In Monday’s post I shared some of the tips I’ve learned from years of going to auctions. In Skint’s opinion you just can’t beat the auction room as a place to kit out a stylish home on a shoestring. That post got me thinking about my favourite auction buys:
Mirrors: If you buy just one thing at auction, make it a mirror. Department stores sell expensive ‘vintage style’ mirrors but the real thing can be found tumbling out of
auction rooms for a song up and down the country. Vintage mirrors come in all shapes: super-sized ornate ones for the mantlepiece, little art deco numbers for the bathroom job lots of odd-sized ones which make a great feature hung together in the hall. So resolve here and now never to buy a mirror in a proper shop again – unless it’s one of those magnifying light up one for plucking your eyebrows. For everything else, go vintage.
Wardrobes:My favourite auction buy is an Art Nouveau wardrobe, the centre panel a gorgeous swirl of carved wood flowers and trees. Inside, it’s got dinky little compartments for gloves and scarves as well as plenty of hanging space and solid
drawers in the bottom, deep enough to sleep a toddler. It’s a piece of master craftsmanship and cost £150. Auctions are terrific for bedroom furniture: not just wardrobes but dressing tables, bedside cabinets and heavy wooden beds. If you’re lucky you’ll bag a whole suite of matching furniture for a couple of hundred pounds.
Desks: As with wardrobes, the auction room is the best place to find quality, sturdy desks that will beat those modern, sheet-glass affairs on both style and functionality. People did more writing back-in-the-day I suppose, or took it more seriously. You’ll find that older desks come with loads of in-built extras, from drawers to hold your pens, to flip-up compartments for storing correspondence. Expect to pay around £60 for a good quality desk in an auction room. I know, I can hardly believe it either: what are you waiting for?
Art: I snapped up this Warhol cow print about six years ago and it takes pride of place not only in my kitchen but my heart, goddam it. I don’t know why I love her so but I’d pass over a lot of other stuff to save her in a fire. Many auction houses host picture sales once a month, with prices varying from £30 (my cow print) right up to silly money.
What’s your best-ever home bargain? Do tell. The cow would want to know.