Our house in Cheltenham – or ‘Chelty’ as I alone like to call it – has been rented out, unfurnished, for the last six years while Mr Changmoh, Cost Centre #1, #2 and I have been living in Sin(gapore). We have now reclaimed it – for a short while at least – and holed up here over the Christmas holiday. Cue a massive online shopping spree for beds, sofas, tables and chairs before our arrival in mid-December.
Following copious research – well, a bit of light Googling – and after finding myself sitting next to a lovely auctioneer at a dinner party (CL-O, I salute you) I discovered that you can pick up a bunch of beautiful antique furniture from around 200 auction houses across the UK online at unbelievably good prices. As Cheltenham is not going to be my permanent home, not sinking a fortune in to furnishings seems to make a modicum of sense.
Bidding on live auctions taking place from Penrith to Penzance was what kept me up, until around 1am, most nights for the last two weeks before I went away. I loved that I was sitting in at my kitchen table in tropical Singapore, while most other bidders were wasting time by being at the various auctions in person or at the very least – I liked to imagine – wearing thick polonecks and complaining about British weather.
Slowly, just before our UK arrival, a steady stream of furniture, china, glasswear and cutlery turned up at our house from all corners of England. It has been lovely to finally meet them all, some of which are wondrous, others which I am ambivalent about and luckily only one that is truly heinous.
We have an Art Nouveau mahogany sofa and two matching chairs – all from Peter Wilson Auctions in Cheshire – which get a massive tick.
They look great against the misty grey of the sitting room wall:
There’s a very comfy Regency mahogany sofa (below) that we got for around the £200 mark (vs a modern one from Heals that would probably cost something in the region of £2,500). It’s from a similar period to the house, which was built in the late 1820’s. At that price, as you can probably imagine, I feel a deep satisfaction whenever I sit down. It came from Penrith:
I love my teak planter chair which reminds me of Singapore (£60) – via Criterion Auctions in London. It should be in the conservatory but the room was just too bl**dy cold to sit in.
We also snaffled an antique antique French walnut double bed from the Cotswold Auction Company in Gloucester; a blood red three-seater Chesterfield from Droitwich of all places, (£200) a set of brass fire irons from Cirencester (£40; just seen in the very first picture, to the right of the Christmas tree and leaning against the fireplace)…and a few more things besides.
You do have to remember to factor in the tax as well as the buyer’s premium and of course, any delivery charges for each lot that you win. My best buy on the delivery front was these William Adams designed Chinese patterned meat platters (front left) – great for parties and general Christmas fare – that I bought from an auction house in Derbyshire. I got chatting to the lady, Julie, who happened to answer my call and not only discovered that she used to live in Singapore but that she was visiting friends in Cheltenham the very weekend we arrived back.
She bought them to me at no extra charge as well as a whole lot of glasses.
Here’s to having plates to eat off, glasses to drink out of and beds to sleep in this Christmas time.
Wishing you all a very happy New Year!