Friday, September 9, 2011

The Retro

I'm sitting in my new living room after everyone else in the family has gone to sleep thinking about all of the second hand goodies that we've collected in the 18 months that we've been in Australia.

To my left is a vintage teak Parker cocktail cabinet that we bought for $60 from a Vinnie's store in Wollongong. To my right is an $8 armchair that I bought off ebay. Next to that is a noguchi style coffee table that we got off the side of the road. Around the corner is a 70s Chiswell table that I found for $30.  All of that sounds like an awful lot of retro doesn't it? Here's a picture of our main living room which will show you how you can incorporate a bit of vintage into your room without looking like you live in a second hand store. All of our rooms are done on a tight budget and we rarely buy anything new.

In this room we have a few vintage pieces but we've balanced them out with some new items. The sofa is new but from a discount store and was bought for a bargain price. The rug on the floor was $49 from Ikea. The black and white cushion was from Target. The paintings on the wall are from our trip to Vietnam and they're framed in Target frames which were $15 each. The Parker is on the right and we've used white ornaments to link to the rug and our newest addition, a 1950s china cabinet.

Here is our $30 1970s Chiswell table with some $14.95 Ikea chairs around it. One of the easiest ways to incorporate a bit of vintage into your house is to buy a classic old table and surround it with modern chairs.

Parker cocktail cabinet found at Vinnie's for $60

Freebie coffee table that we're using as an occasional table.

Yesterday my husband and I went off on one of our favourite adventures. We were looking for something to use as a TV cabinet, but we didn't want a TV unit, we wanted something cool. We mapped out our route planning to hit 3 or 4 thrift shops before school pick up. At shop number two (which was a dud) we found ourselves across the road from thrift store heaven. It was a huge surplus store with ridiculously low prices. I found an old wooden crate from 1958 with SYDNEY printed on it that I really wanted but had no space for. My son loved the old wheels and telephones. There were tables and tapestry chairs, shelves and sideboards. Eventually we found what we were after, a 1950s display cabinet with glass sliding doors. It was even small enough to fit in the tight space we had for it.

The Irish owner was good fun. He saw our selection, nodded his head approvingly, then said "So, you're liking The Retro then?". We do like The Retro. We like it a lot.

$25 and two cans of white spray paint later we have a new TV cabinet. We've left the timber legs and veneer strip around the frame and have painted the door, top, and sides. It had a quick primer first using Zinsser odourless undercoat.

Incorporating The Retro into your home is easy and cheap. A good vintage piece will cost you a fraction of a new item from Harvey Norman or the like and it will retain it's value.

Here are my tips to get you started:

1. Have a browse through some design magazines to see what you like, or join and let your imagination go wild.  Do you like 1960s teak or do you prefer the loud colours of the 1970s?

2. Google and ebay are your friend. Have a look at vintage pieces online. Check out Kartell, Parker, Chiswell, Noguchi, Eames.

3. Think about the function of your furniture and be creative. Your TV doesn't HAVE to go in a dedicated entertainment unit. You can remodel a china cabinet, small wardrobe, or cocktail cabinet and it'll do the same job while looking great.

4. Once you know what you like, map out the vintage stores in your area and make a day of it. Check ebay or your local secondhand websites regularly.

5. Don't overdo it. One or two vintage pieces in a room is probably enough. Make sure you balance it out with some new items and don't be scared to mix and match. My $8 armchair has an Ikea throw and a yellow cushion that I made out of upholstery fabric on it.

6. Tie it all together. My living room is linked by the use of yellow, grey, and white. Put something that links with the other items in your room on your vintage piece of furniture so that it looks like a cohesive design.


  1. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information. I'll definitely add this great post in my article section.
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  2. Thank you mikaljains for your lovely comments!


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