Did anyone see last night’s new BBC Two TV programme Cracking Antiques? Starring Antiques Roadshow expert Mark Hill and vintage dealer and interior designer Kathryn Rayward, it marked the beginning of a whole new genre of antiques programming. Finally, here is a programme that shows antiques are not just for rich people in stately homes and, equally, not just things to try and make a quick buck on - but things that can add real character, and possibly value, to a home.
The idea was simple – take one punter, Rebekah from Essex, who wanted a new bedroom in an extravagant, rococo Louis XV style. ‘It’s very me, I’m very OTT,’ she kept saying. Show her what it would cost to buy new from the high street – about £8,000 since you asked (no flatpack there). And then head out to various antiques dealers and fairs to see if they could find better for less.
Rebekah took some convincing. Fabric-covered antique bedsteads were (understandably) a no-no: ‘eeew, think of the bugs and the fluids,’ she said, while a distressed dressing table met with similar disapproval. ‘Rusty nails and scruffy paint just don’t do it for me.’ A spot of new upholstery on the bedstead and a quick lick of paint on the dressing table and she was sold though.
A trip to the Shepton Mallet antiques fair yielded more unusual finds – an extraordinary pair of early 20th century candlesticks and a run-of-the-mill, if shapely, standard lamp which Kathryn transformed with yards of feather trim and some purple spray paint. Throw a chaise longue and some vintage picture frames into the mix and the room was complete - and all for just over £3,000. Rebekah was over the moon. ‘My friends will be so envious,’ she giggled. ‘I love that no-one else will have these pieces.’ And, as Mark and Kathryn were at pains to point out – these items will last a lifetime, and should she ever want to change the look of her room, they’re far more likely to hold their value than high-street buys.
Intermingled with all this were Mark’s interesting spots on what to collect now – Czech glass and Ercol furniture are his hot tips – so get out there looking!
In short it was pretty much BBC Homes & Antiques in TV format – but then I would say that, wouldn’t I? But if you don’t believe me check out the mag and see for yourself – real homes mixing antiques, vintage and new; projects on how to revitalize a piece of junk and great features on collecting and using antiques in your home.