Lisa Daw­son

It’s taken me some years of trial and er­ror to work out my pre­ferred dec­o­rat­ing style.

Real Homes - - Front Page - FOL­LOW LISA @_lisa_­daw­son_

‘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.

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