Interior Style

Why vintage glassware should be on every op-shoppers must-have list

From smoked to frosted, ribbed to coloured, unique glass is trending. Sustainable shopping advocate Fi reveals how to find this vintage treasure

Smoked glass, a staple of the 1970s, is back, which got me thinking about this moody material and other types of glass worth hunting out in secondhand shops. Coloured glass is also a favourite for vintage collectors, and pink, amber and blue are particularly popular right now.

Vintage stores and op-shops are great places to track down coloured or smoked glass to add to your collection. Look out for drinking glasses, vases, candlesticks and platters.

Mix it up

Playing around with opacity and texture can give a glass collection new life. You can find plenty of interesting textured glass pieces at secondhand shops, such as ribbed and gridded glass, bubble glass (where air bubbles are incorporated into the piece) and American Depression glass (colourful, cheaply made pieces produced in the US from the 1920s to the 1940s).

Where to start

Bar carts and sideboards have seen a resurgence in recent years and are excellent places to display a glass collection. Start small by collecting coloured or textured pieces as you spot them in op-shops, online or at flea markets.

Check out Deborah Sweeney or Vintage Colour for well-priced finds or splash out on designer pieces from a mid-century specialist such as Mr Mod.

Think big

Glass furniture or decorative pieces can help a space to appear larger and lighter. While vintage smoked glass furniture takes a bit of hunting down, you can find shelves, cabinets and tables featuring this material if you keep an eye out.

Frosted, smoked and textured glass doors, screens or windows can let light in while still maintaining privacy. If you’re renovating, look out for interesting glass at demo yards and recycle centres, or if you are lucky enough to already have unique glass features in your home, please consider keeping them!

Pendant or globe lights in the same material can also create an eye-catching look. These lightshades soften the light emitted from a bulb, which gives them a more understated appeal than the brighter glow of clear glass. New Plymouth’s Vintage Industries and Auckland’s Vitrine stock extensive collections of 1960s and 1970s pendant lights, globes and the iconic spiky Sputnik chandeliers.

Buyer beware

One thing to look out for if you’re picking up green, or sometimes other coloured vintage pieces, is uranium glass. The element was once added to glassware as a colourant. While the amount of uranium in these pieces is usually deemed too small to pose a risk, it’s worth being aware of. You can check if a piece is made with uranium by holding a black light up to it – uranium glass will glow in the dark – or holding it up to the sun to check for a faint glow.

Top finds


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1. Rainbow connection

Blogger Elsie Larson, of A Beautiful Mess, has curated the ultimate vintage glass collection in her Nashville home.


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2. Sweet fruit 

Artist Devyn Ormsby’s vintage-inspired glass fruit looks good enough to eat.


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3. Treasure trove

This Kiwi-run Instagram account is the place to go to buy stylish secondhand glassware.


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Words by: Fiona Ralph. Photography by: Elsie larson,

This article was first published in Your Home and Garden. Follow YHG on Instagram, Facebook and sign up to the fortnightly email for inspiration between the issues.

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