How to source stylish secondhand homewares, according to designer Matilda Goad

Designer and creative consultant Matilda Goad has teamed up with Oxfam homewares to share her top tips for finding stylish secondhand interiors buys. 

Sustainability is increasingly at the forefront of shoppers’ minds, and buying secondhand is one way to reduce your homeware-buying habit’s impact on the environment. But pre-loved items aren’t just good for the planet, they can also be a great way to pick up quality items for less. 

Someone who knows the power of pre-loved homeware is designer and creative consultant Matilda Goad. That’s why she’s teamed up with Oxfam to share her tips on the best items to buy from charity and vintage shops. 

Matilda Goad at Oxfam’s flagship homeware store in Oxford

She explains why she’s such a fan of scouring charity shops for unusual homeware items: “For as long as I can remember, I have always loved the thrill of seeking out unique secondhand pieces. I found so many interesting items at Oxfam that I will cherish for a very long-time to come. 

“Shopping secondhand homewares at Oxfam extends the life of items, which is important, and I like knowing I have contributed to the circular economy and helped to raise money for Oxfam’s life-saving and life-changing work.” 

While the idea of stumbling across a gem in a charity shop is great, having to rummage for your homeware bargains can be offputting for some. If that’s you, Matilda’s tips tell you exactly what to look for when shopping at Oxfam or other homeware charity shops, so you’ll be a secondhand shopping expert in no time. 

Matilda styles some of her Oxfam purchases

The charity also has an online homeware store if you’d rather browse from the comfort of your own sofa. And you don’t have to give up on shopping for new homeware entirely, as Matilda suggests a blend of old and new is the way to go. 

She says: “Personally, I think the key to a good interior is the layering of old and new, from both a practical and aesthetic point of view. I’ll often find and rewire a vintage lamp and add one of my shades on top, or source secondhand fabric to reupholster a piece of furniture.”

Matilda Goad shares her favourite items to buy from Oxfam homewares and other secondhand shops. 

Silverware

Matilda makes the case for introducing some second-hand silverware to your home

While there’s been a trend for copper and gold items, including taps, candlesticks and kitchenware, Matilda makes the case for switching things up in favour of silverware. 

“Silverware feels a little out of favour right now, and for that reason there’s plenty of it to be picked up at a great price secondhand. I am always drawn to vintage barware, for example, clam dishes for olives and cocktail shakers,” she says.

Books

If your brand new book-buying habit has gotten out of control, why not try second-hand?

If you’ve got an empty shelf and are debating doing an Ashley Tisdale to fill them up, why not pop down to your local charity shop instead? Matilda names them as one of her favourite secondhand buys. 

“There’s something quite romantic about secondhand books. I love knowing they’ve been read and enjoyed and then handed down for someone else to appreciate. I buy most of my books secondhand, at a fraction of the price, and usually with only minor wear and tear. Don’t disregard larger books or coffee table books where the jackets are damaged. Instead, simply remove to reveal a fresh new layer that’s more than fit for purpose,” Matilda advises.

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Lamps

Lamps are an inexpensive way to add a finishing touch to a book nook or living room corner

Lamps are a great way to add a touch of cosiness to an otherwise unloved corner of a room and, by mixing and matching bases and shades, you can make something unique to you, says Matilda. 

“I often find when secondhand shopping that great lamp bases will be overshadowed by the outdated shades they’re styled with. Learn to look past the shades and focus on the bases, as there are gems to be found and a lamp can be given a whole new lease of life with the addition of a fresh shade. I regularly have lamps rewired, replacing old cables for silk flex cable in a jewel tone.”

Frames

Prints, or just the frames they come in, make great second-hand buys

Photographs and prints add so much personality to a home, but if you’re a maximalist when it comes to your wall art, it can be pricey to buy quality frames to put them in. That’s why Matilda suggests stocking up at charity shops. 

“Frames are one of my favourite things to pick up secondhand. Like with a lamp, look at pictures for their frames and not just for the painting or photograph. I tend to pick up frames that I love when I come across them and store them ready for when I have the right thing to put inside.” 

Vases

Vases of all shapes, sizes and styles can be found in charity shops

Whatever Instagram’s It vase of the moment may be, you’ll almost certainly find something equally charming in a charity shop. However, Matilda explains there is one red flag you should look out for when shopping for secondhand ceramics. 

“I have a shelf at home filled with vases and vessels I have collected over the years at car boot sales, antique fairs and charity shops. There’s an abundance on offer and they always come in useful, especially the smaller bud style vases that require one single stem to make a statement. They also make great presents. My only rule is that I never buy something that’s chipped (unless easily repaired), as it will likely sit in the cupboard and remain unused.”

Images: Billal Taright

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