Decorating with vintage or secondhand: Do you or don't you?

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

Decorating with vintage or secondhand: Do you or don't you?

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.

PJMPHOTO19Q149-London-Huma_70_92B2870_RET.jpg

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!

25 Replies 25
Gillian166
Level 10
Hay Valley, Australia

@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. 

BA8074E4-BD87-45E7-A064-E2FEF3F14E28.JPG

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. 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@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...

 

ade0f62a-18e6-44f7-b393-f5538c982e1a.jpg

 

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!

Mark116
Level 10
Jersey City, NJ

@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.  

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Mark116 

 

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...

Mark116
Level 10
Jersey City, NJ

@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.

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Mark116 

 

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. 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Mark116 

 

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! 

Stockwell-SW9-london-houses-042-1200x1800.jpg

 

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.

Mike-And-Jane0
Level 10
England, United Kingdom

@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!

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Mike-And-Jane0 

 

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?

Mike-And-Jane0
Level 10
England, United Kingdom

@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.

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Mike-And-Jane0 

 

I think that 'brown' furniture was deeply unfashionable for many years, so lots of people were chucking out Victorian and Edwardian stuff and you could pick it up very cheaply. I've bought Victorian chairs for £5 or £10 for example. 

 

That's started to change in the past few years, so yes, I can imagine it's more valuable now. 

 

I think that you can get the paint off and refinish the pieces, but that's a lot of graft and not a fun job! 

Yes, I do as well. Modern furniture has no craftsmanship or charm. It has the personality of a wet dish rag, quite frankly.

I have eclectic furniture, from Chippendale to French Provincial to Queen Anne. None of it is matched, but it blends together nicely. Have received quite a few compliments on my decor.

I did have a few folks on Social Media tell me my home was "stuffy" and too "Downton Abbey" but most people have been quite complimentary. I thanked them for the compliment because, like you, I enjoy a classy look.

Stephanie2468_1-1674524156597.png



Stephanie2468_4-1674524284250.png

 

Stephanie2468_7-1674524395276.png

 

Stephanie2468_8-1674524443129.png

 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Stephanie2468 

 

I do like that little half moon table. It's very pretty. Is all your furniture as you found it or did some of it need restoring?

 

Well, it's not everyone's cup of tea of course. I know plenty of people who favour a cleaner, more minimalist aesthetic, and I can appreciate that too when it's done well. Hopefully those people can also appreciate my style, even if it's not their own personal taste. 

 

It can also depend on the architecture of the home. My house is nearly 200 years old and has a lot of period features (maybe not all original, but certainly very old). Yes, of course one can decorate such a space with modern furniture and do it well, but I've just gone with it, and feel that it's more in keeping. 

 

I do have modern furniture too. I'm not against that. But, the modern stuff I have is EXPENSIVE (even if I got it all at bargain prices), not the cheap flatpack stuff that's going to fall apart if you try to move it!

 

Still, I prefer to buy vintage if I can. I think it's a more sustainable choice. I really hate to see nice old furniture discarded as if it's rubbish. There is a very grand large Georgian house near me which has sadly fallen into disrepair. It's owned by the motor shop opposite simply so they can use the huge carpark. Recently, they dumped a load of antique furniture outside. I went to check it out, but unfortunately, it was badly broken, or missing sections and past saving with my skills. I hope a carpenter or someone who knows how to fix these things picked it up and that it didn't become firewood 😞

Gillian166
Level 10
Hay Valley, Australia

lol "too Downtown Abbey", I'd take that as a compliment!

We have a room I used to call my "pride and prejudice room" but now I call my "Bridgerton room". kinda sad about that, cos P&P is one of my fave novels, and I've never read a bridgerton novel, only seen the 2 seasons, but "bridgerton" gets their attention.  My room is nowhere near as fancy as the Bridgerton set, nor could 2 ladies "take a turn about the room".  

 

PR_ladiesroom2022.jpg

 

This space used to be accessible to our house guests but once we put in a kitchenette we blocked them from accessing this space. 

 

the only "vintage" pieces here are the music sheets and the hint of a china cabinet just in frame on the left, it's only art deco so barely 100 years old. 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Gillian166 

 

By the way, what is the paint colour you've used in the Bridgerton room?

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Gillian166 

 

Ah, Bridgerton. That makes sense! Maybe you can change it back to Pride and Prejudice once the Bridgerton craze has worn off! 

 

Is the piano not vintage though? It doesn't look modern...

Gillian166
Level 10
Hay Valley, Australia

@Huma0  the piano is old, yes. It is my MIL's piano from South Africa, that she actually shipped to Australia in the 90s, alongside many, many, many other furniture items.  not sure how old it is. They sold their house a few years ago, and came to live on our farm for half the year (they also have a unit by the sea in Qld) and brought everything with them, UGH. and then gave me half of it. 😞  So the piano we got, it needs a tune but it's passable. But it's actually now cheaper to buy a new piano, they are so cheap. She told me I could paint it (cos she knows that's what I do) and so far I haven't as that one bit of timber in the room is ok.  Pinterest has a lot of cool ideas, but at this stage I'm ok with it as is. 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Gillian166 

 

And what is the rest of the furniture they gave you like? Is there nothing you can do with it?

Ana2038
Level 7
Santa Ana, CA

 

China HutchChina HutchMedia ConsoleMedia ConsoleBFC1AC18-2F4D-44BA-81F1-8F52A3703F4B.jpeg

 

@Huma0,  I love vintage finds and wholeheartedly agree that these pieces hold up much longer than the furniture made today or 10 years ago. The solid wood, and dovetail construction (no glue or staples) can’t be beat. I personally don’t have any in my listing (wouldn’t want them damaged). I use to up cycle furniture when chalk paint was the rage. The pieces in the pictures attached are pieces I have acquired through Craigslist (local online marketplace). I have had two professionally refinished (the china hutch & the sideboard ). Both were purchased at substantially less than their true value. In fact, I saw the sideboard on eBay being listed at $1800.00 (US). I purchased the piece for $150.00. The china hutch, so the story goes, belonged to an individual who belonged in the mafia (back in the 50’s). Nope, we didn’t find Jimmy Hoffa in the hutch (lol).  My media console, was originally a dresser, has been up cycled 3x so far. Again, I was able to secure this piece for $250.00 and saw it listed on Etsy for $1500.00+. Due to the inferior construction of furniture today, I ended up having some pieces custom made at a fraction of their cost (my handyman loves woodworking projects I give him). 


I’d buy more vintage items but I just don’t have the room in my home. 

 

Gillian166
Level 10
Hay Valley, Australia

@Ana2038  that media console is lush!!!!!!!!!!!

Explore Resource Center articles

Making your home ready for guests
Tips from Airbnb plus hosts: How to add thoughtful touches
Supporting guests during their stay