Australian Modern on a Budget

A lot of people think that buying good vintage pieces is
expensive, but the good news is that with a bit of research
and a discerning eye, it’s easy to find great pieces from
the post-war period. Whether it’s a vintage chair for the
bedroom, a sideboard as a focal point for the dining room,
or even an outdoor setting for your patio, there are plenty
of inexpensive options to suit most budgets.

When it comes to buying vintage, it’s important to realize that price
is often determined by demand, rarity and condition. So firstly you
need to consider the reason for your purchase. If you’re looking for
an investment piece, you should only buy pieces in original condition
with minimal wear. But keep in mind that we’re talking about secondhand
furniture from the 1950-70’s, so you shouldn’t expect perfection.

If the aim of your search is to simply buy a few good vintage pieces
to mix n match with your contemporary furniture, then condition may
not be so important. Updating vintage pieces is a great way to recycle.
Transform old couches into sumptuous sofas or turn old vinyl chairs into
woollen wonders (pictured below) by having them professionally
reupholstered in modern colours and natural fabrics.

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Get professional advice on restoring and/or polishing timbers. A little bit
of wear can add character, so resist the urge to give your vintage pieces
the ‘botox look’ by sanding away their patina and coating them in
polyurethane, timber stains or paint. Not all timbers are alike, so get advice
on choosing the right natural waxes and/or oils to nourish and protect your
treasured vintage pieces.

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Great buys can be found on ebay, at auction houses, or even your
local Sunday Bric-a-brac Market. If it’s Scandinavian style you want,
look out for stylish designs by Australian companies such as, Fler,
Parker and Danish Deluxe. These brands were well regarded in
their time and offer excellent value for money. On a good day, a pair of
Danish Deluxe chairs like the ones pictured above can be picked up for
as little as $200-$500 on eBay. You can also find fashionable lounges
by these companies for around $1000 on eBay or in secondhand stores.
It’s a good idea to note down designs you like and shop around to
get an idea of the average price you can expect to pay for the items in
good condition. By comparing prices you should be able to tell if you are
paying the going rate or getting a bargain.

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You may not have enough cash to splurge on an iconic design, but
if your budget doesn’t stretch to $5000-$8000 for a Grant Featherston
contour chair, you can pick up an uber cool Numero Uno foam
lounge (pictured above) designed by Featherston for as little as
$800 – $1000. Webbed dining chairs by Douglas Snelling can often be
picked up for less than $500 and add a great designer accent to a room.
Also look out for quality pieces such as stools (pictured below),
chairs and lounges made by Module Furniture.

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Coffee tables and sideboards are plentiful, so shop around
to find a bargain. Look for quality and avoid pieces that involve
complex repairs, such as damage to timber veneers or deep
scratches that may require extensive refinishing. When possible
choose solid timber over chipboard and timber laminate, and
avoid painted pieces unless you are willing to pay for professional
paint removal. Look out for sideboards designed by Hans Hayson
Beard Watson, and manufacturers such as Noblett, Parker, Fler
and Summertone. It’s also a good idea to consider the colour of
the timber and how it will work with the other furnishings in your home.

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By mixing a few good vintage pieces in with your contemporary furnishings,
you can create an individual look, recycle great furniture and reduce your
environmental footprint in style. Buying vintage makes great sense when
you consider what you can get for your money. And best of all, it’s already
assembled and ready to be enjoyed and admired for years to come.

Buying tips:

1. Shop around to get a good idea of market prices.

2. Consider what you are getting for your money. Is it a good buy?

3. Never buy fake or replica vintage pieces (see my detailed post).

4. Always try to view the item and never buy sight unseen unless you
trust the seller or have a detailed condition description.

5. Be aware that many sellers are not experts, so you need to do
your research to make sure you’re getting the real deal.

6. If you are unsure what you’re buying, simply ask for documentation
that proves the item is authentic. Look for signs of age, stamps, etc.

7. Ask about the provenance of the item. Where did it come from
and who previously owned it. These stories really add to the charm
and help authenticate your item.

8. When buying pieces that need restoration consider the cost of
repair, refinishing and reupholstering. Would you be better off buying
a restored piece?

9. Finally, negotiating the price. Ask the seller what their best price
is but always be reasonable. If you are already getting a bargain,
just pay the asking price. Never haggle in charity or thrift shops.

10. Relax and enjoy your new vintage piece knowing that you’re
preserving a piece of our design history, helping the environment
and creating a stylish interior at the same time.

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