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It’s well-known in my circle of friends that I have an eye for a bargain when it comes to finding designer clothing and footwear. Think you can’t afford runway fashion without remortgaging your house? Think again – I know where to look…The thing is, after over a year of lockdown life, those glamorous gowns and high-end heels have been gathering dust in my wardrobe. So, my focus has turned instead to making my home as fabulous as my now-slightly-irrelevant fashion finds.

My husband, two teenage children and I live in a 1920s detached house in Surrey. Truth be told, we probably pushed our budget a bit too far to get the house with the most potential in one of the nicest neighborhoods we could find. Renovating the house is taking years and, while we save up for that open-plan kitchen of our dreams, we don’t want to spend thousands on new furniture, or we may never get there.

But I don’t want to sacrifice on style while we wait. Cue a newfound appetite for auction sites and community social groups where one woman’s junk could well be this woman’s steal. Read on for the best things I’ve learned…

1. Set alerts to get ahead of the game

We all know eBay Link opens in a new window is a great place to start and I’ve had some real success stories there, including my most recent purchase, a cream Falcon range cooker – bought for £700 instead of the £3,800 price tag for a new one. I’d been looking for over six months, as our current oven is literally falling apart. Range ovens are a bit like cars – they depreciate as soon as you’ve cooked your first roast, but a good one should last 30 years so a nearly-new top end range is infinitely better than a brand-new budget oven in my opinion.

Louise’s top tips

Set alerts on auction sites for the items on your wish-list. For eBay, simply, search for the items you’re interested in, when the results show click ‘Save this search’ to turn on email and phone alerts and you’ll be notified when new listings are available. Also, make an offer to a seller rather than wait for the auction to end. Many sellers want to get rid of items as much as they want to make money.

Louise’s Falcon range cooker.
Louise’s Falcon range cooker that she saved £3,100 on

2. Make friends with Facebook

One of my most meaningful home bargain love affairs is with local Facebook Marketplace Link opens in a new window groups. By following We Love Reigate, Redhill and Reigate Facebook Sellers Group and some Facebook seller groups in affluent areas in London I’ve been able to save thousands. I’d been coveting a friend’s deep blue velvet sofa for an age and came close to buying one from a well-known sofa brand when someone told me about the local community selling groups. A few failed attempts later (I was gazumped on a gorgeous teal number which broke my heart) I found The One languishing in the Hampton home of a seller who had a newborn baby. They had come to realise velvet and colicky babies are an awful combination and I made a saving of over £2,000 based on the new price of said sofa and seriously lovely matching ottoman. The same week I nabbed an unwanted mirror which was going for free on a local Facebook seller page, as well as my lovely linen white armchair with studs, which was just the trick for my dining room as a reading chair.

Louise’s top tips

Ask for more photos if few are provided on the ad and don’t be afraid to ask to come and view items local to you. And if it’s not local, do factor in the cost of postage/delivery, especially for heavy items, or your bargain could turn out to be costly. Shiply Link opens in a new window is a great website to get removal/delivery quotes from.

A velvet navy two-seater sofa.
The velvet navy two-seater bargain in all its glory
A white reading chair.
The perfect reading chair was just round the corner – literally

3. You can get gorgeous things on Gumtree

Gumtree Link opens in a new window is a great option if you don’t care to bargain a la eBay and I’ve found the quality of items a bit higher than on some other websites. We acquired a solid cherry wood wardrobe for £400 (this would have cost £3,000 new) and my shabby chic oak dining table from Twickenham cost me just £80. I also found a wonderful French antique two-seater formal sofa from a lady in Fulham who had tired of it and wanted it to go to a ‘good home’. The piece de resistance, though, has to be my Neptune dresser. It’s cream and pale oak and I’d had the very same model on my ultimate wishlist but at an eye-watering £2,800 it was a pipe dream. Cue much jubilation when the exact model showed up on Gumtree and the seller accepted £400!

Louise’s top tips

Check items are from a smoke free and (ideally) pet free home, as the quality will be better. Also, don’t buy things in need of ‘upcycling’ if you’re a busy person. Be realistic about whether you actually have time to sand and treat ten dining chairs before painting them Millennial Pink.

An antique two-seater sofa.
The antique two-seater formal sofa looking très chic in Louise’s home

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