Over the last few months, one of the things I have learned is how important it is to have a home that you enjoy coming home to! Sounds pretty obvious right. But since our move back to the city a few weeks ago, Andrew and I have come to realise just how much living in the wrong house can affect your mood.
So, with that in mind, I’ve been concentrating on ways that we can turn our new home into a relaxing retreat, full of the things that are special to us, and the things that make us unique.
Something that was apparent in our old house was how sterile it all seemed. Being renters, we’re not always able to paint a wall or pop up a quirky wallpaper and so we are surrounded by impersonal, magnolia walls everywhere we turn. Combine that with mass produced furniture and there really doesn’t seem to be anything personal to us in the home.
Well with this house, I’m taking a stand. No more mass produced furniture. Sure it’s easier to come by and it’s all very convenient, but for us, it just isn’t personal enough. Like the house itself, we like things with a bit of character. We like a few dinks here and there, we like crooked floors and everything being not quite perfect.
Combine this with a love of all things vintage, we’ve been finding hidden treasures for steal prices and the way the house is taking shape, it’s totally worth it!
So today I thought I’d share a few secrets with you on where we’ve been picking up the best pieces, and how we’ve been putting our own unique stamp on a rented home.
1) Car Boot Sales
With the rise of eBay and other online auctions sites, it seems to me that car boot sales have become less and less popular than what they were, but there’s still a strong community of bargain hunters and junk ridders who keep them alive.
With car boot sales it can be a bit hit and miss, but that’s what I love about them. Among the trash you can sometimes find your perfect treasure. We’ve had some great buys from our local car boot sale, my favourite being this wonderful retro clock, full working order, just £5 (I almost fell over when the guy selling it said that’s all he wanted for it!)
Another great buy were these retro beer mats, by far my best ever bargain at just 10p for the lot!
We’ve started a collection of vintage cameras, displayed together beneath a gallery of our own photos. Each and every one came from a car boot sale, and because they’re decorative, they don’t all need to work – which means we could snap them up much cheaper (pun intended!).
As well as these great retro finds, car boot sales have also given us some perfect upcycling projects, one which I’m yet to begin is this lovely, simple telephone table. Still debating what I want to do with it – I have coral and metallic gold paints just itching to be opened…
2) Antiques Showrooms
These may not be the best places to snap up a bargain but you’ll definitely find something unique. If anything, a mooch around an antiques showroom can be a lovely way to while away an afternoon. We like to visit them on weekdays when they’re quieter. I love wandering around and imagining the stories that each piece has to tell. It can be just as fun as spending the morning in a museum, although with the added mystery of not knowing where everything’s come from.
One ofur best finds from antiques rooms has been this stunning Tiffany Lamp, which Andrew’s had for years. I was thrilled when we moved in together and he produced this from his packing boxes. Yes – he can stay!
By far one of my favourite unique finds was yet another that Andrew spied in an antiques shop. My pride of joy grandfather clock, which I upcycled earlier this year. Swoon…
I’ve also found a great table trolley, which I thought was an absolute steal at just £20. No pics available of this though as it’s currently undergoing a make over – so keep your eyes peeled for this popping up on the blog soon.
3) Free networks
Inspired by Kirstie Allsopp’s TV show, Fill Your House for Free, I am now a huge fan of free networks like Freecycle, Freegle, Freely Wheelie and the like. What a great concept – unwanted furniture, for free. Simple. Save a piece from landfill and save yourself some cash in the process.
At first I felt guilty, calling to collect some truly great pieces with nothing but a smile and profuse ‘thank yous’. But once you start giving back to the network, and getting rid of your own unwanted items on there, it all just makes sense as a great way to recycle.
We’ve found some magnificent pieces, some of which I still can’t believe we’ve acquired for free! The first thing we got was this old school library chair, which I re-covered in a cheap fabric from Dunelm Mill.
The best was another of my favourite upcycling projects – this amazing gramophone cabinet. Can you believe this was free?!
Online auction sites like eBay are a great place to find that extra special addition to the home. I’ll admit, I have something of an addiction to eBay! It just has everything on there. No matter what I’ve searched for, I’ve almost always found something suitable on there.
My favourite buys have been these authentic american license plates. We plan to hang them in the garden, when we finally get around to doing it up.
These vintage suitcases were also both eBay finds, which we now use to store our treasured photographs in.
We’ve also used eBay to combine our love for vintage with our love for the local area, and came across this fab retro travel poster for our nearest seaside town.
5) Family attics
Seriously, it’s amazing what some family members forget about, stuck up in their loft or in their shed. I poured through my mum’s attic looking for any interesting bits and bobs I might be able to add to our home, and to my delight I unearthed this cool typewriter, which we have given pride of place in our living room – repurposed as a sort of photo holder.
6) Personal wall art
As well as boycotting mass produced furniture in favour of more personal finds, we’re ditching the store bought canvases and wall art that have become popular in so many homes.
Instead, we’re opting to create our own wall art. One way to do this is to get your own photographs blown up to giant prints or canvasses. That way you will always have a unique picture on your wall. We took this picture of a squirrel in Central Park on Boxing Day, on our Honeymoon. To everyone else who visits, this is just a nice picture of a friendly squirrel. To us it’s a memory of how we felt, where we were and what we were doing on our honeymoon. You won’t get that with a store bought pic.
Another way we’ve made our own wall art is by framing this map we picked up in New York, alongside these metal letters we got from the Brooklyn Flea Markets. Again, mementos from our honeymoon, this mini display is so much more special to us than a simple New York canvas that we could have picked up in any cheap home shop.
So they’re just some of the ways that we’ve found unique things to help make our house a personal home.
How do you make your home personal? Share your tips and unique finds on twitter @LoveinMindBlog