The Ultimate Guide to the Best Antiques Show in Texas
Designer Claire Zinnecker shares her insider tips for mastering Round Top.
Published Sep 27, 2017 5:00 AM
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Twice a year the quiet town of Round Top, Texas, becomes a bustling site for one of the nation’s best antique shows. The empty fields fill with tents, vendors, antiques, and people dressed in hats and boots wheeling wagons carrying their finds. I’ve been making the pilgrimage to Round Top for the better half of a decade, and I am constantly asked to share my favorite spots to score some treasures. Consider this my ultimate guide for conquering the craziness that is the Round Top Antiques Fair.
What to bring:
The fair comes to Texas in the spring (typically beginning of April) and in the fall (typically the end of September), though they recently added a shorter winter show in January. I prefer to travel light, but I always bring sunscreen, water, hand sanitizer, and a hat. I wear comfy shoes (usually cowboy boots) and travel in layers because you never know what kind of weather Texas will bring. Most vendors take credit cards now, but it never hurts to bring cash or checks.
How to get there:
The fair takes over a string of tiny towns along Texas Highway 237 between Austin and Houston. It’s an easy 90-minute drive from Austin, and it makes for a great day trip or a fun weekend adventure. This season, I piled into a car with my design friends Matt Johns and Dylan Moss and fabulous photographer Wynn Myers.
Where to stay:
You can definitely tackle this guide in a day, but make it a weekend adventure if you are able—it is an experience to remember. Make a trip of it and stay at Armandos Ranch Houses, Rancho Pillow, or a variety of other lodgings. There are plenty of hotels, inns, and campgrounds in the area.
My go-to is Rancho Pillow. The property has a small, hand selected group of vendors that set up in among the field of tepees, lodges, and cabins. You can sip wine, listen to music, and cool down while you browse the different popup shops. Owner Sheila Youngblood also throws fabulous family-style dinners in the fields, under the stars. No matter where you’re staying, book your rooms early.
The Game Plan
First up: Round Top proper.
As soon as we arrive, we fuel ourselves with iced Texas pecan coffee from Expressions Coffee + Art, the best local coffee shop in Round Top. Armed with our favorite beverages, we wander into the local shops to begin our antiquing adventure before tackling the fair.
Next door, in a darling little white building, is House Rummel, by Susan Horne Antiques, filled with rich smells and beautiful decor. Next up is Townsend Provisions owned and run by couple Ryan Ford and Nick Mosely.
The bright colors and unique finds in this space make it hard for me to venture any further. I could have shopped there all day, especially in their boot room. We grabbed a quick bite at The Garden Co. while we sat under the large oak tree before heading into the fair.
Second stop: The Compound.
These beautiful grounds are filled with great vendors that appeal to various price points and aesthetics. It doubles as an event space and hosts some of the prettiest weddings.
I always head straight for the Carriage House where Eneby Home sets up shop and find pieces I can’t live without (or know a client that can’t). The owners, a couple from Nashville, curate some of the best furniture finds I have ever seen.
I also make sure to say hello to Amelia Tarbet, a vendor favorite of mine from Austin. Nomad Looms, Inc. is a wholesale rug dealer at The Compound where I always find at least one rug for a client.
Lastly, I head to Manos de Sur and lust after all of his incredible South American textiles. The colors are magnetic. I can never just buy one piece. We take advantage of the air-conditioned bathrooms and free wifi while we grab a margarita and plan the rest of the afternoon.
Third stop: Warrenton.
We hop in the car and drive a few miles down the road to Warrenton, where I do the majority of my shopping. We head to the fields and stop by my favorite French vendor, More Than Antiques.
The white-washed woods, decadent chandeliers, and exquisite mirrors always leave me speechless. I could decorate an entire home with items from this tent.
Our shopping day is shorter than my typical Round Top adventures because we are eager to get to Rancho Pillow, where we have plans for a beautiful dinner and an evening of fun, but before we leave we hurry over to another one of my favorite rug vendors, Turkish Carpet Inc. After a little bargaining, I come away with some lovely rugs for Wynn and myself. Success!
Fourth stop: Excess I & II in Warrenton.
The next morning, we eagerly set out to explore my go-to spot at the fair: Excess I & II in Warrenton. These barn stalls are filled with interesting and diverse vendors at reasonable price points. You could spend days here and not see everything. Golf carts whiz by with dogs in the passenger seats as people call out a cheerful hello. You feel like you are part of a big family.
I like to wander into every stall, soaking in all the details. Some of my favorites are KB Design, John Petty Antiques, Elephant Walk Antiques, Installations Antiques, and Recycling the Past.
From here we poke around some of the nearby tents. This shopping experience is for those of us who are looking for a deal and love to hunt. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the rows and rows of tents full of odds and ends.
I lead the group across the street to Excess II and say hello to some of my favorite vendors. Christian Rathbone always has a new beautiful pillow design or two for me to drool over. He works with native rug makers in Turkey, who use only traditional vegetable based dyes to create unique patterns.
From there I head to Nomadic Trading Co., which is run by a couple from Durham, North Carolina. It is filled with furniture, fixtures, and textiles that are just begging for you to take them home. Inspiration heaven.
Next is Knock on Wood Antiques, a Moroccan color explosion. I’ll take one of everything please!
My last must-see vendor at Excess II is German Favorites Antiques, LLC., whose space is dripping with magnificent paintings and gorgeous furniture finds. Wynn and I spend way too long deciding which of the beautiful vintage bread boards we are going to bring home. We load up the car and headed back to The Compound for lunch at the Simply Delish food trailer, while a folk singer in the courtyard serenades us.
Final stop: Last we ventured into Marburger.
These tents are set up for a limited amount of time during the show, and there is an entry fee required. I love it here, but usually go for visual inspiration and not for scoring finds. Each long white tent is filled with multiple vendors with lovely but more expensive antiques. The dealers are so knowledgeable and kind; I usually spend too much time just chatting with them about all things antiques.
If you can’t make it for the show, don’t worry, there are shops open year round. And remember that most of these vendors have an online presence so you can shop year round! Make sure to check them out.
The current show runs through September 30, and the spring 2018 show will take place April 2 to 7. The shorter winter show is scheduled for January 26-27.
Get more tips for vintage style:
How to Hit Estate Sales and Antique Shops Like a Pro The 9 Vintage Shopping Mistakes Everyone Makes Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Vintage Rug