It is no secret that I am a massive fan of vintage shopping. I can’t imagine there are many people who know me and haven’t found themselves following me around a secondhand store, auction or car boot on the hunt for hidden treasures.
One of the many things that I love about Suffolk are the numerous options when hunting for antique and vintage finds. It was something that I looked for high and low whilst living in Asia where the idea of buying something secondhand is nowhere near as popular as it is in the UK, although I did find a few great spots, Junkie’s Corner in Singapore is an absolute must and where a fair amount of my furniture comes from.
There are a number of reasons I love to shop for secondhand pieces. The excitement of not knowing what you might come across when you set out is one thing, then they joy of finding a perfect little one off piece that you just can’t be without. It's the individuality of vintage furniture and homewares that make them truly special, the patina and the character is unmatched and can make a fairly run of the mill object into a real treasure. I also love the element of chance, that little sprinkling of good luck that makes it feel like it was meant for you!
Of course buying secondhand pieces is also a gazillion times better for the environment than buying new. There goes my sustainable interior design bell again!
When shopping I tend to find myself naturally drawn to a certain palette, textures or material, honing in on items such as worn wood full of character, old golds, mossy greens and black & white patterns. I will mostly follow my heart and think later about where exactly a piece might fit in, I have been known to rearrange entire rooms around an amazing new find.
But if you want to be a little more sensible, or you have specific pieces that you are looking for then it is well worth being aware of the measurements of a space and carrying a tape measure with you when on the hunt. It is also helpful to have pictures to hand on your phone to check how a piece will look in your intended area.
Whilst furniture is such a fantastic way to create a unique home, often at a very reasonable price, building a collection is also a fun way to introduce vintage homewares. Most things really do look better en mass and make a great statement when displayed. I have recently been seeing a lot of vintage orange flasks and I think they would make a great collection.
Locally in Suffolk I am a big fan of the Clarke & Simpson Monday Auction, its an absolute hodge podge of items but I have found plenty of goodies at bargain prices that just need a little TLC to bring them back to life. The auction goes online early evening on a Friday and it has become a bit of an end of the week ritual for me, pouring myself a glass of wine and perusing the sale, followed by a visit the next morning if there is something I have my eye on.
If you can, it is always worth going to visit. The photography online, particularly for items at the lower end of the market, can be limited and a treasure could pass you by. Or of course you could end up with something that isn’t quite what you expected it to be! However if you don't have anything locally then there are so many options online at the-saleroom or eBay.
In terms of secondhand shops for vintage furniture and homeware in Suffolk the list is endless, I love The Barn at Friday Street and have found some great items there, including a beautiful inlay overmantel mirror and lots of lovely glasses.
Yoxford Antiques Centre has a great mix of homeware and furniture including some lovely mid-century pieces, I have seen a number of Ercol chairs in great condition and they have interesting pieces for the garden too. The Vintage Emporium at Thorpeness is also good for a visit (when is a trip to Thorpeness ever a bad idea?) with a great selection of very well priced crockery, vases and kitchenalia.
Keep your eye out for the Deben Market Events which pop up around Suffolk and are certainly worth a visit. The individual sellers there have some fantastic things and you can then follow them on Instagram to keep an eye on anything new.
Whilst Suffolk is an actual treasure trove of fabulous finds, having a search for things on your travels is an absolute must for me. Not only is it a fantastic way to see a little colour when you travel, but those one off pieces that you find will always hold the memories of a visit.
There aren’t many countries that I have been to and not found myself hunting out a local secondhand market to while away a few hours. Highlights for me include Tokyo’s flea markets and the wonderful brocantes in Paris.
Australia's Op Shops are also worth a mention. I once found myself in one on Melbourne's Chapel Street selling the entire contents of what must have been one truly fabulous women's home and wardrobe!
My top tips for secondhand & vintage pieces to look out for are:
Pottery, beautiful plates, vases & dishes. This is without a doubt the easiest way to introduce a little vintage colour in to your home. Follow your heart!
Chairs, ohh so many lovely chairs. A simple way to add a piece of furniture with character.
Mirrors. As far as I am concerned you can never have enough mirrors!
Or enough side tables...
Sideboards / cabinets. If you have the space this is such a fantastic way to add a real hero piece into your home.
Fireplaces / mantels. I found a lovely mantelpiece in a skip many years ago, but there are tons online at auction and reclamation yards. I have just seen a rather fabulous pink speckled Art Deco fireplace insert that I have my eye on. But I will have to keep that one a secret so that nobody beats me to it!
I am also a sucker for a vintage fashion rail but the depths of my wardrobe are best left for another blog entirely.
If you have any top spots you would love to share, or you would like to get in touch about bringing some vintage flair to you home then I would love to hear from you.