I always say that the tighter your budget, the more creative you have to get when it comes to decorating your home. And this is probably why I adore searching through eBay, charity/thrift shops and second-hand sites to find the things that fill my home.

vignette with thrifted glasses - see more on www.swoonworthy.co.uk

thrifted glasses and vintage glass sugar bowl

Over the years, I’ve become fairly adept at searching out a bargain and I really feel it’s these unusual items that give a room a look that makes it different from any others out there. Sure, it’s easy to buy everything new (if expensive) but firstly, when you curate a collection from different places as well as eras, it’s so much more satisfying and will result in something much more intrinsically you and secondly, you’ll end up with a look that’s simply different from every other home you see out on blogs or on Pinterest.

living room with vintage hoop chairs and fiddle leaf fig - see more at www.swoonworthy.co.uk

vintage hoop chairs and vintage brass side table

I wanted to first tell you about Brynne’s new series. You may recall I did a post in January called ‘The A-Z of Design Tips’ where for each letter of the alphabet, I came up with a little decorating trick you can try. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by my blogger friend Brynne of The Gathered Home who wanted to take that idea and apply it to thrifting –  I loved the idea, especially as she’s a master at finding amazing second-hand goods to fill her home. So far, she’s played it out to an amazingly insightful and thorough series, starting with A for Art and B for Brass. Go and check that out because it’s simply brilliant as she uses both her own home as well as a whole bunch of amazing fellow bloggers’ homes (including my own) to make her points.

coffee table vignette with vintage brass turtle - see more at www.swoonworthy.co.uk

vintage brass turtle

So as I was going through my own images to contribute to her series, I was thinking about all the items in my home that I have bought second-hand and actually surprised myself at the amount of things I have that weren’t purchased new but after searching through eBay or hitting up the charity shops in my area so I thought I’d do a little roundup of my Top 5 Favourites today.

First up, the Chinese Chippendale Chairs in my dining room.

White chippendale chairs dining room - see more at www.swoonworthy.co.uk

At the moment, they are at the upholsterer’s getting new seats fitted and this room has been torn to bits for a makeover but they are probably one of my most prized possessions. While you could buy them new (Jonathan Adler sells them for £795 EACH), I collected my current set over the course of 2 years. Sure, it’s a little long to wait and yes, they needed some love but at £95 for all 4 side chairs and £80 for both of the end chairs, I literally saved THOUSANDS buying them second-hand. Yes, they are difficult to find but if you go into it realising that this is not an immediate pay-off, your hard work will eventually be rewarded.

My second favourite item is the chest of drawers in my bedroom.

1930s style dresser in black bedroom - see more at www.swooworthy.co.uk

I wanted something in wood to ground the space as there is so much bold colour in that room and it needed to fit the alcove. I was keeping an open mind as to the style I was looking for and I think sometimes that’s important when it comes to looking for second-hand goods. You really can’t be too specific but I promise, you’ll probably know it when you see it. And so, when I stumbled upon this 1930’s beauty two and a half years ago that was in perfect condition for £100 in my local area, I couldn’t click ‘Buy It Now’ fast enough.

The number three spot goes to the cabinet where my television sits.

vintage mirror television cabinet - see more at www.swoonworthy.co.uk

We’d purchased a rather horrible contemporary black glossy number when we’d moved in and as the decor of the living room progressed, it simply didn’t fit the space any more (I’ll be honest, I have no idea what I was thinking buying it aside from the fact that we were broke and we needed something – anything – to fill the space.). So after widening my search on eBay and realising I would have to stump up to get it delivered from the other side of the country, I had my hands on this beautiful Art Deco style cabinet for less than £100 all in. I removed the existing glass and fitted mirrors in their place, added a shelf inside and painted it white. Since then, I’ve had a whole host of emails asking me where I got it. In some ways, it’s disappointing having to tell people that it was a vintage find but it just goes to show that persistence will pay off and you can find some unusual bargains!

My fourth most favourite second-hand score is my bar cart.

brass barcart against dark blue wall - see more at www.swoonworthy.co.uk

I found this over four years ago and I still love it. I mean, it has SWANS ON IT. I purchased it from a woman who had the entire 1990’s set in all its glory – she had the coffee table, side tables, a huge glass etagere and her home was like a pristine shrine to the era, all burgundy and pink wall-to-wall carpeting and flowery wallpaper borders. I almost wished I’d taken photos of it all because it was incredible. She parted with this piece for a mere £30 and I’ve genuinely never seen another like it. And while I do sometimes dream about buying a new one as there are so many gorgeous ones on the market since I bought this, it’s just so unusual that I can’t bear to part with it.

And finally…I know I banged on about the desk in my office recently but it’s still one of my most favourite second hand finds.

black desk in pink wallpapered office - see more at www.swoonworthy.co.uk

It started life as a horrible 1970’s relic but I saw potential in it’s shape and knew with a bit of elbow grease, I could turn it into the stunning antique desk I really wanted. This again is such an important thing when looking for items second-hand. If it has a great shape and is in sturdy condition, then you’ve got to consider if by adding a glossy coat of paint and some new handles, it could actually be your dream piece. Not every piece should be painted of course (please do leave those beautiful antique pieces away from the paint!) but if it’s an ugly laminate like this one was or the piece really can’t be saved by sanding and restaining or oiling it, then it may be worth the time to give it a bit of a makeover.

So those are basically my top five vintage scores. Go check out Brynne’s series for even more second-hand gorgeousness and be inspired by the amazing finds you can get if you just put in the time and patience in your searches. For tips on bargain hunting on eBay, check out my post on How to Become an eBay Ninja!

What are your favourite vintage buys and where’s your favourite spot to score a second-hand bargain? I’d love if you could share your finds in the comments!


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