Apple Crate Side Table

Say hello to the newest addition to our dining room!

In its previous life it was a pre-war apple crate, but with a bit of TLC it’s been re-purposed into a  2-4-1 piece of furniture, providing us with a new side table for our settle as well as some overflow storage for my (allegedly excessive) recipe book collection.

I picked it up on eBay for a bargainous £16.95  including UK postage.  They are sold pretty rough and ready, so they aren’t washed or sanded and they show a bit of wear and tear, but it doesn’t take much effort to get them looking pretty.

I gave this one a light sand down  – enough to knock off the roughest edges, but not so much that it sanded away the original branding, or the rustic look and feel.  Originally I was going to wax it, and I did use a clear Briwax on the inside (worked in with some wire wool), but I switched up to a couple of coats of clear varnish on the outside to give more protection from water marks and to seal some of the remaining rough, splintery bits.

All in all it was about £20 and an hour or so’s labour to give this crate a second lease of life (and in a cider lover’s home – very fitting!)

 

p.s. if you don’t fancy the hassle of prepping them yourself, you can also pick some up here from Baileys Store where they pre-scrub them for you.

 

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Rad Studio: Funky Homeware & Gifts In Saltaire, Yorkshire

Retail-crushes-radstudio

Liz and I are longtime fans of the village of Saltaire in West Yorkshire.  Not only is the UNESCO World Heritage Site home to Salts Mill and host to our beloved Bradford Beer Festival, but it’s also boasts a great range of independent shops, making it a hotspot for design and vintage lovers.

Rad Studio on the Saltaire main street is a riot of colour and fantastic spot for picking up design-friendly homewares and gifts that suit a range of budgets.

I stop in every time I’m in the village and find it very difficult to leave empty handed – I’ve picked up cards, jewellery, an iphone case, gifts and some pretty little copper and ceramic bowls which I use to house my earrings and bracelets.

earrings in small green and copper bowls

It’s got a great laid-back vibe, which I love, as my pet hate is high-design concept shops that make you feel intimidated or under pressure to buy. It’s lovely owner Ali is on twitter over at @radstudiouk, so you can follow her there for updates on special offers and new items in store.

I’ve selected some of my favourites below (under the cut), from their website, but if you’re in the area it’s definitely worth stopping in for a mooch around as they have an even bigger range in store…

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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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Our Favourite: Armchairs

In my opinion it’s best to play it safe when it comes to sofas – after all they don’t come cheap, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to afford to change your mind too often. But I think you can justify being that little more adventurous when it comes to your choice of armchair. Take a glance at some of our current favourites.  (And yes, I may have been watching Mad Men whilst making the shortlist…can you tell?)

More can be found over on our dedicated pinterest board

Our-favourite-armchairs

1. Armchair in Putty Linara Mad Men £399, 2. Mid Century Rocking Chair in Orange £395, 3. Brown leather Chesterfield £699, 4. Charcoal Velvet Occasional Chair £395, 5. G Plan Vintage The Fifty Five Armchair £799, 6. 1950s Mid Century Modern Style Leather Armchair £595 , 7. Bespoke Parker Knoll Patchwork Armchair in Designers Guild fabric £395

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Our Favourite: Occassional Tables

There’s always an occassion for an occassional table. Whether it’s a cup of tea, a bottle of wine or a bowl full of crisps. Give your snacks some stature and invest in one of these splendid side tables…

You can see more of our favourites here

 

Our-favourite-occassional-tables

1. LÖVBACKEN Side table, medium brown £40, 2. Accordian Plant Stand £55.00  3. Gallery side table £175, 4. Metal Nesting Tables £100, 5. Kare Gorilla Side Table £120.00, 6. Wooden Tray Table £49.50, 7. Antique Copper Side Table  £130, 8. BLYTH PINKS Lacquered Yellow storage side table £95, 9. Teak coffee/side tables by G Plan £75

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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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Our Favourite: Hallway Furniture

I’ve been decorating my hall for about 18months now (it’s not that big, i’m just that slow) so I’ve had plenty of time to think about how I’d like to furnish it. However, living in a typical redbrick Manchester terrace means the hallway is incredibly narrow, and the ceilings incredibly high so room for furniture is limited. My dreams of owning a lovely midcentury telephone bench have sadly been put on hold. The space I do have though I hope to utilise for  hanging coats, organising post and displaying books. So here’s my ‘slim pickings’ for narrow hallways (note the dream ercol bench – couldn’t resist)

More over on our Pinterest board

Our-favourite-hallway-furniture

1. Graham & Green | Wire Floor Storage £125, 2. Urban Outfitters | Scroll Shelf in Teal £20, 3. Habitat | Twiggy Natural Wood Oak coat stand £150, 4. Ark Midcentury | Ercol telephone bench £295, 5. England at Home | Botanica Shelving Unit £329.99, 6. Cox and Cox | Antiqued Metal Console Table £180, 7. Not on the Highstreet | Pigeon Post Letter Rack £20

 

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Our Favourite: Bedside Tables

No bedroom is complete without bedside tables.  I don’t care whether they match, or even if they’re just an upturned crate, but any bedroom in a glossy design magazine that doesn’t have bedside tables won’t cut the mustard with me, no matter how beautifully decorated.

Where would you put your nighttime reading?  Your alarm clock?  Your evening tipple? Your graveyard of used daily contact lenses? (that one might be just me…).  They’re a bedroom essential and mine are in need of an upgrade.  It might just be a sand and paint job, but if I was going to splash out on new ones, these would be on my list…

Our-favourite-bedside-tables

1. West Elm | Parquetry Bedside Table £199.95 sale price (£15 p&p)   2. Urban Outfitters | Factory Side Table in Mint £60 (free p&p)  3. French Connection | Small Wooden Cube £95 (collect in store)  4. Design Vintage | Vintage French Cupboard £175 (£5.95 p&p)  5. Etsy | Upcycled Vivienne Westwood Squiggle bedside tables £250 for 2 (£29 p&p)  6. Loaf | Campaign retro style bedside table £225 (£4.95 p&p)   7. Graham & Green | Giogio Dark Bedside £295 (delivery costs vary by location)

See our full Pinterest list of bedside tables for more ideas.

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Our Favourite: Dining Tables

We bought our first house two years ago now and I remember there being tons of stuff we needed to buy but the purchase I was most excited about was the dining table. Having previously lived in small rented flats, we never had any dining furniture let alone a room dedicated to the cause. Consequently it was one of the first things we bought. I figured it was an investment, one that would pay for itself after the first year – you see by eating in and having friends over for tea and drinks we’d save money by not going out as often, or at least that was the idea…

My dining room furniture choices were inspired by the cover of ‘Simply Scandinavian’ by Sara Norman, a book showcasing the very best of Scandi interiors. Unable to find (or more likely afford) the exact table I found a very similar one, from Made.com for only £299. There’s plenty of choice out there though, take a look at some of our favourites below. As you can see the industrial style seems to be trending at the moment, I’m quite keen on the refectory table on wheels from Rose and Grey.

Our complete pinterest collection can be viewed here.

Our-favourite-dining-tables

 1.Refectory Table £675 (Free delivery), 2. Vintage Iroko School Lab Table Desk £230 (£60 p&p), 3. 1960’s extendable French dining table £180 (delivery quote upon request), 4. Grey Washed (concrete effect) Top Dining Table £465 (£5.95 p&p), 5. Reclaimed Industrial Chic 6-8 Seater Solid Wood and Metal Dining Table  £295 (£70 p&p), 6. Ebbe Gehl for John Lewis Mira Dining Room Furniture £650 (Free delivery), 7. Quirky Interiors Aged Oak Zinc topped table, Made to Measure £540.00 – £960.00 (contact for delivery quote), 8. Sylvester Dining Table and Bench £1,100.75 (£58 p&P)

 

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My Orange Ercol

My orange ercol

(ignore the floral paper – we’ve yet to decorate this room)

We went shopping for a coffee table and came back with a new chair. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m not usually one for impulse buys, even if there is a jacket in the sale for a tenner I like to go away and think about it – perhaps spend the equivalent in coffee and cake and then go back to buy it.

Vintage furniture markets have a strange effect on me though, maybe it’s the added pressure of knowing that often there’s only one of them available and I don’t have the option to sleep on it or order it online later.  In this particular instance though I knew I had to have this chair, it was perfect for our dining room, somewhere comfy to sit and listen to records. It was also reasonably priced – a rarity at a vintage fair. I’ve featured the sellers from Your Vintage Life before, their site is well worth a visit.

I’m sure you recognise the design, it’s an Ercol chair complete with the original fabric, featured in the ad below (an advert it seems which is still effective, as I really want the matching stool now too!)

Ercol chair

Ercol are British furniture manufacturers established in 1920 and famed for their innovative, affordable and long-lasting designs.  Their bentwood frame and the arched wooden back has become something of a signature, and is a timeless classic that’s still going strong today (take a look at the originals section on the Ercol site). Good design stands the test of time and this piece certainly has. Now the real test – whether it can survive another 50 years in my company…

 

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