Vintage furniture in a new built home: house tour

I decided to do a little house tour today, of our rental home in Spain. It is usually a mess, as anyone with young children knows it is an eternal war zone living with too many toys – and very small boys. I took these photos recently so we could advertise our house on a holiday home exchange website. (Whether you sell your home or otherwise promote your house, tidying up for the photos is a must!). Here is our eclectic mix of vintage furniture in a new home.

Boho decor in new house

It is in some ways funny to see our vintage furniture in a new home, as supposed to our old 1930s granite house in Scotland where we were before. Still, it was surprising how it somehow looks as if it belongs here. The white new built box we live in now provides a nice blank canvas to show off our vintage furniture and artworks.

The design of our rental house is almost modernist in a way, open plan, with a mezzanine opening to the next floor. Large windows. We love the style of architecture, although with two noisy boys you can imagine sound travels easily in such an open space! It is also quite a cold house in winter, with any heat going straight upstairs. Nevertheless, it is a great, spaceous home for us to live in right now.

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Midcentury sideboard in a new built home

We added a few pieces of furniture we didn’t have before, including the white lights above the dining table. We also added a vintage painted sideboard to our interior, which we bought from Back to Life Furniture in Aberdeenshire, just before we left last year. As we had a giant artic truck coming to move us to Spain, we decided to make use of it! I love the way Lynsey painted the drawers and outside of the midcentury piece white and adding with subtle stripes to the doors, changing the look completely.

Vibrant paintings in a Spanish home

We also brought quite a few large paintings and framed prints to Spain. The vibrant painting of the jazz band above the sideboard I always loved, but it never looked quite at home in Scotland. Just a bit flamboyant. It is by a South American painter called Yvonne Mora and it looks so much more at home in Spain! I am so glad we kept it. It means even more to me now I have found a new Spanish band in Valencia and continue to sing (in English though, my Spanish is not up to singing standard yet!).

The large green artwork behind the dining table is a 1966 original print by the late Aberdeen artist Pauline Jacobsen. I once bought it at auction for just £25… I instantly loved the midcentury feel of it and I am so glad we now own it. It is one of two…I wonder where its twin is…? Does anyone know?

No hallway? What about the shoes!

As with many Spanish houses, there is no vestibule or hallway. You open the front door and you’re straight in! This means tidying up is pretty vital in the entry area, with jackets, shoes, cycling helmets and school bags. I bought a coat stand and recently decided to move one of my vintage chests of drawers downstairs as well, to help keep most of the stray stuff out of sight. I think the vintage furniture in our new home goes quite well. The painting above it? Another wonderful Scottish artwork (by Ian W. Paterson) I found on one of my treasure hunts, at a book fair this time.

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A large sunny loft space

One of the perks of this new built house in the suburbs of Valencia is its large attic space. It has become a very versatile room, for the kids to play in as well as for guests to stay. Our cat also loves it up here. Peaceful! Sometimes – when I feel disciplined – I roll out my yoga mat once the kids are at school and before I start work. I open the door onto the roof terrace to let the sun in. Bliss. In summer it turns into an oven up here, but right now in winter it is pleasant and warm.

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Craving for colour

Living Spain has made me want to use more bold colours in my interior. I probably wouldn’t have chosen these bedroom curtains back in Scotland, but here they look fabulous in the bright sunlight. The vintage mustard yellow Welsh blanket is only used in the winter months, as it’s airconditioning on and thin sheets all summer! The artwork above the bed is a relief print by Scottish artist Francis Boag.

mustard yellow bedding

As we are renting this house, it is tricky to make it completely our own. I probably would change a few wall colours or be a bit more adventurous with putting up shelves and pictures, but I mainly used existing picture hooks. The walls are also different here than in the UK and much harder to drill into. Don’t want to make a mess of it! We did use some heavy duty Command strips to hang up white board and pictures on the tiled wall in the kitchen.

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Rescue plants from Scotland

The terraces are filled with mediterranean plants. It even has two plants I once rescued from a dark old house in North-east Scotland, when I was on one of my vintage furniture buying trips. It turns out that they are a money plant and a rubber plant, both native here in Spain. They are literally growing arms and legs and obviously very happy to be in their natural habitat.

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A midcentury sideboard in a modern converted steading

Today I am visiting a midcentury sideboard in a modern converted steading. In this blog series I am tracking the beautiful vintage pieces that were once bought from my store Nina’s Apartment. I am looking them up them in their new homes. I rescued most of these pieces from house clearances or I bought them from older people who were downsizing and no longer had space for their beloved (now vintage) furniture.

the journey of a vintage sideboard

Whatever their story, they carry a lot of history. I am sure if the original owners saw their furniture getting a new lease of life, it would put a smile on their face. So who bought them, why and where are these pieces now? This time I am looking up a sleek teak sideboard, bought from a house clearance. Dusted off, polished up and giving some TLC. Currently taking pride of place in a gorgeous modern converted steading near Alford, Aberdeenshire.

modern converted steading


looking for stylish storage

New owners Erika and Derek came into Nina’s Apartment two years ago, looking for something that was stylish, of a mid-century modern design and with plenty of storage space. It also needed to be low enough to fit under the sky light windows. The sideboard didn’t change that much in use compared to its original purpose. It’s main function is the the family’s drinks cabinet. They did update the original door knobs and replaced them with dark grey marbled ones to add a bit of contrast.

modern converted steading


modern converted steading

Erika, who produces artwork at a design company and her husband Derek, who works in the oil industry, converted the old steading ten years ago. They live there with their two teenage daughters. They chose to have the living space upstairs and the bedrooms downstairs. This provided them with amazing views over the Aberdeenshire countryside and also makes the large open plan top floor very bright and sunny. Although according to Erika “the whole space gets pretty dark in winter on days when there is heavy snow and all windows are covered”!

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a quality vintage sideboard

The sideboard Erika and Derek bought is a 1960s design by A Younger Ltd. This English company was a high quality furniture manufacturer that led style and contemporary taste in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Younger furniture was low volume, well made and aimed at the top end of the market. It was also among the first firms to make Scandinavian style furniture in the fifties. Finally it was one of the first manufacturers to abandon the style in search of something more original in the late sixties (more info on Retrowow).

modern scandinavian style decor

The design of the sideboard goes very well with the rest of the modern converted steading. The space is decorated in a kind of Scandinavian style and fairly monochrome colour scheme. It is nice to see how the owners have creatively combined vintage, high end design and high street furniture. The black and white rug was bought from La Redoute, the large grey corner sofa sofa is by SITS. I love the Ikea kitchen cabinets that, placed upside down and beside each other, were transformed into a full length TV and media unit. Talk about thinking outside the box!

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They found the vintage green kitchen table locally, as well as the old chest underneath it. The wall paper on the central staircase adds a nice bit of pattern to the bright room and is from Scion.

modern steading conversion


from neglected to adored

A lot of vintage pieces came into my shop in a very unloved, neglected state. I just love seeing them come to life again in their new environment. I know it sounds like I am talking about the adoption process of an abandoned kitten, but I think this was one lucky sideboard to find such a fitting, stylish and sunny home. This modern converted steading with its beautiful interior, light and open plan living is just perfect. And I can’t help but feeling slightly envious.

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Vintage revisited: journey of a sideboard

One of the great things about buying and selling vintage is knowing where it came from and seeing it off to a new home. Often I buy from older people who need to downsize and it is lovely to hear the history of the dining table they had so many Christmas dinners at, the china cabinet that always took pride in their living room or the sixties sideboard they bought for their wedding. Some people are happy to get rid of things, but more often than not you spot a bit of sentiment in the seller’s face as you lift the piece into the back of the car and drive off. Knowing that their beloved piece will be given a new home makes things easier, for sure. I thought it would be nice to share some of these stories and see the old pieces in their new setting. In this new blog series I am revisiting the vintage pieces that left my shop over the years and find out where they ended up.

First up is a sleek mid-century sideboard, now living in a converted steading in rural Aberdeenshire. I found her in a beautiful artist’s home, surrounded by other vintage pieces, colourful rugs, ceramics, books and artworks.

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New owner Kate bought the sideboard from Nina’s Apartment three years ago after spotting it on the facebook page. She was looking for plenty of storage for her craft supplies and in particular her sewing stash. The sideboard was the perfect low shape for the location she had in mind: the upstairs landing which doubles up as office, library and cosy TV nook.

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“The beauty of these vintage pieces is that the functionality of them can change with the years” says Kate. “The top drawer of a sideboard was normally used for cutlery back in the days, but it actually makes a great drawer for sewing supplies like thread, scissors and haberdashery. The cupboards have plenty of space for fabrics too.”

Kate and her husband are clearly big fans of the mid-century and Scandinavian style which is visible throughout the house. Downstairs a vintage blond wood Ercol suite and matching tables take pride of place in the wonderfully bright sitting room looking out onto the garden. The chair, footstool and day bed were reupholstered in the mustard yellow velvet curtains from Kate’s family home, providing just enough fabric to cover all the seats. Artworks, old rugs and house plants add to the eclectic, colourful mix.

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Mid century ceramics can also be found dotted around the house as well as glassware. “Some of the things I have had for years”, Kate says,”Some were inherited and other things I picked up from shops over the years. If it has a great shape and design it doesn’t matter where it is from, I just add it to the collection.”

The sideboard has certainly landed itself in the perfect environment. To imagine so many of its contemporaries ended up on bonfires is incredible. This one is definitely enjoying a fantastic second life.

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House tour: a small converted farmhouse in the Netherlands

On my travels through the Netherlands this month I popped into my friend Frederiek’s house in the tiny village of Huizinge, north Groningen, who lives there with her partner Wimer and their three-year old son Teun. Huizinge is a beautiful characterful village surrounded by endless flat green fields and far horizons. Frederiek and Wimer recently bought one of the old houses and brought it right up to date with a gorgeous interior full of vintage finds, contemporary art, minimalist touches and plenty of house plants.

Although the house inside doesn’t look anything like it originally was, Frederiek and Wimer didn’t have to do a lot of structural work to the building themselves when they bought it. “We bought the house casco (Dutch for a ‘shell’ building ed.), so it was mainly the inside that still needed to be finished. That way we were able to make the interior just the way we wanted which was great because we were looking for a blank canvas to work with”, Frederiek says. As a result the house is now much more suitable for modern living. The small rooms in the front of the house were originally living room and storage but are now the two bedrooms and the old animal barn got converted into a spacious and very bright kitchen-dining room.

Frederiek (here pictured with my husband)

The couple, who both work in the creative sector, have a keen eye for finding design on a shoestring budget and were lucky enough to salvage the large globe lights from a building in Groningen that was about to be demolished. Other vintage finds are the mid century dining chairs, sofa and armchair and the beautiful old tall glazed cabinet that came out of a cafe. Teun’s nursery is an eclectic collection of heirloom furniture from Frederiek’s family.



Despite the huge transformation there are still many original features which give the house a lot of character, such as the old barn windows, wooden doors and beams, now all painted in a fresh duck egg blue and warm greys. The seamless minimalist grey Egaline floor was poured throughout the house and forms a nice contrast. This type of floor is normally only used as under flooring but when mixed slightly different and coated it works well as a finished product too. Oh, and it is highly practical – what else would you expect from the Dutch?

A glass fronted extension looking out onto the garden and adjoining fields forms their bright ‘sitting room with a view’ including a wood burning stove, wall to wall book shelves and plenty of space for little Teun to play.

Their drive to make the house their own doesn’t stop here though. Having only moved in last December the energetic couple is already working on their next design project: the garden studio / guestroom. No doubt this will look just as stunning as the rest. I can’t wait to see it!