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Antiques? Vintage? Know where to look and you’ll unearth treasures

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The joy of tracking down a unique gem, combined with bagging a bargain, offers plenty of incentive to go vintage. 

Factor in the sustainability credentials of shopping for pre-used items and it’s easy to see why so many of us have a passion for pieces with a story to tell.

‘Vintage furniture is going strong because, in many cases, 20th-century manufacturing processes are superior to those of today,’ believes Sandrine Zhang Ferron, founder of Vinterior (vinterior.co), an online marketplace bringing together the retro wares of more than 1,700 dealers.

Talking point: An early 19th-century Swedish cupboard transforms a hallway

Talking point: An early 19th-century Swedish cupboard transforms a hallway

‘In the 1950s, people would save for that one piece which would be cherished for a lifetime before being passed down through the generations. Now, we are finally reconnecting with the idea of an heirloom.’

One-off pieces also appeal to those who love the thrill of the chase. 

‘The beauty of salvage lies in the sheer joy to be found in discovering treasure and knowing it’s a one-off,’ says Sian Astley, renovation and interior design expert for the Homebuilding & Renovating Show (homebuildingshow.co.uk).

‘Vintage pieces are not mass-produced; you won’t see the same thing in someone else’s home or on another Instagram feed. Plus, decorative pieces often have inherent value and can be resold in later years.’

However, finding a well-crafted item, being certain that it offers value for money and knowing whether it’s authentic or repro takes a well-honed eye.

A colourful elephant fruit bowl - designed by Matthew Williamson

A colourful elephant fruit bowl – designed by Matthew Williamson

Determine your style

It helps to determine what style appeals to you, whether mid-century, modernist Scandi or decorative Victoriana, before looking in the right places, including antique shops, flea markets and vintage fairs, as well as online dealers and marketplaces. 

Bear in mind too that ‘vintage’ and ‘antique’ are not the same.

‘Just because something is described as vintage doesn’t mean it’s an authentic antique,’ says Gabriel Moukhbat, co-founder of Maison Flâneur (maisonflaneur.com), which tracks down original and one-off finds featured in hotels around the world. 

‘If there’s more than a few in the same style available, that’s a good indicator that vintage is just referring to the look, not the era it was produced in.

‘A real vintage gem shows wear and tear too. Wooden furniture also has other giveaways, like the use of multiple types of wood and dovetailing, signs of hand craftsmanship as opposed to mass production. 

You should also look for stickers and labels: early furniture makers, like artists, would date their pieces and add their name.’

Dodge big brands

‘You don’t have to go for a famous name,’ says Zhang Ferron. ‘G Plan, Ercol and McIntosh are all leading brands that regularly show up for reasonable prices.

‘Among mid-century pieces, sideboards, mirrors and rugs are still in plentiful supply.’ And there are ways to stretch the budget further. 

Moukhbat says: ‘Look for handmade or small batch furnishings, they’ve got just as much character, helping you to create a one-off look at a more affordable price.’

Get the price right

Value for money is key when it comes to finding the right piece. Items from celebrated design studios can be expensive and should always be verified.

Expect to pay upwards of £2,000 for objects by top designers. Pieces by less well-known manufacturers should be under £1,000. And don’t be afraid to haggle.

‘They are more likely to give you a better price if you don’t demand add-ons like extra restoration and uncompromising delivery terms,’ says Adam Hills, co-founder of architectural salvage firm Retrouvius (retrouvius.com).

With the current push towards sustainability in interiors, there’s never been a better time to explore vintage and recycled furniture which complement natural materials, bold prints and patterned weaves.

‘For a long time, everyone was talking about the perils of fast fashion and now vintage finally has a place in each of our homes,’ says Zhang Ferron.

What your home really needs is a … rattan lampshade 

Cottage style: Habitat’s £60 Elmley pendant shade

Cottage style: Habitat’s £60 Elmley pendant shade

The summer seasonal decor refresh used to mean scattering some bright cushions on the sofa.

But households are now opting for more extensive makeovers, involving such items as rattan lampshades (much loved by Lulu Soane, who was commissioned by Carrie Symonds to furnish the flat above No 10) to add an element of nature and the exotic to a room. 

You may be unsure whether your home needs a rattan lampshade. But it will bring a laidback the-living-is-easy vibe for a modest outlay.

Also rattan, a vine-like palm that grows in China, Indonesia and Japan, is a sustainable material. 

Habitat’s £60 Elmley pendant shade,or the £45 Margate lozenge-shaped shade would both blend in with a cottage-style or Scandinavian interior (argos.co.uk).

If you associate rattan a little too much with beach bars, you will like the elegant design of the £85 Dolkie shade from La Redoute (laredoute.co.uk).

The £69 Java from Made (made.com) is for those who think the 1970s were groovy.

And for bargain hunters, B&Q offers the Carpo shade, reduced from £34 to £18 (diy.com). Not one perhaps for Boris and Carrie but a bargain nonetheless.

ANNE ASHWORTH  

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Barings and HBD secure planning for London logistics scheme (GB)

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Barings and HBD have secured detailed planning for a strategic logistics scheme in Rainham, London, transforming a 20-acre brownfield site. The new development, Momentum London, is being delivered by Barings and HBD in a joint venture partnership. It will create 381,814ft² of new logistics and industrial space across four units ranging from 41,000 -171,000ft².

 

The scheme will target Net Zero Carbon, BREEAM “Excellent” and an EPC “A+” rating. This is being achieved by dynamic design, careful consideration of materials, zero use of fossil fuels, maximizing photovoltaic solar panels, battery storage and intelligent building systems. The units will be 100% EV ready, including passive fleet charging to the yards.

 

The logistics park will be set in landscaped environment with picnic and public areas, as well as direct access onto the Thames Cycle Path, so that it brings further social benefits to the area. Positioned on the River Thames, with potential for jetty access, Momentum will offer an easy stepping stone into Central London and out via the A13, just minutes away.

 

Darren Hutchinson, Head of UK Real Estate Transactions and Managing Director at Barings, said: Momentum London will be a strategically located logistics scheme with strong environmental and social credentials, beneficial both to future occupiers and the communities around it. Logistics is one of Barings’ preferred investment sectors and Momentum London exemplifies the kind of developments we’re seeking, with a keen interest in exploring joint ventures like this one with HBD.”

 

Simon Quine, Senior Development Surveyor at HBD, said: “Industrial and logistics space remains in very limited supply across London, particularly larger distribution units. Momentum will plug that gap within the M25 and provide modern, sustainable logistics and distribution space to serve London and the wider South East market. Landscaping and wellness have been thoroughly considered, with careful design considerations and enhancements to the Thames Foot and Cycle path, which we hope will help occupiers to attract and retain staff.”

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Mirrored furniture trend can create the illusion of space in your home

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Mirrored furniture provokes strong emotions. Some see it as the epitome of bad taste, flashy and bling. Others know that mirrors have magic powers.

A mirrored table or cabinet makes a room or a hallway appear more swish and spacious. It’s a trick that bars and restaurants employ to ensure their establishments appear roomier and more inviting — and they can add lustre to your home, too.

Choosing a piece of mirrored furniture also sends out a sign that you are aware of one of the year’s trends — the return of Art Deco, the influential style that emerged in the 1920s. 

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

It blended forms that celebrated modern machinery with decorative elements drawn from Greco-Roman culture and nature. 

The mirror was a favourite material, used on the surfaces of furniture and walls to supply a shimmering silver and gold effect.

Probably the most famous piece of Art Deco architecture is New York’s Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, its sunburst-patterned stainless steel spire remains one of the key elements of the Manhattan skyline.

Art Deco console tables, drinks trolleys and other items from the era of the building’s construction sell for thousands on auction sites such as 1stdibs underlining the growing appeal of this aesthetic. 

Jamie Watkins, the co-founder of fabric and wallpaper company Divine Savages, explains Art Deco’s allure for a new audience.

‘Art Deco, with its bold geometrical patterns was such an iconic period for design: it’s synonymous with glamour and luxury.’

The resurgent popularity of Art Deco is also based on its practicality: a mirrored piece works with almost any interior, adding interest and depth.

The power of the mirror to create a wow impression has been recognised for centuries. 

Examples of this technique include the round mirror on the wall behind the bride and groom in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Portrait in the National Gallery. It sends out the message that the couple are discerning — and wealthy.

Cheers: B&M's £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

Cheers: B&M’s £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

The hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles was designed to be a place of beauty, but also to display the financial resources of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Mirrors were a luxury item until an inexpensive manufacturing process was invented in the 1830s.

In 2022, it is possible to pick up mirrored pieces for under £100. B&M has a £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves that would lend an air of Thirties elegance to any gathering. The £94.99 Ellison serving cart (a U.S. term for drinks trolley) from Wayfair has a similar vibe.

If you believe that the right mirrored trolley would save you money on trips to bars, the larger £144.95 gold oval mirrored trolley from Melody Maison could be the thing.

A mirrored cocktail cabinet will dazzle guests. The £1,200 Primrose & Plum champagne and gold cabinet has a Jazz-Age feel.

The £299 Venetian sideboard from Furniture Market, meanwhile, is a more modestly priced way to conjure up the party spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

The show flats of apartment blocks are often equipped with mirrored cocktail cabinets containing bottles of spirits and crystal glasses. This makes buyers dream of dinner parties, with a prelude of aperitifs, but also serves to make the apartment appear even roomier.

A console table in the hall also creates an illusion of space which can be amplified by the addition of a lamp. HomesDirect365 has a range in the style of almost every era including Art Deco, Regency, the 1960s and the 1970s. Prices start at £233.

The bedroom is often the most cramped room in either a house or flat which is why this can be the best place to experiment with mirrored furniture. 

The desire to preserve family harmony is another reason. The other members of your household may prefer the kitchen and living room to be slick and understated, seeing anything mirrored as excessive.

In the bedroom, however, you can indulge your decor fantasies. Habitat has the one-drawer Hepburn bedside table for £76.

Next offers the antique effect Fleur bedside table which costs £225 for the one-drawer version and £275 for the two-drawer version. 

The Fleur is also available as a six-drawer chest for £599 or a £1,150 double wardrobe if you seek to waft around your bedroom channelling your inner 1930s Hollywood screen siren. 

Dunelm’s Venetian mirrored dressing table also offers a chance to live out your dream of silver screen stardom (£449).

If mirrored furniture has brought out your party animal, kindling a passion for Art Deco in every guise, Divine Savages offers Deco Martini wallpaper whose design is based on the geometric forms, with a hidden Martini glass within the print (£150 per roll).

Some of your guests may not be too busy checking out their reflections on the doors of the mirrored cabinet to notice this subtle and witty detail in the wallpaper.

Savings of the week! water jugs… Up to 52% off 

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

Sitting outside on a sunny afternoon is already delightful. But it is even more enjoyable if you are sipping on a cool drink or an iced coffee from a generously sized jug, or maybe even a Pimm’s. The arrival of the July sales means bargains abound.

If you prioritise practicality, Ocado’s textured lustre plastic picnic jug has 33 per cent off at £8.

The price of the pleasingly geometric plastic smoky-grey Prism jug from Wayfair is 16 per cent off at £10.10. 

If you would like to feel as if you are in the south of France, John Lewis has the plain glass Arles wicker-wrapped jug. It is reduced from £25 to £12, down 52 per cent.

Wanting something more elegant that you can also use for flowers? The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is also half-price at £22.

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VGP acquires French logistics development

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VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.

 

On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.

 

Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”

 

Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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