Today, we are joined by Melbourne-based “super declutterer” and thrifty decorator Alexandra Ganipeau of The Roaming Atelier.
Through working with her clients to sort and style their homes, along with her long-held love of all things vintage, Alexandra has learnt where to source incredible pieces, full of character, that are easy on the wallet. So let’s hear her top five tips for turning what is often another person’s junk into our idea of treasure!
In my line of work, I have visited more homes than I can remember and always, the ones that seem to stand out are ones in which I can truly sense the personal style of the owner. One of my favourite ways to show that unique touch is by adding some vintage or one-of-a kind piece to your décor.
Once you have all the essentials, it is time to bring character into your home Most people tend to shy away from buying second hand furniture as they find the task overwhelming and maybe a little confronting. It is important not to overdo it, just add touches to start with, like an old chair, a frame or an antique basket.
So let me guide you to become an expert hunter of all things old and unique to give your décor that je ne sais quoi that will enhance the visual aspect of your place.
1. Op shops
These are my go to whenever, wherever. Every suburb has many and they are full of treasures. I never go in with any hope or any specific. Whenever you drive by one, take 10 min and walk in, have a browse. You will be surprised. I haven’t really found many pieces of furniture in op shops, but instead endless treasures like old maps, and frames, books as well as old kitchen wares, which I have a bit of a thing for.
2. Ebay and Facebook Marketplace.
This is great when you are looking for something specific in your area… It is that simple, fast and local.
Most of my furniture was purchased on Ebay. I am not a gambler at all but I have enjoyed the thrill of a bid, I must say! Download the app on your phone, have a look whenever it suits you and you can “watch” an item for a while before you decide to bid or make an offer directly. Sometimes you can even “buy it now” and ask questions to the seller.
3. The streets
My husband still cringes when I make him stop the car to look at something that has been left on the street.
He cringes even more if I decide we must absolutely rescue that treasure and take it home. You would not believe the beauties people discard. So next time you see an item, don’t ignore it, it could be your next favourite old thing.
4. Auction houses
You will most likely find treasures there, but it does require a little bit more organisation. Your local auction house will have an open day for inspecting items that will be sold the next day. Pop in on your way back from work or during your lunch break, take notes and photos then decide whether you want to bid on that item or not. The good news is that you don’t have to be part of the bidding war! I find the auction day quite intimidating so I usually give my maximum bid on line or at the counter when I leave. It is a simple and effective way to buy any second hand or antique in good condition.
5. Flea Markets
The French in me cannot resist a Flea Market- this must be in my DNA. The older, the dustier the better!
Oh, I could walk around these market for hours in search of that perfect new find. For a successful flea market trip, make sure you get up early, really early and be ready to negotiate. This is half the fun actually, even my kids have become experts at this. Some markets are held every week, and others monthly. My favourite ones are those I find in the country on very cold winter Sunday mornings if we escape for a weekend.
Finally, keep an open mind when you shop for vintage, antiques pieces and curios. Try not to have too much of an idea of what you are after – it is best to let that perfect item find you instead. Before you know it, you will be able to find that needle in the haystack in a very short amount of time.And don’t forget, recycling and upcycling are a great way to keep your budget under control as well as being ultra eco friendly. What is not to love about this?
Photography by Kate Collingwood.