One of the things that Shaun & I like to do in spring & summer is exploring local car boot sales and vintage flea markets. We’ve been to a mind-blowingly beautiful antique market in Covent Garden before however London is quite a trek away from here so we usually stick to the local car boot, cosy curio shops or small town antique markets (the one in Leek is so damn pretty!). It’s sometimes difficult though to judge what is just rubble and what will make a potentially stunning piece for your living room. Based on years of my experience as a hoarder a collector I’ve compiled a little helpful list of items which I believe give you the best return on investment so to say. You know – the ones that won’t make you regret the 50p you just spent.
Which are the best things to look out for when at a car boot, flea market or an antique shop?
📎 Plates, glasses & dishes
Kitchenalia are one of the best investments you can make when on a hunt at a car boot sale. People usually sell old plates, cups, glasses and even oven proof dishes for a few pence because they inherited them from their nan and she inherited them from her nan and she inherited them from the Queen herself. But it’s just not their taste. They’d much prefer a crisp white set from IKEA. Might as well live from a paper cup! Take these plates home and enjoy the fact that no one else has got these anymore – they’ve been through wars and yet they still look damn fabulous even with that £10 takeaway pizza you’ve just carefully arranged on them.
I’m a magpie – everything that clinks & shines gotta be mine. Cutlery is yet another example of a seemingly out-of-fashion piece that in fact is very much in fashion without people even realising it. Just look at the new John Lewis collection. It’s all curls and swirls and all things nice. Why not have a whole set for 50p – and since it’s already lasted a 100 years, what are the chances it’ll give up on life now? That’s the kind of guarantee that John Lewis won’t give you.
📎 Flower pots & planters
I just can’t even look at those white lacey IKEA pots anymore – everyone and their bloody cat have them (literally, I’ve seen people put kittens in them, why!). For brushes, for daisies, DIY-ed into lamp shades! STAHP RIGHT NOW. You can get a full set of terracotta planters with that ever so desirable white patina that Urban Outfitters make artificially in their labs under UV lights with pipettes of mould and what not. Or a dainty little tea cup for your cactus! Or even a heavy brass pot with lion heads and gargoyles. For a few pence!
You can’t have too many books – and if you don’t read them then use them for something else. Use them under a plant pot, to raise a desk lamp or stack them up into a dead neat night stand (a DIY idea right there for ya!). Those really old books with wilted pages and battered spines can also be worth a lot of money. Last summer we got an edition of complete works of Shakespeare for 50p and I found it on eBay for over £50 today!
📎 Random decor items
Things that others don’t want might be exactly the things you’ll absolutely love. Try not to look at pieces the way they are (lying in a crate covered in dust & cat hairs), imagine their potential instead! If something has got a beautiful eye-catching shape but has been painted bee yellow maybe you could just spray paint it metallic gold, velvety matte black or high gloss white? If a lamp has got a stunning base but a pee-stained shade then maybe just swap the shade for a new one?
Think outside of the box
(literally, outside of the cobwebbed crate full of rubble).
📎 Scissors & tools
Another thing I can’t not pick up are scissors and various household tools. Got myself a neat almost dainty hammer not that long ago and have already put it to good use on a few little maintenance projects. Scissors are a whole new level of beautiful – the super old ones with rusty blades that smell real odd? That’s probably a pair of tailoring scissors – one of the best quality scissors there are. Give them a good scrub, re-paint the handles, have the blades resharpened.
If I was to buy only one thing at a vintage market then it would be vintage silver rings. We’ve already talked about why silver jewellery is everything a few months back and I still stand by all my points. There’s something magical about vintage jewellery pieces – they have stories to tell, yet once you’ve given them a good polish they look brand new. I’m telling you, it’s magic!
📎 Vintage furniture
If you’re lucky enough you might spot a mighty furniture piece. And those are not to be hesitated upon! Coming across a solid oak coffee table for a tenner is just short of a miracle in my books – or an apothecary cabinet, just imagine! Even just an old archive cabinet that could – with a bit of TLC – turn into an apothecary gem. Think outside of that box (or that muddy old van, in this case).
📎 Picture frames & art
Recently it seems that interior designers are avoiding wall art unless it’s spread across a whole wall & a half. Dainty vintage portraits and retro photographs with kittens in floral dresses and ribbons behind their ears are just as much art as a large contemporary canvas. Art is not defined by its price tag (or size). Although those 50p frames – oh yes please!
📎 A sausage sandwich
The ultimate car boot happiness. Alternatively get a cuppa & a scone at a vintage market, please. That’ll do.