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Buying Art Deco furniture from online auctions

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

Endymion House appeared on the front cover of the FT's House & Home section this weekend. It was an article about how we furnished the house with original Art Deco pieces bought at auction.

The full article can be read here on the FT's website, with photographs by Thomas Duffield.

It was great to see the house and some of its rooms feature in the newspaper. Though many aspects of refurbishing the house have been very expensive (!), one of the pleasant surprises has been finding original 1930s furniture at auction at often very cheap prices. The walnut dressing table (below) along with a matching wardrobe cost a mere £50 at auction –less than half the price of the very cheapest chipboard pair in Ikea.

Mark Wise, a director at Mitchells Antiques & Fine Arts, based in Cockermouth (just down the road from the house) says: “A traditional Georgian bureau, which could have easily fetched £600 about 15 years ago, is often now selling for £50. The value of things like this has just plummeted.”

Endymion House was built in 1938, after the original owners holidayed in Santa Barbara, California and wanted to bring a bit of International Moderne architecture back to Cumbria. It was sometimes quite exciting trying to outbid rival buyers to get my hands on something I thought was perfectly suited for Endymion: part English country house, part Art Deco.

It was also very satisfying to breathe life back into these often quite neglected objects, made nearly 100 years ago and built to last. "Brown furniture", as the antiques trade call this wooden furniture, is very unfashionable. Many people think heavy Victorian (or older) wooden furniture is both boring and too big to fit into their homes. Slimline, Scandinavian-style furniture appeals to young homeowners far more than mahogany tables and walnut wardrobes.

But there are few things more sustainable, when refurbishing a home, than to buy furniture from e-Bay or traditional auctions. Far better to give these pieces a good home than send them off to landfill.



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