Becky Nolan from The Peanut Vendor on the appeal of vintage

Becky Nolan runs The Peanut Vendor in East London, a one-stop vintage furniture emporium full of mid-century modernist pieces. It’s a look the high street seems intent on copying, so we got her take on why the oldies are still definitely the goodies...
What's the appeal of vintage furniture?

I’ve always had old things around me as my mum is really into antiques. I love how they evoke a feeling of nostalgia, of coming from yesteryear, with a lot of history. Vintage pieces always have their own history – even a little crockery for the kitchen has been used by someone else, in another time, with another life. Plus the great thing about vintage furniture is that it’s all pretty much one-of-a-kind – there’s nothing worse than getting something from Ikea and then seeing all of your friends with the exact same piece. Modern furniture isn’t made to last in the same way either, and so it’s not often as good quality or made from solid wood, and damages far more easily.

How can you make the vintage look work?

Whatever works for you – we don’t have that many modern things at home but that’s because of my personal taste. My husband is far more into fresh design, but I pull him back towards the old. A lot of people don’t have Victorian homes or have the set up to plonk in huge pieces of antique furniture, so the odd small quirky item, such as a bookcase, can work really well. Vintage fabrics can be reconditioned and turned into cushion covers. The key is to keep it simple and classic, with real wood rather than modern wooden veneer finishes. Look out for quality.

What makes a vintage piece worth buying?

A lot of people tend to go down the route of collecting one designer, but I don’t advise it as the prices of most big names are already hugely over-inflated, and it doesn’t seem like a good investment. If you find a beautiful piece of furniture that is well looked after and you like it, then get it. Keep looking after it and its value will grow in time.

Any tips for looking after them?

Just don’t use too many products on them. I read in the National Trust book that you’re supposed to dust wood all the time and wax every year – or even every other year – with beeswax, and that’s it. Often you find things in car boot sales that are a bit grimy and need a bit of attention, in which case clean them with a very diluted solution of Fairy Liquid and warm water, and then just use a duster.

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Pip McCormac, Guest Editor

View all posts by Pip McCormac, Guest Editor