Furnishing Our House With Second Hand Finds: Case Study

Vintage plates, cups and saucers

If you want to bring interest to your home and find an economical way of furnishing your property then there are finds to be discovered in junk shops, at auction and at car boot sales – one couple have done just that.

From trawling car boot sales to visiting the auctions, one couple have been determined to furnish their home with as many second hand finds as possible. Not only has it saved them money but it has resulted in a number of very interesting items.

Cathy Gilbert Explains…

We live in a small house near the centre of a city. The house was actually originally bought by my husband. I met him a couple of years afterwards and then moved in about a year later. He bought the house because it seemed almost untouched – very little had been done to it since it was first built at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

It did not have central heating and still had all its period features. Its only concession to modernity was the very modest bathroom stuck on at the back beyond the kitchen.

Keeping up Tradition

The house is a traditional “two-up-two-down.” You come in through the front door and immediately find yourself in what would have been the parlour. This leads through into the original dining room (now our sitting room) and then the kitchen and bathroom. Between the two downstairs rooms is a central staircase. This heads up to two bedrooms, one of which has a box room.

Fabulous Finds

My husband has always been a second hand find enthusiast. Even as a teenager he was always driving his mum mad by coming home with piles of old books, records and charity clothes. As a student, he rarely bought anything new. After buying the house, he immediately set about furnishing it with second hand pieces. I think he probably made a pledge with himself not to buy anything new!

Since then, the house has evolved as we have chosen more and more pieces together – but the theme is always the same, everything is second hand.

Musical Gems

The front room is a more formal space than anywhere else in the house. Here we not only have an old piano that we bought second hand from the small ads (I’m a keen player) but we also have an old gramophone.

My husband found this in a junk shop. I think it was supposed to be ornamental but he had it restored and now he plays his second hand records on it. We also have our beautiful Victorian glass collection in this room. We started this together after happening upon a particularly eye-catching jug in an antique shop in Devon once.

Since then we have collected about 30 more pieces. We display them in a glass-fronted cabinet that a friend found on a skip.

Second Hand Comfort

The middle room has a cosier feel. Here we have two sofas that we bought together from an auction website, a coffee table that came from a car boot and a rug that a relative was throwing out.

Second hand books line the shelves, an exquisite clock that came in a box of goodies we bid for at auction sits on the mantelpiece and by our fire is a companion set that we inherited. Our only concession to 21st century living – and our only new item – is our television!

Kitchen Treasures

Through on into the back of the house is our kitchen, which has been redecorated on several occasions since my husband first bought the house. Assorted crockery (mostly from the 1940s and 50s) sits on the shelves while second-hand pans and utensils, again from car boot sales, hang on hooks.

Even the bathroom has a second-hand bath. We found a free-standing, claw foot iron bath at a salvage yard two years ago and painstakingly refurbished it ourselves in our back garden.

Perfect Pieces

Upstairs, we sleep on a bed we bought second hand over the internet, hang our cloths in wardrobes that we bought the same way and put our refurbished second hand lamps on small bedside tables we bought from a junk shop and had dipped and stripped. My husband and I are both great believers in buying second hand.

We hate this throwaway society of ours and we believe there is great beauty to be found in older, well-made items. I am in no doubt that buying second hand has also saved us a huge amount of money over the years – and, even better than that, we have both had great fun and enjoyed huge excitement in happening upon that perfect find.”

See Also
mid century style living space
Period Style on a Budget
Antique home accessories
Home Accessories at Auction