As recyling and being eco-aware become ever more fashionable, it has become quite the thing to furnish our houses with what used, rather sniffily, to be called “second-hand furniture”.
These days, it’s positively bragging to admit that you found that shabby-chic chair languishing in a neighbour’s skip, or that your wobbly stool used to belong to Granny.
However, for those of us who haven’t had the luck of finding a marble fireplace lying in the road (and I have met that woman) or a Chippendale chair waiting to become landfill, there’s an ever-proliferating number of vintage-furniture shops springing up around the country, most of which have websites. Of course there’s plenty of trash out there, but some of the shops sell treasures. Here’s to the new curiosity shops.
RE began eight years ago at the back of a petrol station in Corbridge, Northumberland and is now an online business too. The range of stock is too huge to categorise but as the owners, Simon Young and Jenny Vaughan themselves put it: “If you’re looking for a plaster statue of the Virgin Mary and some of the best bubble bath in the world, this is the place to come.”
While I admiRE their index which cleverly manages to introduce their name into every category, it can be tricky if you aRE looking for a specific product, but theRE is a search button too. In addition the recycled and re-used sections, they have also created their own range of products, sourced and made locally wherever possible.
This is my local vintage shop and perhap my most favourite and my best. This is because (canny this) the French owners have combined a large selection of vintage furniture and accessories with a selection of handbags (I know!!! Genius). Anyway, they recently opened a second shop in Islington, north London, which will be more convenient for many and everything is online anyway so you don’t need to leave the house to spend any money.
There are new deliveries from France every three weeks so there is always something new to look at from old French film posters to vintage Tolix and stylish crockery. And, if you have a particular object in mind that they don’t have, they will look out for it on their next trip.
THE PEANUT VENDOR
Barny and Becky love collecting and when their house started filling up they turned a hobby into a full time job: the Peanut Vendor is the result. A treasure trove of stuff with a mid-century modern slant, there’s plenty to look at here from vintage OXO mugs to furniture and lots of lighting. There’s a real live shop too – I know how quaint – but unless you’re close to Stoke Newington in North London, then online is probably your best bet.
I’m slightly manic about all those bits of paper/envelopes/homework/newpapers/recipes/takeaway menus that collect in every kitchen and this is my dream piece of furniture. In an ideal world, everyone would have a vertical column into which they would sort all their bits of tat and the work surfaces would be clean and clear.
Anyway, this old French postal pigeon hole unit is from the Pigeon Vendor and is just one of many similar treasures you will find from browsing round this site. The shop in in The Lanes, in Brighton, and the owners collect everything from lights and mirrors to old plane seats (yes really they currently have one) to Danish furniture and old school storage.
HOME BARN SHOP
There’s a such a dizzying array of stuff here that’s it hard to single out anyone thing. There are items for every room in the house, including the kids (vintage school desks) and the garden. There’s even an art section, which currently has a fabulous selection of butterflies (Damien Hirst eat your heart out). The barn is located in Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and if you fancy a day out then it’s well worth a proper old fashioned browse.
THE MODERN WAREHOUSE
If mid-century modern is your thang then this is the place for you. It’s genuine, it’s vintage and therefore, you will pay accordingly. But, like I said, if you want the real thing then here you are. Hans Wegner, Horst Bruning, Verner Panton and Poul Henningsen – it’s a roll call of the Danish icons with new items arriving every day.
THE OLD CINEMA
Dating from the 1890s, this old cinema has been refurbished to become a department store of vintage furniture. Just pick your style and off you go – Danish, American, English, French or industrial, shabby chic, Art Deco and upcycled. There’s plenty to choose from so just make sure you leave enough time because this is not a place you can rush in and out of.
I WANT VINTAGE
And talking of department stores, we couldn’t leave without including this site, which cleverly brings together scores of online boutiques into one handy place. The site is currently down for maintenance but I’ve seen it when it’s working and for that reason I’m including it here because it’s worth knowing about.