It’s taken me some years of trial and error to work out my preferred decorating style.
‘On my birthday, my friend Karen and I trawl the charity shops of York, to return with several bags’
When I first met my husband, we both had hectic jobs, commuting to London daily from Reading. The concept of buying a renovation-project home couldn’t have been further from our minds. Our free time was spent recovering from four hours of solid traffic, drinking copious amounts of white wine and eating far too many crisps and takeaway food. Our first house was a magnolia-adorned, box-shaped Barratt starter home, furnished entirely from the local pine warehouse. Investment made, I upcycled, painted and repurposed these hardworking items for 18 (yes, 18) years until I convinced Joe they’d finally done their time, and listed them on Ebay quicker than you could say ‘rookie error’.
Around 12 years ago, I discovered the joy of vintage. My first buy was a midcentury, high teak sideboard on legs, complete with drinks cabinet and sliding glass doors – a £20 bargain (in my opinion). After sending a disgruntled Joe and his brother halfway across London to collect it, I installed it in the living room and was smitten. I was, and still am, obsessed with sideboards. Could there ever be a more practical item? Crockery storage, cutlery drawers, display shelving and drinks cupboard. It was everything I needed in one piece of furniture – and it looked fabulous alongside my modern table and chairs. The juxtaposition of old and new was, for me, perfection.
From that point on, I was vintage hooked. Charity shops are a treasure trove of inspiration when it comes to styling my home. Every year on my birthday, my friend Karen and I embark on a day long mission. Champagne breakfast and spa day? Not for us.
After coffee and cake at our local café, we trawl the charity shops and furniture stores of York, stopping only for a quick sandwich and an essential iced bun. We’re currently on year four of this tradition, never failing to return with several bags of new additions, much to Joe’s dismay. I can’t understand why he doesn’t appreciate a kitsch print of a wide-eyed child in their pyjamas fishing in a stream, or a 1950s plastic wall-mounted flying dolphin.
I know my vintage addiction is a little extreme. But there are plenty of ways to incorporate it into your home to give it a touch of individuality and blend beautifully with what you’ve already got. And there’s nothing more satisfying than making an impact in your space without spending a fortune. Be brave – scour Ebay and Gumtree for mid-century pieces. Mixing a retro dining table with modern chairs can add serious character. Put a contemporary print above a vintage sideboard for juxtaposition heaven. Charity shops are a hotbed of art choices for a gallery wall – oil paintings, glorious gold frames, blowsy florals and old photos to team with neon slogans, modern typography prints or even homemade art. Having a dinner party? Non-matching glassware and crockery are excellent thrift buys, and make for an interesting display when mixed with smart new tableware.
Finding your own style can be a hard slog. We’re heavily influenced as to what we should like, where we should shop and how we should style it. Your home should reflect your personality, and mixing original vintage finds with new pieces is a great starting point.
So, pop down to your local charity shop and get thrifting. Just make sure you don’t forget to stop for an iced bun.