Grandma’s homewares good as new

According to a recent study by online trading site Gumtree, the second-hand home decor market is booming, with 90 per cent of Australians having purchased used household items in the past 12 months, with furniture making up 31 per cent of that share.

Kirsty Dunn, from Gumtree Australia, says by choosing to not buy new, people can find a gem while saving money — and the environment.

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media_cameraBreathe new life into tired old furniture with Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan

“We’re all becoming more eco-conscious and savvier with how we spend our money,” Kirsty says. “So it makes sense to look for something on Gumtree in your local area first before going to the shops.”

As the collection and rehoming manager for The Bower Reuse and Repair Centre in Marrickville, Louise Grace says we should also consider upcycling household items.

“Australians are very good at donating, but not so good at buying second-hand and that’s something we need to change,” Louise says. “It needs to become the new norm because there’s such a glut of stuff out there — more than The Bower or any charity can keep up with.”

media_cameraBefore heading to the furniture store, consider shopping for unique pieces at places like The Bower Reuse & Repair Centre

“Lighting is one of my favourite things to find in charity stores, or to have passed on from friends and family,” says Tiffany Benn, founder of Hart Home Decor.

“A new lampshade and the right bulb can transform what was once a tired-looking lamp into your new favourite item.”

With home makeovers on the rise, The Bower has decades of donated styles.

“We get a lot of good quality light fittings,” Louise says. “Art deco is quite popular and we have quite a few ’60s and ’70s ones around that are either wall sconces or ceilings fixtures.”

Tiffany says it’s clear that second-hand glassware adds a personal touch from inexpensive coloured vases to coloured vintage wine glasses or pricier cut crystal.

media_cameraHart Home Decor glass topped table. A little wear and tear adds old world charm

“They give a wonderfully luxurious vibe to your home,” she says. “My friends are always commenting on my collection.

“My current favourite is a cut glass vintage ice bucket I put some tiny fairy lights in to give some serious sparkle when the lights are down low.”

Solid timber dining and lounge chairs are ideal second-hand buys because they were made to last.

“I bought a lovely green corner chair on Gumtree for $100, but I probably would have paid about $600 for it brand new,” says Kirsty. “I love it, but I also love the thrill that I’ve saved a lot of money — and still got just what I wanted.”

As well as finding preloved pieces for clients, Tiffany bought herself six dining chairs on eBay.

media_cameraIf you don’t like that worn look, paint really can give an old piece of furniture new life

“I painted them myself and had them reupholstered in velvet,” she says. “If I’d bought something similar from a shop it probably would have cost me close to $1000 a chair, but second-hand is nicer because you get something that’s so original,” she says.

Louise says reclaimed timber is easy to find and can be reused in any number of ways.

Older timber that has been pulled out of a house has had time to breath and season and as it’s often old growth with tighter grain,” she says. “Old growth Australian hardwood is also a finite resource and when they demolish houses in the future it will be plantation pine they pull out, as opposed to the beautiful jarrah, oaks, cedar, kauri that are currently available.”

media_cameraShed Eleven’s Jemma Wlasichuk and Fanny Clarsen

Paint can completely transform a second-hand piece. Timber tables or dressers are a solid choice, says Louise, because they can easily be reborn, recycled or repaired.

“Anything made from solid wood you can paint, stain, sand back or restore it fairly easily,” she says. “With modern chip board or MDF furniture as soon as it’s exposed to moisture or the veneer gets chipped it’s ruined and shabby.”

Jemma Wlasichuk and Fanny Clarsen from Shed Eleven, painters in residence for Chalk Paint queen Annie Sloan, have some tips to help repaint old furniture.

1 Think about the mood a colour will bring to the room and whether the piece is to be a focal point or to blend in.

2 Work with the existing decor. If the exact desired shade isn’t available, mix paint to make create an individual colour, or choose something to complement the room, fabrics or the artwork.

3 Find colour and style inspiration online from You Tube, Pinterest or Facebook.

4 Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Paint is quick and easy to change, so it’s no drama to repaint.


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