My 5 Top Places To Shop For Affordable Retro Interiors
I am a big fan of retro interiors. I refer to my own personal interior style as 'Eclectic Modern Retro' as I feel those three words sum up our home style perfectly; lots of colour and pattern clashing mixed with modern high street buys and retro furniture and homeware. Even though that's my signature style, I love perusing photographs of homes that go all out with their love of retro and I've seen amazing homes that make you feel as if you've stepped into the 1960's which is such a cool look to pull off.
For a long time, vintage fashion has been really popular and places like Brick Lane in London are filled with retro clothes stores, such as Beyond Retro and Absolute Vintage, where you can pick up original 50's dresses, 60's handbags and 40's suits. But more recently, retro homeware and furniture have become more desirable and it's a market that is now equally as big, if not bigger.
Retro furniture is definitely an investment but I often hear of friends paying a fortune for something that I know I could have found much cheaper for them! So, I thought I'd do a round-up of where I think are the best places to source retro interiors. Have a read through my list and you might just be able to find that perfect and affordable retro sideboard or vintage bar cart that you've been looking for!
Number one has to be Ebay! For me, a perfect Sunday evening is sitting in front of the fire with a glass of wine perusing Ebay for retro interiors. If you're not looking for anything in particular, did you know you can just look through the Vintage & Collectables section on Ebay? If you go to Categories > Collectables > Vintage & Retro Collectables then you can either look at all or search by one or more era's. I personally select the 50's, 60's and 70's era's and often find some great items that I wouldn't necessarily have searched for.
If you do know what you're looking for on Ebay, for example a G Plan sideboard, and what you're looking for doesn't come up or they're all too expensive when you search, then try other ways to search such as 'teak sideboard', 'sideboard', 'retro sideboard', 'vintage sideboard' etc. Sellers don't always list or know exactly what they're selling so you may find a cheaper option by not searching for exactly what you're looking for.
Another way of finding a potential bargain is when people spell their listings incorrectly! There is a site called Fat Fingers where you can put in what you're looking for and it will take you to all the listings with incorrect spelling on Ebay!
You can also set up alerts on Ebay, if you're looking for a particular item, so you can be one of the first to know as a new item gets listed. Also if you're not free to bid on an item when it ends, you can use sites such as Gixen, where you put in the highest you want to bid and it will automatically bid for you during the last sale moments.
MY BEST BARGAIN ON EBAY: Our 1950's boat cocktail bar which I won for £75 because the seller forgot to put a reserve on it and honoured the price I bid!
Gumtree is a classified ads site and you can search for items for sale in the location that you're in. This is great as you know if you find the perfect item, it's going to be relatively close-by and easy to collect or cheap to have it delivered. I searched for 'retro chair' in 'Manchester' and 20 listings came up and as you can see, they're all pretty affordable.
MY BEST BARGAIN ON GUMTREE: A retro sideboard in our snug which I won locally in Manchester and it cost £45 including delivery!
3. CHARITY SHOPS
Number 3 has to be one of my favourite places to shop for vintage and retro, as so many items in our house have come from charity shops! Charity shops are great as it's a place for you to donate items you no longer want with those items going on to new homes and money going towards very worthwhile charities in the process. In our local area, people seem to give away A LOT of rattan and bamboo vintage furniture. And those items end up in our home (much to my husband's distaste!).
Charity shops are also great for cool books to style up on shelves and classic records where you can pop the sleeve in a record frame and hang on the wall.
Aswell as the more standard charity shop, there are often hospices which have big warehouse spaces selling furniture only. These are generally very reasonably priced and if you're just looking for some bigger furniture items then it's great to see what is available in your area.
MY BEST CHARITY SHOP BARGAIN: I've got to go rattan for this and it would have to be my amazing vintage peacock chair which cost £30!
4. VINTAGE/RETRO STORES & FAIRS
Now, this is of course a more obvious place to look for retro interiors but these are the sort of places you are likely to find a real vintage gem. It really depends on the store and the fair, but I've been in a lot of retro stores and visited lots of retro fairs, and despite the shop manager or stall holder really knowing what's they're selling, you can still find a bargain.
Some sellers are just reasonably priced anyway and don't want to rip you off, whilst others might have had an item for ages and be offering a cheaper price to sell it more quickly. Also if you are visiting a vintage fair near the end of the day, sellers are likely to want to take less home with them and be more open to doing a deal, and I always find it's worth asking if they will sell the item you want for any less as the worst they can say is no! I personally quite like a bit of a haggle but I know some people do find this a bit embarrassing (my husband is one of them!).
Have a look at what local independent stores there are in your area and go and visit them. In the Stockport area of Manchester, there is a wonderful old Mill called Pear Mill which houses The Vintage Emporium and this is an amazing space filled with independent traders selling retro homeware, furniture and clothing.
Some independent stores have social media where they upload new items as they come in so it's worth checking them out so you can keep a look out for a particular item. A couple of my personal favourite retro inspired Instagram accounts to peruse are @helloretro71, who sells some beautiful retro pieces at really good prices and will post items too, and @homeplaceonline, who sell a great mixture of contemporary and retro pieces.
My favourite retro fair is the Vintage Home Show which comes to Manchester's Victoria Baths (where we got married!) a few times a year and travels around Manchester, Leeds and The Midlands.
MY BEST RETRO STORE BUY: This has to be a brass and smoked glass cocktail trolley from The Vintage Emporium which cost £20! It's one of my favourite pieces in our home.
5. LOCAL FACEBOOK GROUPS & EVENTS
Now, you of course need to be on Facebook to access Facebook groups but it's worth setting up an account just to be able to do so. In Manchester, I've bought various retro homeware items off local Facebook sites and everything is always reasonably priced.
How it usually works is that whoever comments on an item first has first refusal to buy that item and a price is usually listed or you can make an offer. Sometimes people even giveaway items for free! Usually you need to go and collect the item but some people will deliver or you can organise your own delivery company.
Search in your area in Facebook Groups and see what exists and often groups are labelled with such titles as 'for sale or swap', 'sales, swaps, freebies', 'buy, sell or swap', 'buy and sell' etc. It's also a good place to get rid of any old furniture or homeware items you don't want yourself!
Another great local way of finding retro bargains are car boot sales. This is often the place you'll find really cheap items as often people just want to get rid of stuff quickly and don't necessarily know what they're selling! Have a look at what's on in your area - car boot sales are often held in school grounds, cricket club grounds, car parks etc so it's worth having a look on noticeboards in your area to see what's coming up.
MY BEST LOCAL FACEBOOK GROUP BUY: A teak retro sideboard which cost £60 delivered!
I hope this has helped any retro interior fans out there and if you buy anything as a result of my tips then I'd love to know in the comments below!