So one of my hobbies is, basically, buying old things.
Yeurp, I’m one of those retro/vintage junkies who can’t help collecting bits and pieces from the past. Mostly, I’m into furniture and kitchen pieces, rather than, say, fashion and jewellery. I’ve never considered myself much of a canvas so I prefer to fill my flat with second-hand things and surround myself with interesting pieces rather than necessarily be a walking clothes rack.
Thrift shopping is THE best fun in the world, if you do it right. Too many people, in my humble opinion, abuse the fine art of bargain hunting by waltzing into an “antique shop” or “vintage store” and paying whopping prices. Granted, if you can afford it, go for it – but where’s the fun in paying full price? Personally, I always avoid shops like that – if they know the beauty of what they have, they’ll charge for it – and they’ll undoubtedly charge too much.
For me, the real fun is hunting for bargains, and finding hidden gems. The best places to go are good old fashioned charity shops – or thrift stores in the USA – second hand shops and bootsales/yard sales. Ebay and Etsy are all good, but remember, if it’s really special then the chances are the seller will have reserves, or the buyers will bid the price right up.
I’ve got hundreds of vintage things – recently, I developed a crazy passion for Chance Glass, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. Pics will come!
But for now, I’ll post a few pictures of some of my most recent buys, just to give you guys a little glimpse into my life.
I recently bought these from a bootsale on a windy Sunday morning, and I was so excited to bring them home. I’ve seen all of these things up for whopping prices before – I’ve seen poorer examples of the sewing box selling for £18-£26, for instance.
The Price Kensington cookie jar is actually something I used to think was hideous – it was a jar I seemed to see in every house harping back to my childhood, and I couldn’t seem to get away from them. Then, for some reason, I decided they were a timeless piece – even though they’re undoubtedly the junky brick-a-brac of their day. Timeless or not, I fell in love with it, and I needed it in my life. I paid £3.
The “fashion shape” gravy boat is just the most beautiful thing, and the picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s 1950s and I use it every chance I get. I paid £2 for it.
The sewing box was amidst a bunch of old tools and other junk on some guy’s table. He sold it to me for just £2.
The plate rack now holds my beautiful J&G Meakin bowls and plates – a dinner service that I’m still building up – and I think I paid £1.50 for it.
Those velvet curtains in the background were purchased for about £17 at a bootsale a year or more ago, before I moved in to my flat. They’re perfect for my huge Victorian windows, and believe me, buying curtains brand new for windows that size would’ve set me back over £100 easily.
A few months ago I went through a “MUST HAVE G-PLAN 70s FURNITURE!” phase and decided I needed to give upcycling a try after watching too much Kirsty Allsopp. I don’t think it’s a real G-plan chest, but one rainy day, when I set out to find a chest of drawers, I found it – what a weird stroke of luck. It was raining, too, so I didn’t hold out much hope, but there it was. I bought it for £7 and painted it myself. Not everbody’s colour tastes, but hey-ho.
That’s a fake PK cookie jar, btw, which I had before I found a genuine one. I now use it to hold tea bags along with my Sadler mexican coffee bean guy. That sweetie jar was given to me by my mum, the best thrifter in the west. It’s pretty old, but I’m not sure how old. Around 1940s, I think.
This is my beloved yellow Formica table. It isn’t a dop-leaf, but it is beautiful and it is MIIIIINE, ALL MIIIINE! I found this at my favourite furniture shop, Sue Ryder, and it was up for £20. We happened to drive by and I noticed it outside, beckoning me. I knocked them down to £10 and took it home that minute.
You can’t see them very well, but those glasses are Dandy characters from 1989, which I bought from Fairhavens for £2.
This is just a little shelf I found in Sue Ryder for £2 and painted white. Those mini casseroles were from my mum – she also gave me two larger ones and a massive crock – so I didn’t pay for those. The picnic tin is, I reckon, probably 1960s? It’s an amazing little bit of kit with a spring top. My mother also gave me that – or rather, like most things from my mum, I nicked it!
I have the whole set of this – it’s an absolutely gorgeous tea set. It’s either 50s or 60s, I’m guessing. I bought this at a bootsale, along with about five pieces of Chance glass nibbles-plates for £8 in total.
This is an absolutely beautiful Tunbridge cabinet that I bought from Sue Ryder for £45. It was £55, but I bought something else with it (to follow!) and managed to combine delivery charges with it, so that’s what it worked out as. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s empty here because I’d only just got it, but now it’s full of 50s pink elephant cocktail glasses and cake stands. I also have a 70s Expelair fan sitting on top because we’ve had so much heat this summer. This cabinet goes for a few hundred quid, so I got a major bargain. It even has a Formica top.
I bought this when I was obsessed recently with getting myself a bar, like Delboy’s in Only Fools and Horses. I didn’t have space for one, but I DID have space for a cocktail cabinet. It even plugs in and lights up. I wanted a pineapple ice bucket for it, but my finacé drew the line, there, hahaha. I settled for a mini Crystal D’arques ice bucket bought for £2 at Fairhavens instead.
This is the corner cabinet I bought with the Tunbridge cocktail cabinet. It was £15, but I knocked them down to £10 and very cheekily asked if they could include postage in the price. I NEARLY got told to clear off – but the saleswoman went soft on me in the end. So, after haggling, I paid just £65 including delivery for what WOULD have cost me £80 if I’d paid the asking prices and the delivery.
I’d planned to paint this white, but decided that I loved the flame patterns in the wood.
Even better? On its arrival, I discovered it was actually a Beresford & Hicks cabinet. One of these, painted white – or “upcycled” – went for £180 on Ebay in MY TOWN! I just couldn’t believe my luck. It now holds my TAMS tea set, the tea set above, and most of my Chance glass in the cabinet section. On the shelves I have some kooky 50s ceramics. I adore it.
Lastly but certainly not least, I bought this lovely lot yesterday. It’s an art deco 1930s dressing table set, in the most beautiful design, “Kiralpo”, by Keeling & Co. I bought this at a bootsale for £4 and it now holds my junk jewellery and a silver vanity set, on my 1960s Louis-style dressing table, of course! I *think* it’s 1930s, but it actually could be earlier.
That little gold compact doesn’t have a makers mark that I can see. However, it is engraved with the initials “A V” and the date, 10. 4. 47. I’d love to know the story behind this, and I wished I’d asked the seller if he knew, but I got the impression he didn’t. It includes a mesh powder section with a spring-lid and a perfect mirror inside. The little powder-sponge is embroidered with the words “Angel face”, which was just too adorable not to buy. I paid £2 for it.
So, there we are. Those are just a few things I’ve bought recently, though I could talk for ever about all the other quirky bits and pieces I’ve filled my flat with.
My obsession with old bits ‘n’ bobs definitely stems from my upbringing, because I think my mum and I share this sense of belonging amongst pre-loved things with plenty of history behind them. Growing up, I always joked that our house was like Steptoe and Son’s, but it looks like she’s passed the baton to me.
I remember buying a knitted owl for 10p at a church bootsale as a child, purely because the seller had asked me, “Do you want to take him home for 10p?” It was a hideous toy, but I felt so sorry for it that I couldn’t walk away. Somebody had loved him once, and, after all, the seller had said “him”. You can’t go around personifying inanimate objects and expect me not to become attached! You just can’t!
And, thus, another thrifter was born.
Do you love thrifting? Let me know in the comments!
In other news, I just returned from a gorgeous camping trip in Devon, and I miss the fresh air already. It’s back to my transcribing work tomorrow, and luckily I’d built up enough work before my week away to make up for the lost time. I’ve already gone and bought a gorgeous pair of pink wellies, so I shouldn’t imagine it’ll be long before me and my fiancé are off camping again. We’ve certainly caught the camping bug.