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.
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.
(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.
In fact, I even have some tips for kitting out homes with budget retro options:
- 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
- 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...)
- 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
- 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)
- And if you're shopping on eBay because you have a budget, sort by price to avoid temptation!
- 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...
- ...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
- 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
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