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Painted Bottles and Vases – Make this stylish accessory for your home…

Bottle Beauties

Today, I’ll be showing you how to create a stylish but inexpensive accessory for your home. These beautiful vases and bottles are the perfect way to display single stem or spray flowers in your home and are also a lovely way to decorate a dinner table or a party centre-piece…

Pastel shades are perfect for Spring

– Enamel or acrylic paint in your chosen colour
– Glass bottles or jars
– Plastic tub
– Syringe and funnel (optional)

I began by collecting old bottles and jars. I went through in the kitchen and simply recycled. The bottles in the photograph once held everything under the sun: jam, olive oil, ketchup, wine, salsa, spices, etc. Or, have a hunt in your local charity shop, as pretty vintage bottles can be picked up for a few pence.

You can create different colours for your bottles or vases by mixing different shades of paint together. These vibrant pink, orange and yellow shades would be perfect for Autumn…

Pink, orange and yellow tones would be perfect for an Autumn display

Wash the bottle inside and out with soapy water; allow to dry.
Pour in a small amount of your chosen shade of enamel paint. Using a syringe to draw the paint out of a tub and pouring it into the jar through a funnel makes it much easier!
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Dry bottle upside down on a paper towel for 48 hours, periodically wiping excess enamel from the rim with a damp cloth during the first hour.

Wedding Centre Pieces & Table Decorations


These would look fantastic in a line down a dining room table or grouped together at different heights for an inexpensive wedding centrepiece. You can even use glitter nail polish to coat the inside of the glass – a great way to continue a colour theme for a party or event – and ideal for a little Christmas sparkle!

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How to Buy Vintage and Retro Furniture

Furnish your home in style and on a budget!

Many people are nervous about buying “second hand furniture”, but buying vintage and retro pieces is a fantastic way of  furnishing your home in a style that’s completely your own and which reflects your personality. It’s also a great way of furnishing a home on a budget as this furniture is often a fraction of the cost of similar items found on the high street.  Re-cycling or up-cycling is also great for the environment. Not only that, but vintage homewares have become fashionable, sought-after, designer pieces. We believe that items with history bring individuality and life to a home. It’s also great fun hunting for vintage furniture and nothing beats the thrill of finding a real gem that you’ll treasure forever. So, how do you decide on the right piece, what price you should pay and where do you actually go to buy these pieces?

Vintage & Retro Furniture allows you to create a home with real personality

Where to buy vintage and retro furniture

You can find amazing vintage and retro pieces in any number of places. Auction houses, house clearances, and on-line sites such as Ebay, Freecycle or Gumtree are good places to start… If you have a weekend free, head off to your local car boot sale where there are bargains galore, or visit your local salvage yard. Second hand furniture shops in your area are also a great source for furniture. Get to know the staff and they’ll often keep an eye out for pieces and you get to hear about items before everyone else. Charity shops have also started to stock vintage furniture and they’re also worth scouring for accessories. It also amazes me what people will throw into a skip – as the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, but if you see something, always ask permission to take it away. Finally, there are a number of Vintage & Retro Fairs which are held regularly all over the country – here you will find a range of traders offering everything under one roof, plus it’s a great day out!

Top Tips for Buying Vintage & retro Furniture

1. Consider the era..

It’s important to remember that you are not just buying any old furniture, you need to think about the look you want to create and an era that reflects this, be it the 1930’s, 1950’s or 1980’s.. Perhaps you love the psychadelic colours of the 1960’s and pop art or  the soft curves and shapes of art deco pieces. The web can provide lots of inspiration as do homes and interiors magazines. To qualify as real vintage, items should be at least 30-40 years old. Anything later is second-hand and anything older than 100 years is considered antique.

2. Make sure it fits

Before you go shopping for any item, consider the space in which it will sit. The size of rooms and the dimensions of entrance ways or the stairs are extremely important. Always take a tape measure with you – you will be spending hard-earned money for your furniture and there is nothing worse than finding exactly the right piece and then being disappointed because it doesn’t fit.

3. Think about how you will get your furniture home

I have learned this the hard way. I recently bought a beautiful teak sideboard during an on-line auction and then realised I actually had no way of bringing it home! My long suffering partner spent three days organising a roof-rack for his father’s estate car and we had to pray that it wouldn’t be ruined by April showers on the way home. Some sellers will offer delivery for a small fee, but always check first!

Organise transport in advance!

4. Look for quality pieces

Ideally you are looking for furniture with “good bones.” Generally, wooden items such as vintage tables, chairs, cabinets, dressers, chests of drawers and coffee tables last better than upholstered furniture. Just because it is old doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality is great. Try to avoid furniture made with inferior materials and with poor workmanship.

ondition is the most important aspect in determining value. If you want to make sure your furniture is not going to fall apart in the next couple of months don’t buy on impulse. Instead, take your time and inspect each piece thoroughly. If it’s made of quality wood, with good joints and a good bonding glue you’re going to buy the furniture with confidence, not with fear.

Use it first – Since you won’t be able to see the most important parts, you should test the furniture first. Lean on tables and tip back chairs. If it’s a sofa make sure the frame is not altered so go ahead, squeeze the arms and chairs and even extend it to make sure those metallic parts are working fine.

5. Check the condition

Condition is the most important aspect in determining value. If you want to make sure your furniture is not going to fall apart in the next couple of months don’t buy on impulse. Instead, take your time and inspect each piece thoroughly. If it’s made of quality wood, with good joints and a good bonding glue you’re going to buy the furniture with confidence, not with fear. Lean on tables and tip back chairs. If it’s a sofa make sure the frame is not altered and even extend it to make sure those metallic parts are working well. Examine furniture closely to check for live woodworm, damage or repairs. Drawers should run smoothly  and frames should be sturdy. If a piece does have damage, consider whether you have the skills to undertake the repair and obviously any damage should be reflected in the price.

6. Don’t be afraid of stains and scratches

This buy viagra without prescription is especially true of wooden or teak furniture. Wooden furniture can often be sanded down to remove layers of dark wood stain. In terms of teak furniture, there are a number of products on the market which can help – the staff at your local DIY store can be a source of great advice.  And if it’s a truly iconic piece, you can always have it professionally re-finished – especially if you bought at a bargain price to start with..

7. Consider Re-Upholstering

If you find a beautiful Victorian armchair or a set of retro dining chairs that look past their best, don’t be put off.  If you are shopping for vintage furniture which does need re-upholstering, be sure to build in the costs of fabric as it can be expensive. However, often it is still cheaper than buying a new armchair from high street retailers such as Laura Ashley or John Lewis and being able to choose your own fabric will make it a unique piece for your home.

8. Up-Cycle It…

Keep an open mind in terms of how things can be adapted to suit your home and you colour schemes . Wooden furniture can be hand-painted and metal pieces can often be sandblasted and re-sprayed. Old cupoards or chests of drawers can be easily re-vamped. Why not line drawers or old vintage suitcases with your favourite vintage wall paper or fabric to give it a completely new lease of life.. Farrow & Ball or Annie Sloan Paints can be used to create Shabby Chic pieces which you can distress to create that time worn finish in no time at all. Here’s an example of a beautiful shabby chic dining set which we up-cycled transforming a dark oak set with an original French Toile du Jour fabric. Check out your local college or shabby chic retailers, as they often offer courses…

Antique oak dining set up-cycled using Annie Sloan paint & Toile due Jour fabric
Basic upholstery is quite simple…

9. Don’t be afraid to mix and match

You don’t have to stick rigidly to pieces from one particular era or in one particular style. Creating interesting combinations is what adds character to your home. Different items in a similar mood can look better than trying to match everything together. In the photo below I love the mix of softer vintage pieces such as the glass lamps combined with the industrial furniture. Or, why not try an antique kitchen table with mis-matched chairs? This can look fabulous and can save you a small fortune.. Purchasing individual pieces that work well together is the perfect way to create you own style for your home.


An industrial Chic Masterclass at

10. A tip for the future…

Vintage eiderdowns, crochet blankets and galvanised metal for the garden allow you to create a vintage feel. Ercol furniture is becoming increasingly rare as are names such as G-Plan. Don’t be put off by paying higher prices for such items as they will become investment pieces of the future. Industrial, shop and school furniture  such as lockers are increasingly on trend.

Buying vintage gives you the opportunity to really put your own stamp on things – so go forth and shop!

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The Story of Bee’s Knees – How we started our vintage and retro furniture business…

I’m a Celebrity! (well almost…)

Exciting news here at The Bees Knees Furniture! We ‘re delighted to be able to share our first piece of official publicity with you all today 🙂  Our local paper, the Swindon Advertiser visited us recently to interview us about how we started our fledgling furniture business two years ago during the recession, and how we’ve kept it growing against all the odds!

Read the article here

Growing our Small Business…

Building a successful business is typically done by trial and error, with many hurdles along the way. And when it’s your first company, every day involves making mistakes and learning something new.

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We literally started by learning to master the shabby chic style of furniture. With a corner of our living room allocated as a workspace and newspapers spread out on the floor, the adventure began…  A whole dining set later, and we needed to know would people like what we’d produced? We decided to list it for sale on Ebay and see what happened… I remember watching the bids mount and my partner Andy buying me bubbly at the end of the auction to celebrate our first official sale 🙂

French Salon Chair in gorgeous Tole du Jour Fabric

Retro & Vintage Furniture – A Whole New Direction…

We grew the business slowly to avoid costly mistakes, and eventually ventured to our first Vintage and Retro Fair. The feedback we received about our pieces was amazing and we were suddenly part of a fabulous new community of people.Then came the exciting prospect of developing a website and mastering social media (gulp!) Learning about the era of retro furniture has taken us in a whole new direction.

Scandinavian Style

Despite the hurdles we’ve faced along the way, The Bee’s Knees is thriving and the future looks bright…

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How To Up-Cycle A Retro Dining Set

Creating that 1950’s style…

Today at the Bees Knees, we’d like to share this up-cycling project.. This little retro gem was advertised on Ebay and we bought it for the grand sum of 99p! After researching the piece, it turned out to be a rare 1950’s Clarion Dining  Set by Steelux of London.  Here’s a step by step tutorial which we hope will inspire you to have a go at something like this yourselves…











Step 1: We cleaned the table with a mixture of warm soapy water and bleach as it had been stored in an outbuilding and was covered in cobwebs!

Step 2: We removed the old plastic vinyl from the chairs (being careful to rescue the original cardboard Steelux liners which were attached to the underside of the chairs (see photo). If you are planning to sell a retro piece such as this, buyers or collectors will want to know it’s authentic..

Step 3: We protected the original black trim on the table with masking tape and then sprayed the surface with a layer of primer. This was followed by several coats of Plasticote Satin in a suitably fabulous shade of retro inspired “Baby Blue.” This can easily be purchased from DIY stores or Hobbycraft for around £7.50 for a can, which is enough for several projects. Be sure to work in a well ventilated space (preferably outside) and wear a mask. Stand well back from the surface you are spraying and spray the paint in several thin layers, allowing each plenty of time to dry.

Step 4: We then applied a fresh coat of White Satin Eggshell paint to the tubular frames of both the chairs and the table. Once dry, we than applied masking tape to the areas above the plastic feet and painted each of the feet in a black satin paint.

Sourcing Vintage & Retro Fabrics…

Step 5: It was then time turn our attention to the seats. We found this fabulous 1950’s inspired floral kitsch fabric at a vintage and retro fair. You can also search for fabric from particular eras on Ebay.

A 1950’s inspired kitsch floral fabric was the perfect choice..

For comfort, we then cut pieces of wadding to the size of each chair seat and chair back and glued this in place. Placing a square of fabric right side onto the floor, we then positioned the seat pad (wadding side down) onto the fabric. We placed the original Steelux cardboard liner on top, and used upholstery tacks to secure the fabric neatly to the underside of the seat.

It was important to retain these cardboard liners as they featured the manufacturer’s mark.

Step 6:We cut fabric to size for the chair backs and this was neatly hand sewn into place. Finally, the seat pads and seat backs were re-attached with the original screws.

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And there you have it, a completely unique and bespoke piece which would grace any vintage/retro inspired home 🙂