Can’t Find A Low Bedside Table?

milking stool bedside table

I’ve recently redecorated my spare room. And although it’s not quite ready for ‘before and after’ pictures just yet (it’s still lacking in furniture), I thought I’d share my ingenious bedside table discovery.

It’s tricky to find a bedside table to go alongside a futon bed. It’s so low; you don’t want your guests having to awkwardly reach up from bed to set down their book or glasses.

I originally had the idea of a tree trunk table, similar to this from French Connection, but about half the height. I scoured the web to no avail, and didn’t feel brave enough to grab an axe and hack down one of my own. Then I had a brainwave, and started search for a small wooden stool instead.

As usual, eBay was my first port of call, and it didn’t fail me.  I managed to pick up this lovely little antique milking stool for the princely sum of £15. It’s just the right height, with enough space for my new little Habitat lamp (£28) and a glass of water (or a cluster of snowdrops in this case).

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How To Buy Vintage Furniture On eBay

Kaths-ebay-bargains-chairs

Liz is the queen of the charity shop furniture find. She ferrets out a bargain like a true Yorkshire lass – those poor Mancunians mustn’t know what’s hit them.

I, on the other hand, am a dab hand at the eBay furniture auction. I’m generally a mild mannered sort, but an eBay auction brings out the competitive side of me.  I’m not proud to say it but I do get a bit of a thrill from making a last minute bid to swipe away a bargain from my fellow vintage furniture hunters.

When we first moved into our house from our little two bed flat, we had a small amount of (mostly Ikea) furniture and a lot of space to fill.  I wanted to invest in pieces to last, but also didn’t want to bankrupt us (particularly as we’d just spent most of our spare cash on buying the house itself).

eBay turned out to be our saviour – the dining room is furnished completely from eBay buys – the table, chairs, sideboard, settle, drinks cabinet and dresser all came from the auction site.

Kaths-ebay-bargains-montage

It does take some getting to grips with though, and you have to invest a bit of time to sort the wheat from the chaff and be fairly savvy to not pay over the odds. Here are some tips I use to make the experience easier:

1. Narrow down search results - when you’re searching for items you can us the ‘minus’ sign to exclude certain words (or certain sellers).  For example if you want to search for cabinet, but exclude filing cabinets you can search for “cabinets -filing”.  Filter options are also handy – I always use the item location filter to see if any items are within pick-up distance of my postcode (to avoid paying delivery costs).

2. Choose your words carefully – when an eBay search brings hundreds of items back, I add in descriptors  (like ‘rustic’ or ‘farmhouse’) to narrow it down to a specific style (though ‘vintage’ – it can return a lot of dodgy second hand stuff!).  If it’s quality you’re after, look at the period filters in the ‘antiques’ category.   Within ‘antique’ you’ll see items that are new but antique ‘style’, but if you filter to ‘Edwardian’ you tend to get the real deal.  If painted furniture’s your bag, try searching by paint names like ‘Farrow and Ball’ and ‘Annie Sloane’.

3. Check out the going rate -for an item like a kitchen dresser where there are a lot of vintage options on eBay, it can help to look at previous prices to get a sense of what’s good value.  To see what price similar items have gone for, go into the advanced search, type in your search terms, and check the box to search ‘sold listings’.  It’s a useful gauge to check that you don’t pay over the odds, but remember that if you’re looking at vintage furniture, factors such as condition and provenance can affect price.

4. Bidding techniques – don’t bid too early and never get into a bidding war – it can force the price up, and you’ll be showing your hand to other bidders early on. My golden rules are:

– set myself a budget

– set an alert on my phone to remind me of when the item is due to end

– get myself logged in within 10 minutes of the auction ending

– bid close enough to end of the auction to beat other bidders, but give myself enough time to re-bid if the offer isn’t high enough. Even if you’re the only person bidding, you may bid under the (hidden) reserve price set by the seller, so you need time to put a second bid in before the auction closes.  I usually go in at about 20-40 seconds to go (depending on how long I can hold my nerve!).

–  make my maximum bid just higher than a round number.  If the most I’m willing to pay is £100 I would actually bid £101.10, as some people will bid £100.10 or £101 to try to pip you to the post in the dying seconds of the auction (it’s a vicious game!).   Remember – eBay will only bid just enough to beat the highest bidder, so you don’t actually have to pay the maximum unless someone puts in counter bids to drive your bid up.

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Glastonbury Weekend: Antics in Axbridge

fauxglasto

There were eight of us. We wanted Glastonbury tickets, it didn’t happen. We wanted to get drunk and dance to aging rock stars and maybe talk to a woman who converses with the oak tree in the Green Fields.  We thought about this…even without the tickets we reckoned we could still make that happen. And so mission #fauxglasto began.

We needed a place to stay and all credit goes to Kath here for all her research and organisation, if you haven’t already seen our previous post about our shortlisted options you should take a look – there are some real gems.

The house we selected won us over for one pretty cool reason – the fact it has it’s very own cinema. Perfect. If we couldn’t glimpse Dolly as a sparkly dot on a stage in real life, then live close up mud-free footage with cinema quality sound and seats would do for us. It was geographically pretty close to the real Glastonbury too, located in Axbridge, Somerset you could see the Glastonbury Tor from the top floor of the house.

Axbridge Roxy Cinema

The building itself is pretty striking, a restored Georgian coaching inn, with a pink limewash finish and accommodation spread over three floors.  There was so much to take in – each room is packed to the rafters with antique furnishings and quirky objects. From the old fashioned library with it’s floor to ceiling books to the Art Nouveau cinema and cocktail bar (theoretically this kind of decade style swapping shouldn’t work but there’s a sense of humour about the place that manages to knit everything together).

Our Faux Glasto House

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It’s a design enthusiasts dream. Whether it’s the original features or the artful additions of the owners, there was plenty to inspire. Below are some of my favourite details from the house, including light switches in the library, art deco inspired lamp in the bar,  50s Sanderson fabric curtains and a demonic grinning cat guarding the alcohol behind the bar.

fauxglasto

As for our #fauxglasto weekend, yes ok it wasn’t the same as being there but heck it sure was a pretty good second best. And don’t worry the interior chat was kept to a minimum – there’s only so much talking you can do after Kath hands you yet another bottle of Somerset strength cider….

Visit AirBnB to see more lovely pictures of the place and book your stay.

 

 

 

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Baileys Home: Reclaimed & Rustic Treasures

Retail-crushes-baileys-home

I stumbled across the website of Baileys Home 8 years ago when I was searching for a globe for my very first flat*.  It’s run by a husband and wife team who live in Bridstow, Herefordshire.

Though I’ve never had the opportunity to visit their bricks and mortar store and tea room, I love to browse their website to find gems in their hand-picked selection of household items which blend genuine vintage finds in with goods from reclaimed / re-used sources, as well as contemporary products which fit with their simple, rustic country-cottage style.

Their range spans from home  basics like kitchenware and hardware , to larger items like lighting and occasional furniture and storage, by way of some interesting curios for kids. They also sell traditional butler’s sinks and have recently expanded into curtain poles and sofas (though these are at the higher end price range wise).

Postage wise it’s worthwhile bundling a few items together. Currently I’ve got my eye on: this recycled glass carafe, this fig handwash (love the bottle), and this cute cotton monkey to put away as a kid’s present.

 

* In hindsight I’m not quite sure why a globe was up high on my list of first flat purchases – probably to inspire holiday planning to satisfy my itchy feet. They no longer sell the version I bought, but you they do stock these twirly hanging globes.


 

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Charity shop finds: Furnishing your house for less

Vintage-Furniture-chairty-shopping

After moving from a small flat into our three bed terrace we had a lot of space to fill, but no money to spend on the furnishings needed to fill it. I’ve always been a charity shop fan but never really considered them as a place to buy furniture, but now my priorities have changed from dresses to dressers I’ve discovered a wealth of them that are dedicated to that very thing.

There is a certain amount of luck and patience involved in the pursuit of a bargain but the key is to go in with an open mind, they’re never going to have an exact replica of that coffee table you’ve been dreaming about for months. In fact we’ve found it works out for the best if you don’t go with a particular item in mind either. Last week we snapped up an old fashioned Gentlemans’ wardrobe from our local YMCA, complete with labelled compartments including space for ‘underwear and pyjamas’. It’s perfect for our spare room but we didn’t know we wanted or needed it until we saw it!

Gentlemans Wardrobe

Of course many of these items do require a little TLC, so it’s not quite as easy(?) as assembling an IKEA flat-pack, you often need to spend a little more time nurturing them back to life. Often they just need a good clean but when you’re browsing try and picture how you could improve upon it, sometimes a simple as a lick of paint or a change of handle could transform that cabinet you can buy with your loose change. I intend to document the renewal of my charity shop buys here, which so far includes a sideboard, record cabinet, dresser and the aforementioned wardrobe.

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Your Vintage Life: Affordable retro furniture at your fingertips

Your Vintage Life

I stumbled across this gem of an online shop, yourvintagelife.co.uk, after attending last years Vintage Home Show at Victoria Baths in Manchester. The Baths were packed full of fabulous retro furniture for sale but this particular stall stood out – not only because of the pieces on display but the prices attached to them. Vintage, retro, whatever the buzzword is has more often than not become an excuse for retailers to double the price of the item in question. But not these guys, their stock has that magical and rare combination of style and affordability. From 1960s kitchenware like these floral Crown Devon storage jars  to larger items such as this 1970s G-plan unit.

The shop, which they describe as ‘an award winning, online retail emporium selling treasures from the 1920s through to the 1980s’, is run by super cool couple Kate and Adam. Their vintage adventure began back in 2008 and Kate has even written a book on the topic ‘Style your modern vintage home’. So check out their shop, they definitely know their stuff.

 

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French Affair Antiques: Gallic Flair in Sheffield

Montage of products from French Affair Antiques

I have a love / hate relationship with antique shopping; I love the idea of it (and the gems that other people seem to uncover), but after a couple of hours of trawling through dusty trinkets I start to lose the will to live.

I’m essentially a lazy antiques buyer, who prefers someone to have done the junk sifting beforehand, and for the shop to not be attempting to break some kind of world record for the most items you can stuff into a room.

I might lose out on a bargain or two with this approach, but I can’t help but feel that the time / frustration saving is worth it.

My favourite shops are those that not only junk-sift on your behalf, but also actively curate the products, and work at presenting a specific style. Typically these shops are much more accessible; literally as well as figuratively. You can browse without being overwhelmed, and if their style chimes with yours, then you’ve found your perfect shop-match.

One such lovely store is in the fair city of Sheffield. It as a bustling antiques quarter, and even an antiques trail, but French Affair Antiques is a stand out. It sells simple French furniture and decorative items such as baskets, linens and glassware.  All wares are tastefully selected and well presented, both in their shop and online (which means I can check out new purchases without having to nip down the M1).

On our last visit we bought this little armchair for our study, reupholstered in a heather/grey linen:

grey armchair

I also bought a vintage wicker basket for my recipe files:

wicker basket

And this wooden trug, which we repurposed as a magazine holder for our living room:

wooden trug with magazines in

I’m currently coveting the French Shop Steps to help me reach the top shelves in the study, so it probably won’t be long until I drag the long-suffering husband back down for another visit…

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