Recycling Grandly – Pre-Loved, Vintage and Antique Pieces

Holiday periods and long weekends give everyone an opportunity to catch up on jobs left undone, or passions and pleasures denied. A favourite pastime for our family over the years has been hunting for that special piece of furniture, or wonderful piece of objet d’art in an antiques shop, second hand store, auction room, church opportunity shop, garage sale or dare I say it, on ebay. Recycling everything is very important in this contemporary age, and it makes good sense for us all to try and buy pre-loved pieces.

From experience working in the antiques trade, perusing galleries, working at and attending antiques and art fairs and auctions over a long period of time (some 30 years) collecting antiques, or vintage pieces, is a pleasure that is indulged in by a vast number of people, from many different backgrounds and from all walks of life.

With the money saved on buying new, you can also enjoy a holiday. Just recently one of my three sons purchased a pair of black leather lounges; the leather soft like silk, the brand very well known. The owner had loved them for only nine months, but then was suddenly being transferred overseas and so the suite, which cost mega bucks new, suddenly found its way to his house for less than a thousand dollars. The bonus was that one contained a spare double bed. For my son this was a great piece of luck, because he had just moved into a new place of abode and they were absolutely perfect for his needs.

Chesterfields before their new coat

A great deal of satisfaction comes from finding something at a great price that serves a great purpose and recycling it grandly to give it many more years of service.  A happy treasure hunt memory of mine is finding two serpentine fronted antique Victorian Chesterfields in a country barn at Tring in Hertfordshire, England with their original leather covering hanging in shreds. They were brought back to life with the aid of some additional stuffing, a new coat of stylish heavy black faille fabric and new buttons. Shipped to Australia cost effectively following 25 years or so of service, they gained another new coat in a smart taupe colour and were sold on to a new home. Their style and purpose worked equally well in a heritage or contemporary setting.

Hallstand restored

My youngest son gave new life to a turn of the 20th century hall stand and also a great country table. Both ended up looking wonderful from a sad and sorry state.

Hallstand being restored

The hall stand he knew would work well near the front door for dumping keys, coats, and umbrellas. The house it was going into was an old Queenslander so it perfectly suited both the style and era and was immensely practical.

He had to take it all apart first and then keeping every original piece he reinforced all its joints, manufactured a new drawer and other broken parts, reassembled it and gave it a new coat of varnish. It would have been easy to have just dumped it, but the whole exercise, which he had never attempted before, gave him immense personal satisfaction. Good to know also that the woodwork classes from his school days would, with practice and persistence end up having a practical application.

The table he recycled grandly was found in a garage sale at an incredibly reasonable price. $50 to take it away and it was big enough to seat 12 people. He gave the legs and base a coat of new paint, replaced its broken castors and re-waxed the old wide timbers on the top lovingly. When he had finished it looked truly great. He was happy too that it wasn’t so precious people wouldn’t feel relaxed or happy sitting at it to enjoy their daily meals.

The use of vintage pieces and collectibles in traditional or modern settings will always be desirable; the lure of the past is strong. The very nature of their delightful idiosyncrasies is very appealing. The variety of choice available in lovely decorative pieces, such as the colour, warmth and mellowness of aged wood, the gentle softness of old paint and gilding, the variety in exotic inlays and now extinct materials, all produced by craftsmen who refined their skills into an ‘art’ form is generally enough incentive. However, when all of these attributes are combined with the ‘thrill of the chase’ it can be quite simply irresistible.

Happy hunting…Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2010 – 2012


Download our INTRODUCTION TO ANTIQUES, which aims to provide a basic foundation of knowledge. There are some guidelines to follow and advice that may assist you.  You may also care to watch our You Tube Video What is An Antique

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