Toronto, Canada Community Manager
I do. My home (where I have my listings) is filled with vintage finds. I think that they add character and pieces that have already stood the test of time last longer than cheap, flat pack furniture. It's also allowed me to fill my home with nice things on a budget. I've not paid very much for most of it and some of it was free (road side finds or Freecycle). I also like how each piece maybe has a history. Some of it is upcycled (we're not talking about precious antiques here) and some left as is.
In this photo (which is taken from an Airbnb article), there is a vintage bureau desk in the background. I bought this for around £75 on Ebay. It was in a very dark faux oak finish, but it had lots of interesting detail so I upcycled it using chalk and metallic paints and then waxed it for protection. Although I provide coasters in the rooms, guests do sometimes leave stains on the top of furniture, but with this, I can just repaint and was the top if needed. I think it looks a lot more expensive than it was.
The mirror is Victorian, so a genuine antique, but was a bargain at £30 because it was a bit bashed up. I have had it for years and years (brought over from my previous home) and it has had a few knocks at the hands of careless folk, but I still love it. The wardrobes were already here when I bought the house and an ugly 1980s orangey pine, so I painted those too. I am not finished with them yet, but I think they look much better and they are really commodious and seemed to be custom made, so no point ripping them out.
Do you have a few vintage finds in your listings? If so, please do share some photos!
All of my furniture, linens, kitchen ware is used. I have a small Cabin in the woods by a lake in a small Texas town . I or my husband do all the cleaning and most of the yard work . Many of my guests comment on how quaint or cozy my Cabin is. I do not lack for guests.
All of my furniture and art is second hand, except the bed and couch.
In this cover picture, the counter hight table is from Facebook Marketplace. Just happened to find it right when I was looking for one. Originally I wanted one 36x36 inches but this worked out perfectly at 40 inches, and now like the extra size. This is exactly how I envisioned it before renovations started. The table was originally bought at Pier One, and got it for less than half price. The bar stools came with it also less than half price, and very heavy duty. I paid their asking price.
The live edge coffee table was also from Market Place. The guy worked at Boeing and did these as a hobby in his back yard. It was fun visiting him. He had all kinds of odd tables like this for his back yard. He had a tiny shed, 8x8 to keep a power saw and a palm sander and made these outside, and found the slabs of wood recycled. I got two tables, then was looking in his tiny shed and spotted two old cast iron sowing machine bases, and asked if he could make those into night stand tables, as I needed those as well. He was planning to make a dining room table out of them, but agreed to make my night stand tables. They were a little to high for night stands but look great as stand alone tables. I keep the guest guide, brochures, beach passes, etc on one and the other in the bedroom.
The artwork was also all second hand and most of it no one wanted. Two prints are Vangough with farm workers out in the fields, with covered wagons, or in little boats on a canal. At first glance looks like it's in the deep south but you can see his signature and Italian letting.
I also found a bakers rack on MP and put that in the bathroom for towels and such. I searched for a shelf or cabinet for years and finally had the idea to use a bakers rack. It's also arger than I planned but easy to clean under and easy to move.
All of the doors and windows were also returned or had been damaged and I got for 75% off. The sliding barn door had been left outside and was modern, like some kind of compressed cardboard or something, but I cut away parts that were peeling and used some epoxy and gave it a old seasoned look. It's amazing what you can do with paint and epoxy.
Most of the trim I also saved and prefer it to be a little aged and warn but well painted.
Also all of the fixtures were deeply disounted on Amazon, usually used.
The bathroom mirror had been my moms growing up it was on a stand but I cut off the bottom part, and repaired it. It is a bit aged. No one else wanted it. I may replace that as the bottom corner had the back faded and one guest, who had issues, mentioned it wasn't clean, but always get check mark for spotless bathroom.
Guest ask where I got the furniture or who decorated it and maybe a little disappointed it was just me finding stuff locally on classified ads.
It's was fun finding all of that. It saved a lot of money. I was already over budget with the renovation.
Even the little bookshelf and books are all second hand!
Oh and the two chairs my neighbor put them out on the curb as trash. I they used to be lighter tan but I ordered some dark synthetic covering off Amazon for like $10. They are very sturdy. Everything can hold over 400 pounds.
Cool post Huma. I mix it up in my listing. I live there some of the time so I want it to feel like a home away from home for my guests.
I feel the same, but my listings are in my own home, so it definitely doesn't have a sterile feel. I have a mixture of old and new. I don't want the house to look like a museum, although one guest commented that it does!
I shop in second hand stores for art for sure, also for various kitchen items. I used to buy bedding but matching sets are hard to find. I try to keep the least amount of furniture I can get away with for various reasons (less to Liss when cleaning, less to break).
I love to create art and do various projects around the house but regretfully have very little time.
It took me three years to finish my last piece. I took pictures of all three of my kids eyes in unusual light, blew them up, cut them in strips with rough edges and mixed them up to create a new set of eyes on a canvas backing. I put some sort of topper an art store recommended and it does not look exactly the way I envisioned it but still pretty good
Amazing that you create your own art! I would love to do that too, but you're right, it takes so much time.
What kind of kitchen items do you buy second hand? I have a lot of vintage china, silverware and glassware, but it's not for guest use. They are always breaking things. It looks pretty in the dining room and most guests are sensible enough not to touch it and don't need to be told!
I never thought about buying bedding second hand? Does everything need to match though? I think that mismatched bedding can actually look cooler, but you have to think carefully about what will work together. I have started to give this a go, but don't think I have quite mastered it yet...
There are some kitchen items that are significantly cheaper in a secondhand store. For example, silverware. I usually keep it mismatched. I don’t think it’s a big deal. Serving platters. The bedding – I try to keep it to neutral colors or something that can be matched with another solid color.
I'd be quite happy for guests to use my vintage silverware. It is real silver or, most often, silver plate, so starts to tarnish if it's not used. However, you cannot put it in the dishwasher and are supposed to wash and dry it pretty much straight away. I am afraid I don't trust guests to do that.
@Huma0 I had a win yesterday buying a small 3 piece bistro set, not vintage, but it's cute and was $99 rrp. Except they didn't have white tables (I'm guessing customers have taken the wrong ones) so they offered me the set with green table and white chairs for half price. nice. So i bought some yellow spray paint to paint the table yellow to suit out our theme (on a side note, i am not good at spray painting, I am really not impressed with the job i did). So while I was waiting a day for the paint to dry before putting it in place I set up the chairs with a sweet vintage/rustic fruit crate, and I personally prefer this 1000x more. But the matching table has been painted and I put it in place this afternoon. I am so underwhelmed by it. 😆 I have not taken a photo yet, cos meh.
but on a side note of my 2023 mantra that 'everything works out for me' (yes, it's a tiktok thing, no i don't do tiktok, my daughter shared it), I actually got this set for half price, and then I offered to buy the other set at half price (the sage green table is actually very nice), and then she offered me the 2 random chairs she had left at $25. So this little set up will go in another spot around the farm so i can enjoy it.
@Gillian166 That was definitely a bargain!
I have similar metal tables and chairs outside (bought on Ebay, also a bargain as the table is not the same colour as the chairs). What kind of spray paint are you using? I am sure it probably looks better than you think but, yes, getting a good finish with spray paint on a flat metal surface isn't that easy!
I guess your weather is not as damp as ours, but I find that these can rust. It's weird, because they are all powder coated and the ones on the terrace have not rusted (I guess it gets more sun), whereas the ones in the garden have rusted a lot.
These chairs in particular are very rusty now. Although I have had them for years, I'm loathe to just chuck them out, but getting the rust off will take forever as the are quite detailed. So, the plan was to use the straight to rust spray paints, which my mum said worked very well for her garden railings. But, they only come in really limited, basic colours and I can't find any that I like...
I like vintage crates too. They are not vintage, but I have a lot of old wine crates that I use for storage (used to have a housemate who worked for a wine merchant). I keep meaning to 'upcycle' them, but that's low on a long list of jobs!
@Huma0 Used the oil based, for metal, paint that comes in a can instead of the spray paint. First do the rust primer and then the paint.
It takes a LOT longer than the spray paint but if you are leaving the set out [as we do], it makes a huge difference in terms of how long the paint lasts.
I am sure you are right, but I was hoping for a speedier solution! There's a table, six chairs and a bench with a big arch over it that all need doing.
My mum did her garden railings (and there are a lot of them) in no time and it's lasted years. It's not the normal spray paint. It's specifically designed to use on rusted metal and is normally called 'straight to rust'. It also comes in tins, which is what I think she used.
Problem is it seems to come in really limited colours (white, black, silver, anthracite, very dark green) so I might have to just get stuck in and follow your method...
@Huma0 Yeah I do everything in black, but then I often forget if it's shiny or matte finish.
As to your original question, for sure, vintage all the way. I think the only legit antique I have which is from the 1890s is a chinese marriage chest. It may be my fav piece of furniture, instead of the usual plain circle of brass, in this piece the circle is an extremely detailed etching? and the pulls are also original and have similar etching design.
You do better on ebay for furniture than anyone I've ever come across. I never find anything for those kinds of prices, but do well at craigslist and local flea markets. Also have a few roadside pickups, because, why should a perfectly good piece of solid wood go into the trash? It's insane.
And yes to roadside pick ups! I have a few of those. They have been mostly picked up from outside fancy homes 🙂 Close to me there is a large old regency house that has been divided into apartments. You can tell the people there have money because of the cars parked outside! I have found a few gems dumped outside of there, most recently a pile of vintage books, some more than 100 years old.
I've not really tried Craiglist. It doesn't have the best reputation here, but I suppose I should take a look.
I LOVE flea markets, but the ones in London are very expensive. Whenever I am travelling, I try to visit a flea market if I can and I often bring home some vintage finds, but usually small things as it's usually impossible for me to get large items home. I also find that charity shops outside of London are fertile hunting grounds. Everything is cheaper in smaller towns.
I'll try to upload a photo of the actual chest, but it's like the one in this link, except it was stripped to its natural color, it had been originally painted red on the outside as there are some vestiges of the color, and ours has the original detailed brass designs on the disc and the handles.
I also picked up on the street?!?!?! a screen very similar to the one in the link...antique chinese carved soap stone. I got it literally minutes before the garbage truck came. I have no idea why the owner couldn't have given it away, and instead threw it carved side down onto the trash pile. I was going to take it when I thought it was just the gold painted bamboo on the back, and then I picked it up and realized that was the back and the front was gorgeous stone carving and inlay.
The Chinese Marriage Chest sounds amazing. Do you have a photo? I also have a small one, which was a hand me down from my mum and has detailed pulls, but I don't think it can even be classed as vintage, let alone antique, as I am pretty sure she bought it new 20 or 30 years ago. I also have a couple of other Chinese pieces, again which I bought new, but this one looks quite vintage, especially since some removal guys managed to damage it!
I am quite into that vintage Chinese style (also have a birdcage, but sadly a guest broke the very ornate hook and I've been unable to find anything to fix it with, so it's now sitting on a table rather than hanging), and I love Chinoiserie wallpaper or, at least, designs inspired by that.
Yes, I've managed to source some amazing furniture bargains on Ebay. I was lucky in that I found a seller who was bringing over vintage stuff from France, which was very much my style. The auctions were very popular, but I managed to bag quite a few pieces at bargain prices. Unfortunately, that seller has disappeared from the site, but maybe that's fortunate for me as it was too tempting and I really don't have room for more.
The other stuff was found by many hours trawling Ebay. Most of the good stuff at good prices is way outside of London and too far to pick up, so you do have to shift through all the rubbish before you find something decent and then be really on it. Even if something is listed as auction only, if I really, really want it and can see others are interested, I will contact the seller direct and ask if I can make an offer. Some of my best bargains were bought that way.
I guess it's all a question of time v money. As it's my own home that I have furnished slowly, that's not been an issue, but if I was trying to get a new listing ready from scratch in a limited timescale, it wouldn't be that easy.
@Huma0 We have one bedroom out of 6 furnished with modern furniture and it is horrible. Cheap, poorly made, and likely to fall apart if it had regular use. The other rooms have furniture that goes back as far as 200 years. There is a slight issue though that some of the furniture, whilst bought for peanuts, is actually becoming valuable so the days of gaily cutting the back out of a unit so that it hides the fusebox may be coming to an end!
What was the reason for having one room with modern furniture? Or was that just what you had to hand at the time?
Yes, you make a good point. If furniture is close to 200 years old, it is probably worth something! I wouldn't normally mess with an antique or paint over some original detail like marquetry. I would feel too guilty.
However, the examples I gave below of furniture I've painted are all vintage, but they are mid-Century reproductions of much earlier styles. I believe you can find these aplenty in the brocantes in France. While most of the piece is made from solid wood like oak, and often have lovely brass handles and hinges, usually the backs are just a cheaper hardboard, so I have no qualms about cutting a hole in those!
I didn't pay much for any of them. I think the chest of drawers was £35. But, could they be worth something? Probably. I've seen this kind of furniture sold for high prices at shops and markets in fancier parts of London.
Have you ever had any of your furniture valued?
@Huma0 the 'modern' bedroom furniture was there when we bought the place. We then furnished the other rooms. We haven't valued anything but went to an auction yesterday where furniture was selling for multiples of what we paid 3 years ago.
We have painted Victorian furniture which could turn out to be an expensive mistake.