For me, creating a home is all about the perfect balance of the old and the new.  I often get asked where I source the vintage stuff, so I thought it only fair to share some tips on how I go about finding treasure.  

Boot Sales

Sourcing at boot sales is actually the place to source at the lowest possible price.  A place where anything over a few pounds is deemed 'expensive'.  However because most people have sold their items through other sources such as eBay, auctions or other means, it is that bit harder to find the real gems.  You basically have to be prepared to rummage through the worst Christmas presents you can imagine, in order to find something special.  

It's the early start which also makes the difference.  I have been known to leave the house in my pyjamas, winter coat, no make-up (not something I do likely) and a pocket full of loose change.   If it is a Sunday market, they tend to start at between 7-8, however in my experience, nobody seems to take a blind bit of notice of the start time and the serious buyers arrive at around 6.30am.  The more confident buyers climb in the boot of the cars searching for stuff, personally I like to hold on to some dignity, however I do quite enjoy watching the lengths grown men will go to, just to seek out tools or vinyl.  

Often, boot sales are not that great for finding furniture, unless it needs alot of work, however it can be a great place to find ceramics, frames, artwork, jewellery and books, millions of books.  

Some of my favourite local markets.  

Country Market Borden - Sunday's

Rogate Car Boot Sale - Saturday's

Nuthill Fruit Farm Car Boot  - Sunday's

Mytchett Car Boot Sale - Thursday's & Saturday's

Ford Market

Ebay

Brilliant buys can still be found on eBay, however there are so many 'professionals' lurking in eBay, plus computer generated bidders, that it has become that much harder to secure the item you are bidding on.    

  • It is a good idea to filter by location, if you are not prepared to travel,  which helps avoid you bidding on something in Wales, which is only available for collection (I talk from experience).  Although, don't be completely put-off, as couriers are now very easy to organise and often it isn't as expensive as you may think, as there is so much competition.  
  • Buying online will always have it's drawbacks, as you can never be sure as to the quality of the item, so check out the pictures carefully and ask for more pictures if you need to.  
  • The experienced eBay'ers will tell you to avoid using round numbers when bidding, for example bidding an amount of £9.63 may make all the difference to bidding £9.50
  • Bid Automatically.   I have been successful with a number of bids, by setting up an automatic bid, however this could drive the price up unnecessarily if there are automatic bids competing against each other.
  • If like me, you don't actually enjoy the last few moments of a bid, you can snipe (an eBay term for buyers who bid at the very last minute) using an online tool.  Free sniper tools for eBay uk including Goofbid and AuctionStealer.
  • Buy it Now - Remember, if there is a buy it now price and you love the item, and it is a reasonable price, save yourself the hassle and press the button, which will automatically send a message to the seller informing them that you would like to buy it at that price

Vintage Markets

Vintage markets are a really fun way of sourcing stuff, in theory more fun than boot sales as the stuff that is being sold is generally old and with a story behind it.   Depending on the market, you can find high-end antiques to salvaged pieces. There are many markets happening all over the country.  Home & Antiques print magazine is a great option to search out markets and auctions that are happening during the next month, as they list a lot of the markets that are taking place, and you  also get the excuse to buy a magazine and sit with a cup of tea!   You can also look through the featured homes, and check out where the items have been sourced from.   Pedlars who have been in the game for a very long time, also have a market place for selling vintage. Sometime back they produced a bible listing the many flea markets that exist within Europe and the USA.  This list is pretty comprehensive, however it is subject to change as it not a document which gets updated.  This list can be found here.

Check out the iacf (International Antiques & Collectors Fairs) for the whereabouts of their fairs.

Check out antiques-atlas.com for details along with a UK location based antiques directory and online catalogue.

I Love Markets

Founder Katie Ingham created this comprehensive online guide to London Markets.

Visit Paris Flea Markets for details of their largest weekly flea market in Saint-Ouen

Salvoweb

Directory of dealers in architectural salvage, antiques and reclaimed building materials.

For a comprehensive state by state flea market directory in USA visit www.fleamarketguide.com

Online Marketplaces

So, if you don't fancy travelling halfway around Europe to find the perfect flea market, there is always the online option.  There are now many other online market places who represent sellers from around the world, so you can shop vintage from the sofa.   Be aware, that by using this option, you will obviously pay a premium. However, I recently found the perfect daybed for a room via VInterior and the process was seamless and still way cheaper than buying something new from a large manufacturer producing them out of a factory.  

Auction Houses

Auction Houses is another great way of sourcing vintage and antique pieces.  You can search locally for auctions happening near you and often the auction house will have items that you are able to submit bids for online.   That will also give you an idea of the type of items that the auction house sells, i.e. more traditional vs. more general.  

Happy Buying