces in town. That is, if you can find the place; JF Chen’s storefront boasts no signage. The gallery’s selection is diverse; pieces are sourced globally, and eclectic antiques are mixed with items more modern or mainstream in design. This is a reflection of Chen’s tastes, which run the gamut, though in the last decade his daughter Bianca has begun to add her own unique aesthetic preferences—mostly oddball accessories—into the mix. The result is an amalgamation of 17th century baroque limestone figures, 1930s French Art Deco tables, late 19th century chandeliers, mid-century modern chairs and more (much, much more). Even with a (real or fibbed) designer’s discount, don’t expect to leave without spending a bare minimum of around $5,000. If they’re within your budget, these antiques are the stuff from which dream homes are made.
Entering this small, museum-like design store that specializes in one-of-a kind art, furniture and decorative objects is like walking into Miss Havisham's attic and finding a surfeit of treasures and carnivalesque collectibles that surely have fascinating back stories. The surprise gems here and on Obsolete's online store run the gamut: primitive cheese-making bowls, a 250-pound WWII parachute crash-test dummy; 18th-century French painter's easels; an oak refectory convent table from England, circa 1930. Proprietor Ray Azoulay’s eye is so good that at one point, Restoration Hardware began buying pieces from him to replicate and mass produce at a way cheaper price. As you might imagine, this did not go over well with Azoulay, who sued the much larger company, calling their actions unethical. We may not agree with what Restoration Hardware did, but we can certainly understand how perusing Obsolete’s on-point collection could create a desire to own each and every piece so strong you’d do anything to make it happen. You may not have known you wanted a post-mortem table from the 1920s, for example, until you saw it on the Obsolete sales floor. The same goes for a life-sized mannequin from 1900. Each item is unique, striking and elegant. Look for items that are mainly American or European in descent and run the gamut from Victorian garden lanterns and last-century telescopes to armchairs from 1890s England.
If you peruse the internet long enough, you will find poems inspired by Galerie Half—which is, we must imagine, one of the highest compliments to which any establishment can aspire. This, however, is not our favorite fact about Galerie Half. That distinction goes to a story about its co-founder Clifford Fong, which alleges that when his college apartment converted to condos many years after he’d dwelled within its walls, he bought one to furnish in a way quite disparate from how he’d done so—with just a mattress on the floor—in the salad days of his less-than-flush youth. Though the gallery itself is not at all musty, cluttered, or lived in (instead it's rather sparse compared to most of its peers), the bulk of the antiques it houses have a homey vibe that lends a friend-to-friend feel to any transaction. Though its pieces are mixed in style and era of origin—they range from the 1800s to the 1970s, with a sweet spot between 1930 and 1950—the space somehow does not feel eclectic so much as curated into one cohesive story. Galerie Half also boasts an impressive roster of celebrity fans, so don’t be surprised if Ellen DeGeneres beats you to that late 18th century bluestone-top table you’ve been eyeing.
Proprietor Jane Hallworth got her start pillaging auction houses as a student at Newcastle University, and had the small success of selling some of her first finds to none other than Ralph Lauren. Her showroom in Los Angeles is small and understated, with the feel of someone’s enviably quaint—and moody—home more so than that of a place of business. Look for Danish furniture from the 1800s, one-of-a-kind light fixtures spanning decades and more, all at incredibly fair prices. A quick scan of the space and you’ll realize there’s a reason the press-shy Hallworth is famous among the famous in Los Angeles.
If you’re restoring an old home or want to add some charm to something new you’re building, you must stop into Wells Tile & Antiques. They specialize in antique tiles, mostly from California due to the design renaissance that occurred here in the 1920s. Wells is so trusted that they’re often commissioned to remove tiles from historic sites, and they will provide installation design upon request. Expect to find garden and outdoor antiques here as well.
The gems found in Little Paris mainly hail from Europe, and date back to the 1700s. The shop itself was founded originally in France in 1975, and was relocated to its current, 10,000-square-foot Los Angeles space in 2002. Little Paris isn’t really the place to go if you’re looking for some antique neutrals to blend quietly into your home. Each piece has personality, and the collection is a solid mix of known and unknown designers. Prices can jump between items rather drastically, ranging anywhere from under $1,000 to upwards of $60,000. The space itself has an eclectic, French flea market vibe, and you’ll want to set aside quite a bit of time to ensure you see every piece displayed within its walls.
If architectural salvage excites you, there is no better shop in Los Angeles than Olde Good Things. Its owners pillage late 19th-century and pre-depression buildings to bring an incredibly special assortment of doorknobs, doors, hardware, stained glass and more to their storefront. Those restoring old homes will find a visit to Olde Good Things to be a must, but it’s also worth seeing even if you’re only wanting to spectate, as the experience is akin to visiting a museum. We’re especially fond of their hardware, lighting fixtures, antique glass and tiles and occasional claw foot bath tub. And hey, maybe you don’t need a salvaged urinal… but then again, maybe you do.
This 16,000-square-foot collection of curators is a local favorite, and it's possible to bargain with many of the dealers who showcase their wares here. For this reason, many of the pricier Los Angeles shops source their pieces here, as do set designers and A-list celebrities. If antique galleries intimidate you, the Mart Collective is the perfect alternative, as the vibe here is somewhat akin to a clean and well-organized swap meet replete with unexpected treasures you’d be just as likely to find in a stuffy, upscale gallery for at least twice the price.
Vintageweave is all about French farmhouse-style antiques; think antique milk bottles, French baguette baskets, coffee mills, ashtrays, plate sets and more. This shop, which has consistently won awards from various local and national publications, is all charm and no French snobbery. Check back frequently as they regularly ship in new treasures directly from France. We recommend making Vintageweave a go-to for those who prefer to purchase one-of-a-kind wedding gifts for friends and family. When you go, it’s advisable to make friends with staff members upon your first visit because store hours are very French in nature (read: unpredictable), and therefore it might be helpful to have the inside scoop. If this approach fails, your best bet is to visit Vintageweave on weekday afternoons whenever possible.
We couldn’t resist including Fat Chance despite the fact that its offerings are more mid-century modern than most proper antique shops. The store’s inventory is so on point that we're still thinking of snagging a 1970s lucite game table from the sales floor. Fat Chance’s curation includes mostly items with a certain amount of flare, so make sure to visit if you’re looking to accent your home with some showy investment pieces.
Dubbed one of LA's best-kept secrets, Liz's Antique Hardware is equal parts fine art gallery and equal parts antique haven. The top level of this unsuspecting gallery space, The Loft at Liz's, is home to contemporary works of both emerging and established artists and artisans. Check Liz’s website for upcoming events, which often involve an eclectic crowd, free drinks and once-in-a-lifetime works of art. The first level of Liz's serves up a treasure trove of furnishings, light fixtures, cabinet knobs and more. Shop contemporary and antique items from a range of styles including Art Deco, Midcentury and Victorian. The staff here is incredibly knowledgeable and amazing at sourcing obscure requests. Once you’ve been to Liz’s, you’ll never look at doorknobs or furniture handles in quite the same way again.
Pepe’s is one of those under-the-radar places in LA that people like to keep to themselves so others don’t go in and raid it of its treasures. Antiques here are priced incredibly reasonably, and you’ll find trendy mid-century pieces for hundreds less than they would cost elsewhere in LA. It’s a packed space, so seeking out the gems takes both time and patience, but it’s also a family-run affair and at least a few members are on hand at all times to offer advice. Most pieces are well-worn, so if you’re looking for antiques that have the appearance of being untouched or restored, this may not be the perfect fit. Those who prefer a homier vibe, however, will feel right at, well, home.
Since Church Hill Antiques has the crowded, overstuffed feel of a thrift store, the unseasoned shopper may feel the prices are high for what’s on offer. Appearances can be deceiving, however, and in reality Church Hill is simply brimming with must-have treasures, ones which its British proprietor may bargain down in price if you ask nicely. Look for standard fare—antique seating, lighting, etc.—as well as more offbeat items like antique opium scales.