I've held back for a while, it's nice to keep some things to yourself, but now I've decided to let you in on a little secret. How to find treasures on auction sites such as Ebay
and classified ad sites such as GumTree
By treasures, I mean pieces that look great, will last and will hold, or maybe even increase, their value if you want to resell them in the future.
- Search for products from incredibly well-established, high-end design retailers: Liberty of London, Heals, Chaplins, Selfridges, Anthropologie and The Conran Shop, etc. All these stores specialise in expensive and generally well-built homewares and furniture, so if the product is genuine - and that's one thing I can't guarantee - it should be durable and to be able to bought for a fraction of its original price.
Tom Raffield pendant light fitting, a bargain find on Ebay
- Search for products by up and coming designers that have recently been mentioned in the press or bought by a celebrity. Days ago I bought a beautiful oak light fitting by Cornish-based designer Tom Raffield for less than a third of what it would have cost new. And, it was new, it was an unwanted gift still in its original packaging. Rory Dobner, Tom Dixon, Orla Keily and Donna Wilson are some of the other names I regularly scour the resale sites for.
- Then you want to look for the designer products that are coming back into fashion. Vintage G-Plan, Ercol, Kartell and Eames products are very much sought after at the moment and there is so much of it about you can pick it up quite cheaply. Take a look at the Out of The Dark website for inspiration on how you can make these things over for the 21st century, they have a whole catalogue of furniture that you can buy and restore yourself, or save yourself the trouble and buy a newly restored piece direct from them. They have some fantastic pieces.
Vintage desk and chair, complete with 1940s graffiti and chewing gum that had to be hacked off, bought from Ebay for £34. If it's held up for all those years it can take my kids
- Vintage shop fittings, traditional wooden flip-top school desks, and architects' plan drawers are other pieces to look out for. These original pieces are growing in demand at the moment and will rise in value. Don't pay hundreds for them though.
Any private sellers selling pieces by any of the designers or companies mentioned obviously have good and expensive taste so always remember to check out what else they are selling whilst you are browsing. More often than not, their priority is to get rid rather than get a good price. Happy hunting!
The first week of July our home is awash with cards, crackers, tree decorations, festive gifts and even Christmas puddings.
This is not because I am one of those people who start preparing their Christmas to-do list on New Year’s Day. I am the exact opposite.
It’s because, big brands work around magazine schedules. I style photo shoots, so when you see spreads of people’s lovely homes in newspapers and magazines I, or someone like me, have spent a day in that house taking out all the boring, ugly, everyday objects - dish cloths and toothpaste, telephone chargers and clothes lines – and putting in lovely little extra touches – the very latest bedside lamps, throws, cushions, vases of flowers and maybe even a bed.
Magazines work far in advance. I’ve already shot this year’s Christmas pages, so stores launch their Christmas products to the press in July. And in June we did Autumn Winter.
One of those days in June I went to the Argos Autumn Winter launch. I’ll be honest; I wasn’t expecting much. I’d always regarded Argos as a store you go to for toasters, TVs and toys.
I got a shock. The company had transformed a series of plain rooms in central London into a welcoming family home, full of furniture that I wanted in my house, cushions that would look great on my sofa and lights that could hang out on my ceilings any day. Within minutes of coming home I’d ordered a round bathroom mirror concealing a cabinet behind – perfect for my little shower room.
The Argos group recently bought Habitat and this marriage of style and affordability has benefited both parties. Habitat now has a great range of budget furniture and homewares, much of which can also be bought through Argos and Argos has become much more focused on creating functional and design conscious products.
Maine extra-deep shelving combinations
extra deep shelving combinations are an ideal mix and match solution for covering a whole wall in display and book shelving, for example. There are hidden storage options too for unsightly toys and ugly electrical equipment and these units are extra deep so that they will hold coffee table books, vases and ornaments that need to be shown off.
The Living Karran double bed works as an extra deep sofa during the day
Whilst the Living Karran double bed slots right into that luxury hotel bedroom style. Not only does it look great, it has lovely legs too, remember being able to see underneath a piece of furniture makes the whole room feel more spacious. (Check out the Use your Legs to grow your rooms feature here
And I’ve always struggled to find stylish and affordable high sleepers great for freeing up space in older children’s rooms, but finally Argos has delivered. With some clever styling the Harper high sleeper
can make a teenage room appear to have the feel of a self-contained studio.
If you’re just looking to update your accessories, there are some lovely light fittings too. Give your living room ceiling a makeover with the Habitat Perle
light fitting, a bargain at £30 and treat your kitchen to the Living Kit Half Dome
To see the full Argos extended lighting range click here This post is part of an Argos promotion, but the opinions are genuine and our own
It's sales season in the UK and if you know where to look you can find some delicious bargains. And, if you're reading this from your sofa in Sydney or your hammock in Hawaii, I know I have many international readers, don't worry (aside from one) everyone mentioned here ships.
When shopping the sales you need to follow three rules:
1. If you shop regularly at a store where everything is affordable for you out of sale period don't shop there during their sale period. If you liked it enough you would have bought it before it was discounted. The only thing that is attracting you to the product this time is its bargain basement sale tag.
2. Don't shop anywhere where you couldn't afford even 20% of the price of the goods on offer outside of sale time. Rarely is anything discounted more than 70%. You won't be able to afford to shop there during sale time either, you don't want to buy something that puts you into debt.
3. Haggle. The reason the stuff is on sale is because the store wants rid of it. If it's a large piece of furniture with a still fairly largish figure attached, there may be some further leeway to go on the price. Nothing to lose in asking, especially if it's a little substandard and has a scratch somewhere or a stain. You can do this virtually too, send them a cheeky email, you never know...
With this in mind, let's go shopping:
Fired Earth's handmade and hand decorated Natural History Sycamore and Alder tile panels are down 50% to £175 each.
concentrates on elegant timeless craftsmanship. Whether it's a kitchen chair, a bath or a tile, you won't have to stray far from the homepage to find something you'll fall instantly in love with. It's pricey, but during sale time you can uncover some relative bargains. For export sales call +44 (0) 1295814 315.
e-side's One C dining chair will slip neatly under a dining table
The innovative online store E-Side
specialises in cutting edge, sustainable furniture. This striking, but simple chair will comfortably wrap itself around your body and as it appears to almost float on air it will ensure your room doesn't feel to cluttered too. Currently reduced from £390 to £230.
Step up with this space enhancing Trent & Ashby flat weave linear runner from Roger Oates
If you're looking to make an entrance, look no further than Roger Oates
. They have been designing and hand producing their uniquely smart, simple and classic pure wool Venetian Flatweave rugs and runners for over twenty years. Sorry sale goods are limited to the UK though. This Trent & Ashby flat weave runner is down from £110 per linear metre to £59.
Vintage Jessie Tait salt and pepper pots now just £12.50 at Pretty Dandy
Finally, I've also spotted this eye-catching pair of salt and pepper pots by famed English ceramicist Jessie Tait for Mindwinter at Pretty Dandy.
Great if you like that classic Sixties feel.
Have you spotted any great sales to add to this list? Subscribe to my RSS feed for instant email updates every time I post