I recently read an article (New York Times, I think) about Bunny Williams and her new book Bunny Williams' Point of View. In it, Williams said that people should visit the crème de la crème of antiques and furniture stores in order to train one's eye. The merchandise may completely be out of your price range, but you're getting an education while you're browsing. I think Williams is quite right.
One website that I like to visit from time to time is that of Kentshire Galleries, the venerable English antique shop located in Manhattan. Of course there are no prices listed, only colored dots by the item that indicate a general price range ($10,000 and below, $10,000 to $50,000, and $50,000 and up). Yes, the dots can be a little intimidating, but just to be able to look through such a wonderful assortment of furniture, porcelain, and accessories- it's a virtual feast for the eye and the mind. And the great thing about this whole process is that when I do see something that I like in a local antiques shop that is in my price range, I will be ready to buy with confidence.
A pair of Chinese Quing Dynasty cloisonne elephants, c. late 18thc- 19th c.)
Pair of Italian Painted Nubian Pedestals, c. 1790
Pair of Art Deco glass and bronze screens, c. 1910
Pair of Regency faux painted bamboo benches, c. 1810
Pair of George III Adam brackets, c. 1770
Image at top: Regency Gilded and Faux Marble Chiffonier, c. 1805
(All images courtesy of Kentshire Galleries)