There are a few categories of furniture that it seems every self-respecting home decorator should have. Some chippy paint pieces. Something industrial. A Chesterfield. Maybe a persian rug somewhere. And a couple of outsized lamps. Then there’s the mid-century stuff. Get the lot and you may as well just phone up Homes and Antiques right away and have your house featured.
So after my most recent purchase, i reckon i am ticking most of those boxes. The teak sideboard seems to be one of the classic mid-century must-have items. If its Ercol so much the better. Well preserved sideboards are going for around £200 on ebay at the moment. But who needs ebay? I picked up this cute wee thing from a YMCA charity shop for a tenner.
It sits in our hallway, which is a dark place so we need lots of lamps to brighten things up. None of the things on top are actually useful for a hallway, but i wanted it to be more display and also in keeping with the ‘old stuff’ theme. An old typewriter, some random lamps, plants etc. I haven’t found a good place yet for the Nicholas Mosse pottery collection, it feels unsatisfactory to have them all hiding away down here, but as you can see from the previous post, display space is rather at a premium around here. The two chairs on either side proved to the bain of my dad’s recent stay here, when he crashed into them each night en-route to the toilet. But he doesn’t quite appreciate that form over function wins every time!
This old typewriter seems to turn up in every corner of the house!The top compartment opens up and provides an ideal place for putting letters you want to forget about for a few weeks.My original plan was to paint the cabinet, but Gemma put me out of the notion. What do you think?
Every once in a while i come across something in a charity shop that makes all the rifling through endless tat worth it. Such an occurrence happened last week when i came across this lamp in a YMCA charity shop i rarely frequent.
Anglepoise have been making lamps since the First World War and more recently have reproduced their original ’1227′ design lamp in celebration of British design. I was quite taken by said lamp whilst browsing in John Lewis and had even considered forking out the required £150 on one. A few trial twists and turns, up and downs, and you will soon realise why these are designer lamps. They don’t droop, squeak or labour; they are built with lots of little springs and levers in all the right places to make their movement seamless.
So, when i spotted what i immediately recognised as a classic Anglepoise desklamp for £5, i swooped upon it with a look of smug pride and duly delivered my note to the shop assistant. My conscience did consider giving a larger donation, given that i knew it was worth maybe £100, but then i rationalised this by concluding that i am propping up many a local charity shop with my compulsive purchasing and continuing to do so for the foreseeable future would suffice. As the lamp is plain old black, it does look a tad dull in my living room so i have established it as the workhorse lamp in my ‘project room’.
Speaking of John Lewis, it has been coming up trumps recently in relation to mid-century design. I came across this fabulous lamp there during the summer. Its a Christian Dell reproduction and whilst i tend not to buy many new ‘detail’ decorative pieces for the house (lamps, pictures, materials etc) i couldn’t pass this one up. Original Christian Dell lights can go for around £500 now in particular some of the original Bauhaus designs. But this little nod to the original will do me just fine and has been illuminating happily on my stripped pine and gloriously south-facing ”writing desk” .
Lighting has certainly been a major focus of setting up home in our new place. I have been madly installing spotlights in every corner and have arranged for our first ‘proper’ workman to come and fit some new fixed lighting and update some of the old existing fixtures. The most exciting of these upcoming projects will be the installation of these industrial pendant lights above the dining table in the living room. A couple of years back I posted about a little shop in the Borders called ‘The Glory Hole’. It probably hasn’t been open since that post and so i was keen to pop in when i spied it in operation again last month. The place was so loaded with stuff i couldn’t actually pass the threshold but i did spy these lights and subsequently entered into an illuminating (ha ha) discussion with the proprietor about their origin. Apparently they came from the dismantling of an old psychiatric asylum somewhere in Ayrshire. At this point, i was sold, but at a fiver each, it was hardly a difficult economic decision!
My latest project was one of the first things i bought for this house. It was a few weeks before we moved and i promised Malcolm i would find a whiskey cabinet that appealed to us both. We were headed out to North Berwick beach and we stopped off at Sam Burns place in Prestonpans. I frequent it less now than i used to as it seems to have been ‘discovered’ by a wider group and more often now i come home empty-handed, which rarely happened in the good old days. But on this merry occasion, i happened upon this delightful vintage glass cabinet. We searched around for an old bottle to make sure it would accommodate said item. This is more than i would usually do but my pal Ali brought some essential pragmatism, as is often the case. We established that bottles fitted neatly on the top shelf.
Having no measurements for the new place, i took a chance on the cabinet in terms of the overall dimensions. I was certain it would fit beautifully to the left of the fireplace. I was eating my proverbial words when we discovered shortly after moving in that it was wide by about 6 inches. Alas it was merely an issue of height in that if 4 inches shorter, it would fit if tucked gracefully underneath the mantle. So it was that on day 4 when my bro came to stay for a night he found himself issued with a hacksaw and a tape measure, tasked with cutting the ornate claw feet off (the word ‘butchering’ was used but i chose to ignore such blatant overstatement).
Once slotted into place, it was immediately evident that the cabinet needed a little lift, something to help it stand out from the crowd (of other vintage friends in the room). And there’s nothing like a bit of moody lighting to raise the tone, add some class…..
A few Ikea spotlights later and the cabinet really does shine now. Here you can see my clumsy wiring lurking in the background (just like the Lord Calvert, but that’s another story), waiting to be tidied up. Plus evidence of further power-tool action. Poor little cabinet! So, anyone for a wee dram?
Every thursday there’s a secret place one can go in Edinburgh to buy wonderful things. This place is not well publicised and for good reason. I once wrote about it here on the blog and was berated for ‘spreading the word’ with abandon. Suffice it to say that you need cash, time, and a good strong pair of elbows.
The following finds are the best of the bunch, and the stories behind them.
I’m always on the look-out for vintage Tala. They have re-released some of their classic baking products, but its the originals that really are the icing on the cake (he he). So when i saw this quite unusual cake tin, i was not going to let it slip through my fingers. It came to me for £10.
The real beauty is in the restoration job i achieved on it. Here is an instagram of it before i attacked it with bleach (no surprises there). Looks like someone was using it as a tool box (the cheek!). I had to sacrifice the lettering a bit to get the grime off, and then paint them on again afterwards. But it was worth it to bring up that beautiful duck-egg blue colour.
I’ve written about clocks before in this series, but am not intentionally building a collection. However that does appear to be the case… I bid (small clue as to whereabouts) on a box of rubbish and won it for £1. Within it were these fabulous clocks. The first one i absolutely love – looks to be around 1950s in origin, and ties in nicely with my current birdie phase.
These little retro travel clocks were lurking in the bottom of my box of surprises. Aren’t they funky?!
Let’s be open, I get a little thrill out of the communal love of blog! Who can deny the little flutter that comes with a comment, or a pingback or a ‘pin’ interest..
I’ll have to admit, I seem to be more into reading blogs, blog crawling or creeping as I think its known, than posting at the moment. Its why the Salvage Sisters are a great duo, right sis! What with the Sis upping her photos another notch, the inadequacy is ever greater to be a contributor to the beautiful world of blog.
I just wanted to rave about a few blogs I’ve been creeping lately, with a focus on good old Northern Ireland for today.. and give them more a peck on the cheek, than a snog! Phew.
First up the really and truly ‘Absolutely Glorious’ by Jenny, a fellow East Belfaster, and dreamy, inspiring and i’d say romantic blogger of life. She makes the everyday into something Sugared, Spiced and irresistable. Pop over to see her world of kitsch memorabilia, perfectly placed blooms, and charming muses on life. If you’re left longing for one of her irresistable looking bakes, check out her business Silver Spoon Society.
Next we have the artiste and mad hatter Aly over at Aly McLoughlin Harte. Here you’ll pick up a a dollop of positivity and a dash of the joy in every day in her fabuously honest, and hugely creative musings on the day to day of family life..
Lately, I was given a word up on Mel Wiggins, and all the more keen to read on, when I saw she hails from the Craigavon direction, near where I grew up! Assuming you’re a blog boff if you’re here, you’ll know that comeradery, and joy that comes from having something in common with someone you dont even know and have never met! What is that. Im still not sure. But I’ve been enjoying her adept skill at actually doing the things I intend to, like home made cosmetics and cleaning your house with vinegar, Acting up against Human Trafficking, and i loooove it – ‘Crafternoon Teas‘ for the fellow craft amateur/enthusiasts to unite in a joined purpose to create.
Now for those more reflective moments, when all your inventing, crafting, and thrifting is done I’d say Tell it in Colour, will lift your spirits and poke your positivity, and Steve Stockman’s Soul Surmisewill stir you up, especially if you like to go deeper in the everyday.. his analytical view of life and love through song lyrics is an alka seltzer for the soul..
Things have been a bit barren on the creative front this month, perhaps owing to the december rush for making christmas presents (of which i forgot to take any pictures this year). So my series on collections will continue for now, this time moving gracefully away from tea and its associates, to bread bins. This is a kind of ‘sub-section’ of my wider enamelware collection, more of which to follow. However the bread bin is a good place to start as i think it represents the quintessential enamel piece, the cornerstone item of any self-respecting vintage aficionado. Of course, given their generous size and effortless style, they make great containers for all sorts of things aside from the lowly loaf….
This was my first enamel purchase, back in the early collecting days of 2004. It was from a great vintage shop on Gilmore place which seemed to vanish not long after gemma and i discovered it. Napkins hide in here.
This one is from my old faithful salvage yard near Musselburgh, but came minus the lid. One day i’ll hopefully find a replacement. We store extra cereal in here…..wait a second! is that coco pops i see??! must be from Ivan’s visit last week.
This is a true salvage find – a bread bin belonging to my granny, plucked from the ashes of her abandoned kitchen before my brother could cart it off to the scrap yard. When i first opened it, i found a perfectly formed little mouse skeleton, so i’m guessing she hadn’t been using it for while. What better place to store surplus tea cups?
This one i inadvertently purchased at an auction for £5, i had no idea the auctioneer had tipped me for the bid (i wasn’t bidding) but i ended up with it somehow. Being also of a lid-less affliction, this one comes to life in summer at the front door, housing some lovely calendula to greet our visitors.
This is probably my favourite one, though not strictly speaking of the vintage era. I have a red theme in the kitchen department, hence this is the one we use for actual bread (or, as it seems at present, crisp) storage. But the main reason i love it is because it came straight from a skip, covered with a thick layer of grease and in need of some love. It washed up beautifully! Who on earth would throw such a lovely thing away!?
I have been considering a new desk for a while, or rather another one given that until now malcolm and i have always shared one. Our first desk we found abandoned on Dalkeith road, a traditional oak school desk which was one of my first restoration projects, sanded completely by hand.
I fancied a wee corner in our bedroom for computer moments or journalling. My friends at Retropolis came good once again with this lovely painted victorian pine leaf table. One leaf is missing which is in a way ideal as we don’t have a lot of floor space, so the single leaf option means it can function as an occasional desk which is tucked away when not needed. In true lucy fashion, of course i couldn’t come away without some additional purchasing. More on that later…
I started with a test spot to see what condition the wood was in underneath. (i’m sure test areas are supposed to be concealed but in my creative haste i only think of these kind of things afterwards). My plan was to do the top only, as i find stripping turned legs too difficult, plus i was quite taken by the retro red/pink paint.
I then did 3 rounds of Nitromors on the top, taking off the red paint and 2 layers of sticky varnish.Time for the fun bit! Sanding down to the bare wood. This doesn’t take too long – maybe an hour. But essential to have an electric sander – i’ve tried the traditional method (by hand) but it takes days.The next stage involves one of my favourite household friends – a bit of good old bleach. The table looked like it hadn’t seen a cloth since the original paintwork was done, and needed some decent elbow grease to get the grime off. Most things in the house undergo an initiation rite of being bleached to within an inch of their life, so the latest recruit was no exception. The wood looks pretty ravished by this stage and definitely is in need of some love – enter beeswax and linseed balsam. The wood retains an unfinished look but takes on a healthy glow with this stuff, plus you get to enjoy the aromas whilst typing up your subsequent blog post.And here is the finished product in situ, happily relishing its new home by the window. (Sneak peek at my wonderful crochet blanket collection in the right hand corner – clearly a desk is no place to store blankets but they complement each other too well for me to care about the practicalities.)And you can see also in the picture a beautiful Ercol-style vintage chair, purchased as a set of 4 from the same place as the table. Makes the perfect friend for my pretty desk….
This weekend I took a delightful little tour around some spots I’ve recently found or heard about with my friend Cassie of Olive Owl Art. If it’s a rainy Saturday afternoon- antiquing-snoop around in NI you’re after, this is your guide!
First up, a real treat, recently popped up in Belfast City centre – Drummond Reid, just off of the Ormeau Road on Sunnyside St. They have moved in from Saintfield in the last number of months, and I’m glad they did! You’ll find a really broad range of items from classic to shabby chic to funky retro if one may describe ‘antiques’ as such! They have caught the vision for the current rage on mid century furnishings and have some fab examples..
The owner was full of facts about his stock, and happy to share them. Nice to meet you!
Next we popped in to ‘Smithfield Market’ out the back of Castlecourt. I wouldn’t plan a trip downtown just for this, but if you are in the area, nip in and take it in, it’s a bizarre few aisles of shops/units. The antique shop is possibly too much for even Mary Queen of Shops to organise, but is worth a dig. However, everything I wanted the owner seemed to want too, and there isn’t much room to browse, think this one is for collectors who really know what they’re after!
We picked up a flyer that day for a Collectibles and antique fair on the Lisburn road, which it appears is on every second Saturday here. So we mooched on over. It was a few tables in a hall affair, and well worth the look. Its amazing how many collectors/dealers there are out there, and in this kind of setting the prices are still reasonable.
I got this great, and very official ‘Miller’s’ guide for £2 so I can at least own pictures of 50′s items, if I cant fit them in my home!
Here’s a good link to a guide to some other places if you’ve still got the energy!
And I’m excited to find MKVintageUSA who I mentioned in my last post will be at this fair in Newtownards this weekend.. maybe see you there!
Someone who knows*, tells me Ballinderry Antiques is worth a look too, want to come?
*This person shall remain nameless as he’s meant to be on Ivan’s side!
I happened upon this beautiful coffee pot last year in a charity shop in the Borders, at the handsome sum of £1. Obviously it has mid-century written all over it. I recently discovered it is actually part of the highly collectable Catherineholm range of enamelware, produced in Norway mainly in the 50′s and 60′s. I love the chance occurrence of buying something special second-hand, which doesn’t happen very often these days with charity shops getting canny about their vintage goods. It looks like i’ll be a while building up any kind of collection as there isn’t much of it in the UK.
So that got me to thinking about the need to be well informed beforehand so that the thrill of stumbling across a collectors item in a charity shop becomes more likely. I then saw this book in Oxfam and quickly swiped it up and have been studying it ever since. Its a highly selected and detailed group of 20th century objets d’art, with some notable omissions (Cornish Blue being close to my heart), but it gives an overview and approximate price for each item, within a broad rane of categories. High end bargain hunting here i come!!
The Salvage sisters have had the delight of a few days on the same side of the shuck with Lucy being in Northern Ireland for a few days.
After the trauma of actually having to clear some things out that we couldnt possibly salvage or find room for, at the car boot, we undertook a little intentional rambling around NI to unearth some new treasure hot spots I’d heard about on the vintage circuit.
I have never had a reason to go to Greyabbey before, but that is where the lovely Keri Johnston has opened the most beautiful space to retail her very attuned collection of vintage, retro and kitsch memorabilia. After a gorgeous drive about 20 mins out of Belfast hugging the coastline, we were excited to find this little town has a plethora of antique shops and the like. With the warmest welcome, we pottered through the three room space on two levels, laid out to eye watering, heart quickening, I want-all-of-it perfection.
Keri’s enthusiasm and warmth is exuded throughout her shop to inspire you even more than the fabulous lay out. Get on down there if you get the chance.
Watch this space for our next treasure ramble..