Finding furniture for a pint-sized pad is an art. Hours can be lost, scrolling online to find a sofa that won’t completely envelop your living room. But there is a better way. Start picking up old furniture from the side of the road, and swap online browsing for eBay bidding, and your home will quickly start to feel spacious.
Vintage and antique furniture tends to have a smaller footprint, nestling perfectly into tight corners and small rooms. Instead of dominating a space, it works with it, offering character and charm.
Now, not all vintage and old furniture is created equal when dealing with tiny spaces. Think again if you believe that Louis XIV, mahogany wardrobe will slot into a ‘double’ bedroom. So what are the key pieces you should look out for and where can you find them?
Mid-century side-boards, tall boys and chest of drawers.
Mid-century furniture works so well in small homes. Synonymous with sleek and delicate design, the streamlined frames help create that sense of space.
This chest of drawers fits perfectly between two windows, and at just 42cm deep there is still space to shimmy around the bed.
Side-boards, while significant in size, are multi-functional, doing the job of two or three pieces of furniture in one.
Stock up on stools.
The humble stool is so much more than just an extra seat around a crowded dinner table. In a small space, it can moonlight as a coffee table or nightstand when not in use. Piano stools and benches can be tucked under dressing tables with the added benefit of some extra storage.
These Ercol ones were picked up off gumtree. A lick of chalk paint and they can be tucked away until needed.
Fireside and library chairs.
Most living rooms only have room for one ‘biggish’ piece of furniture, and that’s usually the sofa. But that isn’t going to cut it if you plan on having more than one guest over at a time. While there’s an abundance of accent/armchairs on the high street, many are too deep or wide gobbling up space. Edwardian, art-deco and post-war armchairs, on the other hand, come in an array of shapes and sizes that will slot into even the most awkward of spaces. An update to the upholstery and you have comfortable additional seating, with the added bonus that your living room will no longer look like everyone else.
The idea of having a bureau or writing desk may sound very romantic, but that aside, it’s just darn practical. You get a beautiful deep workspace that can be folded away and a few extra drawers to hide all those unopened bills.
Drop leaf tables.
A drop leaf table is a perfect solution to small-space dining. When not in use it can be pushed against the wall with the flat sides ‘dropped’ and you’ll barely notice it’s there. It's the space-saving superhero!
There are loads of places to hunt for vintage and antique furniture. Beyond the usual suspects of your neighbours’ skip, eBay and gumtree; the following are great places to start (apologies for the London weighted suggestions).
If you are willing to shop around, hold your nerve at an auction and get up early to beat the crowds, the below are some of the best places to bag yourself a bargain. Just be prepared to do some basic restoration or replace the upholstery.
Sunbury Antiques Market (Kempton Park Racecourse)
Retro Hub, Stoke Newington (The yard next door has even more bargains)
Retro Zebra (mid-century goodies)
Ready to go
If you don’t want the hassle of having to refurb your furniture this lot do all the hard work for you:
Let us know if you know of any other sources, and we will add to the list.