How to buy furniture at auction like a pro

Following on from my blog post last week about what to expect when buying furniture at auctions, here are some very important tips you should know before embarking on your bargain shopping spree at your local auction house…

Measure up! I have a little notebook I take around with me everywhere with all the important dimensions of our home in.  You never know what you’re gonna find on that day, so although you might go in thinking, I need a desk that is ‘xyz’, you may get there and find a gorgeous mirror and end up wondering what the heck is the distance between ‘abc’ instead.  I asked, Catherine Hockley, director of our local auction house, Andrew Smith & Son, to share some tips on finding something that is the right fit for you: “Our salerooms are very large and so some items look small in them – always bring a tape measure, or borrow one from us, and make sure that the item you are bidding on will fit through your door or up your stairs.”

She also goes on to say, “Check the condition well before you buy, for wobbly legs or sticking drawers etc.  Most things can be easily mended, but make sure it is within your capabilities or you will end up paying for restoration.”

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11 steps to buying furniture at a real-life auction

How to buy furniture at auction like a pro

After my popular post last week about how we’ve furnished our home on a budget, I’ve had so many questions about all the auction bargains we’ve collected over the years that I thought it necessary to write up a little guide so that you can start buying amazingly priced, but beautiful, good-quality furniture for your homes too.  In a poll created on my Instagram stories, 87% of you shared you have never bought anything at auction which shows it is a massively underused tool amongst our generation.  Despite the gracious words of my husband… “as long as they don’t all start coming to our one and bidding against us for the good stuff”, I’ve decided to utilise that old cliché of ‘sharing is caring’… so here are the basic steps for how it works logistically which I hope will give you the confidence to explore this option further…

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How to furnish your home on a low or non-existent budget

How to furnish your home on a low budget - girls kids bedroom

Does anyone else love those kinda interior articles where they pick an expensive ‘investment piece’ and then source a budget option that is often very similar?  I love it when magazines and bloggers try to make their content accessible to people like us who have a realistic budget and can’t blow the families’ winter shoes and coat budget on a new lamp.

Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated though, because even the ‘budget option’ makes my debit card quiver with anxiety, which, all things considered, is a bit unfair on the author really.  Everything is relative and they can’t please everyone.  I’m sure spending £179 on a coffee table IS a budget option for someone, and, in a similar vein, when I suggest spending £40 on a coffee table as a bargain, others may disagree with me too.

With that in mind though, I’d love to let you know about some of our own resources for spending less money as well as sharing a few of our mistakes so you can learn from them…

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The best way to get smarter storage in your small house

Before we bought ‘The Otto House’ we rented a large, detached three-bedroom house with an enormous studio in the garden.  Like many here in the South of England we had to downsize to get on the property ladder so storage has always been a bit of an ongoing challenge.  I am a curtain-maker by trade and not only used the old garden studio for making curtains but also for hoarding HEAPS of fabric, wallpaper, paint, magazines, books and anything else remotely crafty.  It was like a creative paradise to me and something which I am sure I will never have again, but I am so very grateful for the two glorious years I spent stitching away in there whilst the sun streamed through the double doors.  (And the winters spent in a coat, hat and gloves bent shivering over my sewing machine, but, you know, that sounded less poetic!)

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The little mistakes we made when rushing our renovation (& how we learnt from them)

Renovation Jobs To Do List

As first time home owners there are certainly many things you have to consider that I’d never even thought of before.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am really happy with the overall finish and we certainly have made a huge aesthetic transformation to what we started with, but there are some aspects of our renovation that I would do differently if I could.

So, firstly, why the rush?!

We were living in rented accommodation and managed to get a three week overlap where we could live in the comfort of one home, whilst drastically changing the next.  Most of the work required was dusty and messy and in a small two-bed, we knew there would be no ‘give’ once we’d moved us, a baby, and all our stuff in, so we really needed it to be liveable and child-safe by the end of those three weeks.

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8 Tips for Completing DIY Around Young Children

How to do DIY with young children

People often ask us how on earth we do it all whilst looking after the children and to be honest with you, there is no magic answer.  There is no wand that turns a dingy and dated hallway into a new fresh, practical and modern entrance unless you’re willing to put in the hard work (or hard-earned cash).  Whilst we don’t have much of the latter, we have attempted (and completed) many DIY jobs around the house so here’s a few tips that we’ve learnt along the way…

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How we Exposed a Brick Wall, so YOU can too!

How to do an exposed brick wall

Two of the things that get the most comments over on my Instagram @theottohouse are our bathroom tiles and this exposed brick wall.  It really was so very simple to do and at next-to-nothing cost, is a great way to add character to a room on a low budget, but despite that we still felt pretty intimidated by the job and almost didn’t go for it.  Do you have similar apprehensions? Read on to see how we did it and how we feel about living with exposed brick, one year on.

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