A vintage home
PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 March 2014
Buying antiques and vintage items is only increasing in popularity, so we asked BELLA EDGLEY how to shop for them in Somerset
Treasure seeking for antiques and vintage furniture can be a really fun pastime and is a great way to add character to your home. There are many great shops, markets and auctions to visit in and around Somerset.
Why relevant now?
Antique (and vintage) items are gaining in popularity as people increasingly turn their backs on a here today, gone tomorrow culture. They are indeed a more sustainable choice; a report carried out by Carbon Clear revealed that an antique chest of drawers has a carbon footprint 16 times lower than that of its modern high-street equivalent, even allowing for it to have been sold, moved and restored twice in its lifetime!
In these financially-stretched times we are all being careful with our money and antiques can represent really good value for money . They normally cost less than their modern equivalent - if comparing like with like in terms of materials and workmanship. And while they may be more expensive than their modern mass-produced counterparts they will generally be better made, of superior materials and last for longer.
What to look for?
It is down to personal choice but a useful tip is to directly mix contemporary pieces with antiques. So, for example, try decorating a contemporary table with some antique accessories. Likewise an antique side table or chest can look stunning with the clean lines and simplicity of objects such as contemporary ceramics.
Take measurements and pictures of larger items and have a think about how it will look in your home before committing to it. It is also important to have a closer look at materials and construction. Where surfaces and joints are damaged it is important to assess whether this matters to the piece and, if so, whether it is something that can be fixed. If this is the case then ask the vendor if they are able to arrange this, or ask for a discount. In fact, there is no reason not to at least try haggling down the price (about 10 per cent) on most items, and this can add to the fun!
Where to look:
Fairs, reclamation yards and auctions are good places to pick up bargains, while specialist shops have the advantage of the good pieces already having been picked out.
The Shepton Mallet Antiques and Collector’ s Fair is held every two months in the Royal Bath and West Showground. Other fairs in Somerset include The Tatton Park Antiques and Fine Art Fair, The Cotswolds Decorative Antiques and Fine Art Fair, Bath Vintage and Antiques Market in Green Park Station, and Bath Decorative and Antiques Fair.
Reclamation yards can be found throughout Somerset, Wells Reclamation has more than five acres of architectural salvage and interiors, and nearby Semley Reclamation in Dorset always has a lovely selection of furniture.
Auctions are another great place to look and worth it even if just for the thrill of bidding live. Always determine your top price before bidding and stop there to avoid getting carried away.
Bids are made at specific times and you can either bid personally or ask the auction house to bid for you. The Antiques Trade Gazette lists auctions across the country so you can check it out to find out which ones are in your area.
Every city and town in Somerset has antiques shops. Tetbury is particularly well known for antiques and for a small place is host to a disproportionately large number of such shops.
To sell on unwanted pieces try listing in your local newspaper, contact your local auction house or, for the computer savvy, eBay. That’ s the beauty of antiques and vintage - they retain a resale value meaning that you can sell them on to someone else to love, leaving you free to go and look for your next exciting find!
Bella Edgley bellaedgley.co.uk is an architect and illustrator living in Bath and also runs Bou Design boudesign.co.uk
This article was first published in the March issue of Somerset Life. To get the magazine delivered every month to your home, subscribe at www.subscriptionsave.co.uk/som or call 08448484217