A guide to buying vintage furniture

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Vintage and second-hand furniture: Where to start?

There is space to fill a room with a knockout piece of vintage or antique furniture. But where does one begin?
Spending an afternoon traipsing local second hand stores, antique fairs or flea markets for a stand out piece of vintage furniture is probably best, especially in a town or city that boasts ample vintage furniture stores like London, for example or Brighton, Lewes, Oxford…. The list goes on. And the obvious choice is to scroll online marketplaces too. We are spoilt for choice in the UK and local furniture design is amongst the most popular across the globe. Cheers to that!

A past project by Issy, upcycled papered sideboard/ TV stand

We love to source wooden furniture items of varying style, charm and character. Whether your style is mid-century or art deco, the main aspects to look out for when buying second hand or vintage furniture are the item’s structure, quality, genuinity and craftmanship. This sets up a good potential to upcycle it and give it a second life.

Add value to your furniture

If you find a dream piece of vintage furniture but don’t have the time to strip, restore, treat the wood and upcycle it, this is where we come in.

Here is a fine example of how we can add value to your furniture to keep or resell

We were drawn to this fairly plain wooden triangular chest of drawer set because of the geometric elements. The potential was noticeable from the start. We were lucky enough to get our hands on the drawers at £300 for the set from a second hand furniture store. Once we upcycled and re-styled this chest of drawers using the Ancient Japanese burning technique of Yakisugi, also known as Shou Sugi Ban and added natural agate gemstone handles, we increased it’s value by around 1k. The upcycled drawers are now in their new home in London.

Before & after: Luxury upcycled Yakisugi chest of drawers with agate handles
Natural Agate gemstone handles are sourced from a local artist – making it a unique, one of a kind statement piece

Tips for buying second-hand furniture from our upcycling partners

“It has to be solid wood dovetail joints if possible. A good shape, maybe a bit unusual but if I love the style/shape, I will get it.”
“No chipboard. These wouldn’t last long. Damage is a no-no for me. Online marketplaces and second hand shops are a great place to source furniture. There’s always a bargain to be found.”

Sadie, Furniture Painter/ Paperer/ Upcycler.

“I look for good quality sturdy wooden items that will still be on trend once upcycled. Items that may need slight structural alteration or small repairs/filling are all fine. With upholstery, it is difficult to tell until you strip a chair but generally I have sourced good quality Wingback chairs and re-foamed where required.” 
“My ideal places to source furniture are charity shops as I have time to browse the items. I also get a sense of satisfaction that the money goes to help a charity.”

Paula, Re-Upholsterer and Furniture Upcycler/ Repairer/ Painter

“I look for unique furniture mostly to create something very individual. But I also do like getting quite generic furniture as these are the pieces thrown away most commonly and I enjoy the challenge of making a dull boring piece new and exciting.”
I typically avoid anything that isn’t made of solid wood as cheap furniture is really hard to revamp and usually can’t last a second life.”

Archie, Woodworker/ Upcycler

Customise your vintage furniture

Consider yourself a budding interior designer? If you have found the perfect piece of vintage furniture and would love to re-style it without the DIY, simply tell us what you have in mind colour and style-wise and together we will help you create the vintage furniture design of your dreams. The best part? You won’t need to lift a finger! Click here to upload your old furniture pics.