Buying old and making new
Doing up the house is an expensive business so we like to keep costs down. We also like to have things that are unique. Welcome to the world of Preloved, secondhand, nearly new. We have picked up mirrors, lights, chest of drawers, coffee tables and lots of chairs (even the dog is a rescue). We have had a few disasters such as the antique chair which had woodworm in the legs and snapped in half when my brother sat on it. In hindsight it was worth the £10 the chair cost just for the comedy value and look on his face.
Here is one of our better buys an antique french mirror (sorry picture is a bit small). The silver is all foxed (distressed) and bevelled , the frame is plaster. These are all good signs that the mirror is actually old. I found it on preloved for £15 and it was a pick up only in the next postcode from me. Antique French mirrors cost a lot in Antique shops usually around £200 to £500, so this was a bargain.
The mirror was quite garish in the flesh so I bought some gold paint for £7 (total outlay now £22) to tone down the black and the orange gold.
I painted the back frame antique gold in thin coats and left it to dry. The mirror looks great it is 26″ high and 20″ wide and very heavy. We have put it in the fireplace (salvage yard find, then sand blasted and spray painted with stove paint) with another preloved piece a large pancheon bowl (£50 for three bowls and a selection of earthenware pots) and placed a pot of lilies in it.
As I mentioned, antique French mirror sell for around £200 to £500, and pancheon bowls are usually £40 -£60 each so I was very happy with my finds (and those lilies are a lot taller than they look!).
Research research research.
- Hunt around for what you like in magazines and bars and then keep an eye out on sites like ebay, preloved, freecycle.
- Check measurements and descriptions carefully make sure it isn’t too big or too small for your needs
- Is it pick up only? if so are you really willing to drive that far? (I once drove 100 mile round journey for a sink, but it was a bargain)
- Use search terms such as vintage and antique to bring up some unexpected items
- Is it a bargain? make sure you know how much the item would normally cost and would you buy it
- Remember to be Zen (read my guide to Zen house renovation) about seconhand finds, it might not be what you wanted but it could be what you need
- Does it have woodworm! or in other words why are they selling. You don’t want anything broken unless you have an idea of how to re use it. I bought a table top with no bottom because I wanted to use it as a worktop in the laundry room (£10)