Green Living

5 expert tips to help you score great second-hand and vintage finds

Looking for some tips for your next vintage op-shopping adventure? Here are five things to keep in mind:


Robyn McLean’s home is filled with treasure’s she’s found on op-shopping adventures. She shares her top tips with us:

When it comes to rooting out one-off pieces for your home, you need to be prepared to put in time and effort. The great thing is though, no one else will have a house like yours. Antiques shops, thrift and junk shops, online auctions, auction houses and the white elephant at school fairs are your hunting ground.

1. Be brave and fearless. Trust yourself and believe in your taste. If you like it, does it really matter that you found it in a Salvation Army bargain bin for $2? Be prepared to invest time. Buying one-offs is more time consuming than going to the local mall and picking up one of 50 or so of the same thing. Sometimes your treasure hunting will yield nothing. Other days, you’ll score a bumper amount of stuff. That is the Zen of op-shopping and you need to go with the flow.

2. Streamline online marketplace searches. Websites such as Trade Me are rabbit holes, which is great if you have the time to see where your search takes you and going on a magical mystery tour. Otherwise, save specific searches and restrict them to your local area for bigger items and get notifications when something turns up.

3. Consider absentee bids at auctions. Not only will this potentially save you hours spent waiting for your item to come up, it also means you’ll be less tempted to give in to the thrill of needing to win an auction in person by setting a limit ahead of time.

4. Read up on your specific area of interest. If mid-century design is your passion, a knowledge of what to look out for in genuine pieces will put you one step ahead in the hunt for good examples of the era.

5. Pre-loved objects often need TLC. A good clean with sugar soap will do wonders for a lot of things but recognise the limits of your restoration abilities. Destroying a Georgian table by using a belt sander is something you don’t want to have on your conscience, so be prepared to invest in the resurrection and the expertise of a professional.

Words by: Robyn McLean. Photography by: Florence Charvin.

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