Home: my budget retro tv stand (and putting vintage touches on rental properties)

Time for something a bit different from me… I’ve long been pondering if I should show you my house, because there’s a lot about it that isn’t how I want it to be. Not only is it a constant work in progress, I’m in rental accommodation so I can’t paint the walls, I’m generally living with the inability to add permanent things like cupboards for shoes (they’re everywhere!!) or mirrors in places I want them (which isn’t horizontal at waist height, but thanks anyway, Landlord), and there’s rather permanent things that I wouldn’t choose to have in my own home (electric fireplace from the 80s in the dining room, anyone?). I’ve also known for several months that I should be able to buy a house with B hopefully in the New Year, so it’s all going to change and be more what I want soon anyway… But let’s face it, that’s still a long way away, so meanwhile I thought I’d share some of the ways I’ve been trying to put a ‘vintage’ touch on my home just through furnishings, homeware and working with what I’ve got.
Part of what I’ve never got is a big budget, as all the money goes on the shoes that are strewn all over my floor (or so B would claim anyway). What I do have is an ability to find second-hand furniture that could pass for mid-century style, like this cute little table.
Mid century modern style teak tv table
Of course, it was probably never intended to be a tv table. I’ve got no idea when exactly it was from either, but I’m going to guess it’s probably mid-late 70s…? It was probably meant to be a coffee table for a small room, but that magazine shelf makes a wonderful platform for modern technology.  And er, yes, we do have a bit of a wire and Wii-on-the-floor (heh) situation going on underneath that I haven’t quite figured out how to make look nice yet, but let’s ignore that and focus on the fact that it’s the ideal width for this alcove in my living room and my TV.

Mid century modern style teak tv table

(And yes, those are some of the lucky shoes that aren’t on the floor. I call them ‘the chosen ones’. Er, I don’t really, but I should as that’s how fortunate they are to be tidied away on a shelf.)
There’s three things I love about this table 1) it’s as sturdy as anything 2) it’s that kind of teak colour you see a lot of mid-century furniture in and 3) the tapered legs make me think mid-century too. It was also an eBay purchase that I picked up for a mere £30 – making it an absolute bargain.

While I know it’s not mid-century perfect, one of the things I think you have to do when you’re renting properties is buy furniture that’s good enough for as little as possible, because what if it doesn’t fit in your forever home – quite literally, what if it’s all the wrong size? There’s not much you can do about that! Hence I’ve become a whiz at scouring charity shops and eBay to find exactly – or close to – what I want. If you put the time in, it’s out there, just waiting for you to nestle in an alcove…

Mid century modern style teak tv table

In fact, I even have some tips for kitting out homes with budget retro options:
  1. Visit charity shops as often as you can – armed with all width, height and depth measurements for furniture you’re looking to find saved on your phone and a tape measure if you’ve got one (although most furniture shops will probably have one you can borrow). There’s nothing worse than getting it wrong, or missing out on something that’s perfect. I’ve found even large charity furniture stores turn over almost their entire stock weekly, so you can’t really pop in too often to catch a bargain, nor wait too long if you find something you like
  2. If you’re not prepared to drastically alter something that’s probably temporary, know in advance if certain wood finishes, colours etc won’t fit with your existing furniture or fittings – it’s not a bargain if it doesn’t fit in how you want it to and you’re not able or prepared to change it (and if you won’t, don’t kid yourself you’ll get round to it like me with shortening the legs on trousers…)
  3. Set yourself a budget for each piece you’re trying to buy and base it around how likely you are to take it to your next house; I knew I couldn’t spend much on a sideboard as it’s so large, chances are there may not be a space for it in my next house. Sort of cost per use for furniture
  4. eBay is great, but you can waste hours of your life trying to find what you want there and get suckered by people selling over the odds for vintage pieces – my advice is find the keywords of the crucial things you definitely want e.g. ‘table’ ‘teak’ ‘shelf’ and leave out period flags e.g. ‘mid century’ ’50s’ or you’ll miss out on the cheaper pieces that are from the era but the seller didn’t realise, or they aren’t from the era but fit the criteria pretty well, or they could be easily upcycled by sticking some different legs on or a coat of varnish (but, again, only if you’re prepared to actually do that! My limit pretty much stops at a layer of varnish)
  5. And if you’re shopping on eBay because you have a budget, sort by price to avoid temptation!
  6. Compromise – something I find very hard to do as I’m such a darn perfectionist, but as in the case of aforementioned sideboard, I was ready to drop x5 what I eventually paid to get something perfect… And in fact I really like what we ended up with as its the perfect size and…
  7. …Furniture can be dressed up with cheaper ornaments that are period authentic. It really makes a difference to see my starburst clock sitting right above my tv table. And maybe someday I really will get round to changing the legs and handles on my sideboard (yeah right), but until then it looks quite alright with a little retro radio on top
  8. Retro homeware can be picked up everywhere these days for cheap. Of course there’s eBay and charity shops (although I never have much luck in the ones near me), but in the UK, I recommend checking out Dunelm Mill and of course Ikea can be relied on for unusual things, not to mention they occasionally reissue things from their archives for great prices (a piece of which you will see when I get round to showing you the rest of my living room). Also, if you are in the UK follow Retro to Go as they’re always sharing cute house buys (among other things) in places you wouldn’t think to look

This all feels like obvious advice when I say it like that, and no one who’s already in the furniture thrifting game is going to have their lives changed by this, but it’s how I do it anyway!



    • August 31, 2015 / 1:10 pm

      I hope so – I always feel like I'm not qualified to advise on anything as I make it up as I go along most the time… so I'm glad if it's not all as 'duh' as I think!! x

  1. August 30, 2015 / 1:19 pm

    I'm moving into uni accommodation in a few weeks but I still want a homely vintage feel so I'm buying lots of accessories and sewing blankets! A very useful post x

    • August 31, 2015 / 1:11 pm

      As Porcelina says below, do check out Gumtree and Freecycle as well, for sure! Although I have to say the best way to be able to get decent cheap furniture is often if you're able to drive or hire a van to collect it, so bear that in mind. I probably should have added that above! x

  2. August 30, 2015 / 10:28 pm

    Very sage advice dear CiCi!! I would add to look on Gumtree, Freecycle, and in community recycling centres. Also by pure word of mouth, you'll end up with stuff being offered to you – we got our £1000+ worth of locally made leather sofa and chairs via a friend of a friend who was throwing them out for a new suite. We just had to hire a van (£60) to retrieve them. I love that table, indeed looks '70s to me but with that midcentury feel. You'd pay a fortune for it in some trendy store! xx

    • August 31, 2015 / 1:09 pm

      I can't believe I forgot Gumtree, considering I've gotten decent furniture from there too for mere £s! I haven't had much luck with it recently, I think it's become too popular round here! I've never found anything on Freecycle either, but you're right it's worth checking. And totally agree on word of mouth – it's also, funnily enough, how I got my rather decent sofas for about £250 from someone at work who was moving in with her boyfriend years ago 🙂 Agree you'd probably pay a fortune for my little table, which is in really top notch condition, in an antique type store! xx

  3. September 1, 2015 / 3:57 am

    Stellar advice and really lovely vintage touches. My home isn't ideal either for a lot of reasons and I haven't really shared it online much either (just wee views here and there), but I must say, I've done some things this summer that have made me a bit happier with how it looks – now, if I could just add 2,000 square feet onto it some how, that would be amazing!!! 😀

    Joyful start of September wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

    • September 2, 2015 / 5:49 am

      Know the feeling on the adding space part! I'd love to see what you've done – hope you share sometime 🙂 x

  4. September 1, 2015 / 7:38 pm

    It's great to find inexpensive pieces that suit your aesthetic but doesn't have the high price of an original. Although it does take much more time to find the right pieces, it's worth the effort for sure! Fab advice!

    • September 2, 2015 / 5:50 am

      I guess it's like those 80s does 40s dresses!

  5. September 1, 2015 / 9:20 pm

    I love that you're using a retro table for a TV and video game consoles haha. Awesome. I always debate back and forth about whether I should showcase aspects of my living space too. Great list!!! XO
    -Lauren Blair

    • September 2, 2015 / 5:51 am

      Well, why not 😉 I think more of us fashion bloggers should do home stuff – I'm of that nesting age where I find it all fascinating! x

  6. September 2, 2015 / 2:26 pm

    First- love the table!!
    Second- as someone who buys furniture on a regular basis to change,paint etc.(although I've been banned for now.Let's just say you thought your shoes were bad try having extra furniture.lol) your advice was right on the money.

    • September 3, 2015 / 5:57 am

      Ha, I don't know where I'd put excess furniture – I don't even have a garage!!

  7. October 14, 2017 / 11:57 am

    The most outstanding component about this blog is the means by which it doesn't neglect to keep its gathering of people connected with at each point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *