Whether furnishing for the first time or just revamping your living space one would do well to visit your local antique auction rooms to avail of fantastic value in furniture, fine art and effects.
Prices are at an all-time low for solid mahogany (mostly) furniture, handmade in the Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian eras. These classics pieces have endured the test of time and will never go out of fashion. And you don’t need a period type house either.
Chosen correctly, antique furniture can provide a signature piece or statement item to the most contemporary dwelling. And best of all if you move house or remodel at a later stage you can always return it to the auction rooms again for resale, a luxury not offered by the high street retailer.
In fact, prices of antiques started to fall during the Celtic Tiger years before the current recession for three main reasons. During the property boom first time buyers wanted (understandably) new furniture for their new abode, and a huge choice of retailers were there to oblige at reasonable cost.
Also, first time buyers generally are twenty-something’s and thus aren’t interested in the furniture of their parents or grandparents.
Then over a decade or so ago the vogue for French, white / cream style furnishing crept in followed by the arrival in this country of IKEA with its minimalist, Scandinavian sleekness. Dark oak and mahogany furniture was seriously challenged. And lastly, modern houses have lower ceilings in smaller rooms unsuited to the majestic scale of Victorian side boards and bookcases.
So pieces to look out for in particular are: occasional & side tables, card tables, ladies work tables, sofa tables and library tables. These pieces will fit either an apartment or large house, will add elegance and are practical. Remember, before purchasing seating such as chairs or sofas, these pieces have been sat on over long periods of time and thus the upholstery and frames may be weakened.
Prudence is needed before purchasing at auction. Always view an auction beforehand as this is still second hand goods and defects do exist; bring a measuring tape to make sure the piece fits in to your space at home and stick to a price limit.
The guide prices provided by the auctioneer are a good ballpark estimate but it’s so easy to get carried away in the heat of bidding especially if you’re the competitive type! And don’t forget to factor in auctioneers commission, VAT and delivery (if applicable). Happy hunting!