Whether you're fixing up a vintage home or just trying to restore your great grandmother's armoire, finding the proper antique or vintage hardware will probably not be that easy. Going vintage is a hot trend. This well-known fact has an upside and downside. The downside: there's likely a good grip of other people looking for similar products. The upside: there are multitudes of folks and vendors out there who would love to sell you theirs. Be it doorknobs, handles, light fixtures, or appliances, here are steps you can take to make your search a successful one.
Make a list. Especially if your project is a big one (i.e. restoring a vintage home), you'll want to be prepared. How many times have you walked into a store, seen the shelf volume, and completely forgotten why you walked in 30 seconds ago. When searching for vintage hardware, you're going to be doing a lot of "digging," so make a list that includes what you need, the style it needs to be, and other information relevant to your search.
Start local, start now. There's no time to waste, and finding what you want will require time, patience, and money. My favorite place to start is at local antique shoppes, garage sales, and thrift stores. Embrace your love of browsing because you never know what you'll find in some grandpa's old box of goodies.
Quick tips: Check out used furniture stores, restoration shops, and the like. These places might have bins upon bins of old hardware they'd be happy to let you peruse. Get creative!
Start up your search engine! The internet is a great resource for products of all kinds, from eBay to Google. Finding retailers of vintage or vintage-style hardware is easy as pie. Remember that the internet is sort of like a giant yard sale (although usually not as cheap) so don't forget to browse. Also, internet orders are mail orders, so you'll have to add shipping costs into your budget.
If these steps seem easy, that's because they are. Finding vintage hardware may tax your time and your patience, but it shouldn't tax your brain...too much (save that for the actual restoration). Just remember two things: Don't give up or buy too quickly and, while the internet is a great resource, it's always better to hold it before you buy it. So start local and have some vintage fun!
I am the CTO for a popular remodeling service that provides remodeling pictures and ideas as well as local remodeling contractors.