Saturday, 12 January 2013

Top Tips for Vintage Finds

Vintage Wooden Wine Box (12 Bottle Box)
Wine Box from a selection at

With all the excitement and the thrill of our new kitchen and idyllic country style dining room, our attic is looking a bit forlorn. Forgotten at the top of the house, we were lucky that it had been converted before moving it, but with the little one's tribute to the Olympic gymnastics down the attic stairs, it is a place off limits during the day. It has become a functional space of housing awkward items such as the golf clubs which elbow and jostle anything that might sit beside them. It is an office to house the bigger computer and somewhere there is a bed which any poor unsuspecting overnight guest has to seek beneath forgotten toys and dusty sewing projects. My mother stoically comes to stay and has until recently been very jolly about fashioning a blind for the Velux windows with a towel. The blind has been fixed, but time and money has meant the attic has become a vortex. So now with the computer disappearing behind reams of drawings and filing, I have decided it is a New Year and time to get organised! With this in mind and the space being a challenging 'U' shape we need to find pieces which are useful, practical and have of course the potential to up cycle!

Top Tips for Vintage Finds...

Our first priority and a top request from Duck Egg are for chest of drawers. When I first started out in interiors, I was amazed by the ferocity of the chest of drawers market! It is a case of if you see something you like, buy it before it goes. The answer to why they are so loved is their unending practicality. We often look for the less fashionable mahogany type because they usually have beautiful and original handles. Don't worry if the handle set isn't complete you can usually find similar style on eBay or if you are little like the Duck Egg crew we use ours with the missing handle. The darker wood styles often have lovely engraved patterns on which in a lighter colour add another interesting dimension. I like to use a white palette with larger pieces of furniture and have recently started using 'Pavilion Grey' from Farrow and Ball, which is a very soft grey and lovely for distressing with a dark wax for a more Gustavian feel. It is often a good contrast with other white furniture. Annie Sloan also has a beautiful 'Paris Grey' which is lovely if you are covering darker wood as there is no need for primer or sanding. We are looking for an interesting and Victorian style small chest of drawers for the attic that can cope with the low eaves and has that Downton feel....

Always check for wood worm in pieces by looking for fresh dust inside drawers...and a great although maybe slightly outdated idea is to line drawers either with scented liners (try Crabtree and Evelyn) or wallpaper off cuts with dried herbs placed in the drawers.

We are also looking for bookshelves. A great way of transforming cheap bookshelves is to paint in a luxurious colour such as a rich Duck Egg or Pink and distress. A white undercoat showing through will help with ageing it when you distress it. To make these bookshelves more unique and vintage, cut out old maps and wallpaper to line the back and paste with PVA or a spray adhesive. Simple, fun and very stylish. You could also stencil the outside if you wanted to. Line up old Penguin titles and junk shop finds and integrate favourite collections such as shells. A vintage crate might also fit well  in the shelves or be a useful addition on top.

A big expense when finalising an interior is often the mirror. Go for shapes. An oval shape will not take up too much room and add gentle curves to the room. There is something very fairy tale about this shape, so don't be put off by a heavy gilded frame if you want a more shabby chic feel. You are more likely to find gilded frames and a chalk paint will cover well and brighten the frame if you want to change it. Just remember to mask the glass with a good quality masking tape.

Good places to start looking for vintage finds are antiques fairs, a great place to define your taste from a wide range of eras.

Look out for lovely styles, easy to upholster pieces such as footstools, which are a quick and relatively inexpensive way to update an interior with a vintage feel, quirky cupboards where you can replace front panels with chicken wire for a rustic French feel. Come and share your projects with Duck Egg on Twitter @duck_egg or .

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