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The Design Trends We Noticed (and Loved) at Brimfield

May 20, 2017

We've freshly returned from our stay at the Northeast's sprawling antiques fair in Brimfield, Massachusetts, where we hung out with Pottery Barn (and hopefully you!) all week. Today, we're sharing what we noticed people were loving at the market, from mid-century modern chairs to birdcages.

One of my favorite parts about Brimfield is seeing what other people find. It’s impossible to see the whole fair, so peeking into the very full hands and arms of passersby can give you a sense of what’s in the fields, corners, and vendor stands you haven’t been able to weave your way through yet. It’s also very funny to see folks wrestling their treasures down Brimfield’s central road, Route 20, on the way to their cars—big, beautiful lounge chairs or shiny canoe paddles or double-handled lumberjack saws (seriously) on human legs.

Here area few of the things we noticed popping up again and again:

Everyone wants the mid-century modern look.

And it’s everywhere! Shiny wood—dark and light. Clean lines. We saw bar carts, chairs, side tables, tableware, pots, vases. We saw more than one person carrying one of these Danish-style chairs. I scored one for $50! (My luck was probably due to the fact that it was the last day, raining, and a dog may have nibbled on one of the arms. But still!)

Brass is big.

But also small. That is, it seemed to be the quirky accent of choice. We’ve been a big fan of brass for a while—see the Food52 Shop’s own collection of brass (in the shape of ladles, zippers, candlesticks, bottle openers, rivets…), and we saw it everywhere at Brimmy. It framed mirrors. It plated lamps, the feet of vases and lamps. I loved it especially on these very mid-century modern candlesticks.

Brass accents add a vintage feel to any piece of furniture. Photo by Caroline Lange

Especially in the guise of animals!

The perfect balance of quirky and elegant. Events co-director (and Brimfield planner) Kate picked up this pretty horse head hook; I saw duck-shaped bookends.

Welcome horses and ducks to your home. Photo by Caroline Lange

Wickery or otherwise woven and cane-style statement pieces—and especially chairs!

It feels just the slightest bit country-style, and a little bit beachy, but think more of a California ’70s vibe. And think big—the pieces we saw were completely charming but not necessarily demure. (A related trend that will never go away, and thank goodness: baskets.)

Photo by Caroline Lange
Photo by Caroline Lange
Photo by Amanda Widis

Pick portraits that seem to stare right back at you

I read recently that when shopping for art, you should wait until something that seems to call right out to you, that you can’t forget, that chooses you. Many of the Food52 gang found striking portraits, or otherwise bold paintings—often already framed, too—at Brimfield this year. They’re just the things for starting a gallery wall, or filling an empty corner, or making eye contact with while giving yourself a morning pep talk.

Photo by Victoria Maynard

Apothecary- or library-type cabinets for holding every treasure, ingredient, or folded linen

These were everywhere, both big and small. They’re easy to love: so many tiny drawers! Cute-as-heck hardware! Shiny glass doors! Depending on how big the drawers or shelves are, they’d be a great addition to a home office, a bathroom, or the kitchen. Think how cute a little one would be on your countertop, stocked with all your ramekins, kitchen shears, butcher’s twine, salt collection…

Survived the jungles of #Brimfield and even found a few souvenirs to remember it by.

A post shared by Berit (@beritbaugher) on

Ladders for everything but climbing.

Hang your coziest throw blankets on a tall, thin-framed one and stick it in the living room. Use a shorter one with wider steps as side table by your bed or favorite reading chair. Corral your shoes on it by the front door. Set your plants on it and position it in a sunny window. They’re unprecious, alternately elegant and quaint, and utterly functional.

Photo by Amanda Widis

Birdcages? Yes, birdcages.

We’re still processing this one ourselves—but we saw them over and over again. Over the top, ornate, and often very large, one would be pretty in an entryway or on top of a console, wouldn’t it?

I so wanted that birdcage, for what🤷🏽‍♀️#brimfield

A post shared by Nicole Jones (@luvleynic) on

We recently set up shop at the Northeast's sprawling antiques fair in Brimfield, Massachusetts with Pottery Barn. It was a blast, and we came back with a few ideas on how to mix vintage touches in with new furniture throughout the home.

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Did you go to Brimfield? What did you get? Or, will you be going in July or September? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Beth McElhiney
    Beth McElhiney
  • Lisa
  • Judy Proulx
    Judy Proulx
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Beth M. May 24, 2017
It was a great first show for me at the New England Motel Antiques field and I will be back in September. We sold lots of vintage cameras and Mid Century art as well as my Upcycled Enamelware serving pieces. So fun! Hope to see you there in September😍
Lisa May 24, 2017
So, basically everything Emily Henderson has been doing for 10 years?
Judy P. May 22, 2017
I picked up vintage Pyrex bowls and adorable children's aprons. Hubby scored sewing cabinet drawers of all sizes, stained glass windows, and railroad spikes. Two days and we only explored a small section of Brimfield. Loved your booth. Thanks of the iced tea also.