Recycled and reloved
Vintage, antique, retro, up-cycled, collectable: it seems we just can’t get enough of pre-loved items. The Northern Rivers has especially embraced all things old, with a trail of vintage outlets stretching from Casino to Tweed Heads and markets and garage sales everywhere in between.
So what exactly is the lure of the pre-loved? For many, it’s the warmth and character of the piece while; for others, it’s the quality of workmanship, compared to mass produced pieces.
So how do you collect, and is it worth it financially? There’s no short answer to this as any Antiques Roadshow afficionado will tell you. But there are some basic categories and truths that apply to most things that are collected.
Firstly, authenticity is paramount. To gauge the value of an object, you could consult an expert or a guidebook, such as Carters Price Guide, that is now available online. It is also helpful if you can prove provenance – essentially the story of the object.
There’s also a good reason why grandma only brought out her treasures for “best” occasions. When it comes to anything in a set, it only takes one missing or broken piece, to automatically reduce the value of the entire set by approximately half.
Collecting, repurposing and upselling
Two collectors who have made their passion for vintage timber furniture their business are Helene and Johnny Thompson. Collecting vintage pieces for decades, Helene and Johnny’s love of rustic, Australian timber pieces has resulted in their Eureka-based venture, Dirty Old Town.
The business and showroom is set within an iconic Australian shack, off a dirt road and alongside a pretty creek. The cottage showcases their beautifully repurposed and handmade timber furniture, artworks and decor pieces.
According to Helene Thompson, sourcing and salvaging local timber pieces is a labour of love for her and her partner, Johnny, “but the results are worth the effort,” Helene explains. “Old timbers hold so much character and depth, they've lived one life, and then Johnny hand crafts the timber to give it another life.”
Most timbers Johnny crafts his pieces from are locally sourced hardwood, and he can tell you the history of almost each piece in the showroom. “It's important to acknowledge the history of the timber to help demonstrate the longevity and strength of wood,” he says.
According to Helene, much of the timber sourced is used to create bespoke pieces, handmade by Johnny for local clients and those who come from as far away as Sydney. “Dining tables and day beds are popular, plus we also create one-off pieces of wall art as well as smaller pieces such as stools and cutting boards. We ensure that none of the beautiful timber is wasted.”
Where possible, Johnny and Helene like to involve the client in the process, such as what sort of timber, design, colour would they like and how will the piece be used? According to Helene it’s great to involve clients in the process as it gives them a real sense of ownership and personalises the furniture into something more personal.
Dirty Old Town is located at 148 Whian Rd, Eureka, or call Helene Thompson on 6688 4708, or visit www.dirtyoldtownfurniture.com.
STYLISH LOOK: Classic Australian shack and showroom at Dirty Old Town, Eureka.