In the first of their new column, antique experts Craig Wharton and Philip Traves share why we all need to love back-in-fashion brown furniture.
When Sherborne Antiques Market open its doors last summer, customers were greeted with a cardboard cut-out of Greta Thunberg with a slogan;
“Brown Furniture is Green!”
We have found over the last year that there is ever-increasing interest in older furniture, with antique furniture now being purchased by increasingly younger enthusiasts. Mahogany chests of drawers have become popular – and wonder with their brilliantly practical storage and with beautiful mahogany veneers. Why buy flat-pack (life expectancy ten years?) when a good 19th century chest of drawers will cost you under £500, and probably still be in use in fifty years time?
And no matter how sustainably a modern manufacturer might try and make their production process, there’s no way a new piece of furniture can compete with the carbon footprint of
a chest of drawers which was handmade over a century
ago, and has probably been in constant use ever since. It’s the ultimate ‘reduce, re use, recycle’. Georgian oak and mahogany bureaux are now beginning to sell too, with happy customers re-inventing uses for them. The last one we sold is now a sewing desk, complete with sewing machine, and full of remnants and cottons.
We paint our front window back- drops in bright modern colours, and then display period furniture against it; this has certainly shown our clients how good the furniture looks, demonstrating that it can be mixed in with contemporary living.
Your chest forgives you
Antique furniture is also more forgiving than modern light veneered furniture. When you buy a 17th century coffer it has centuries of dents, stains, burns and wear – but rather than seen as damaged, it is improved by the patina of generations. Even the more recent water stains and red wine marks are part of a long life – after a fresh wax and good polish these are just part of the long heritage of these staple pieces of our living history. Antique furniture prices generally peaked in the late 1990s, when good quality reproduction furniture was manufactured because of the huge demand for the look of a period home. Now in 2022 with ‘The Repair Shop’ being one of the most popular programs on television, antique furniture is being viewed differently. There is a newly rising demand for furniture restoration – why not restore your Grandparent’s furniture?
It has lasted over 100 years and should last another 100!
Listen to Greta – “Brown furniture is green!!”
Craig & Phil
Sherborne Antiques Market is open 7 days a week: Monday to Saturday 10 till 5, Sundays 11 till 4. 01935 713760. Find them on Instagram here