Changing rooms

How much will it cost to give your home an authentic revamp? Less than you think, says Jeremy Thornton

Auctions are a great source of items to decorate a home or dress a room. Auctioneers, just like retailers, lay out room ‘sets’ to help potential buyers visualise a lot in a domestic setting. But how much would you need to spend to reshape and transform a room? I reckon a budget of £1,000 would do it – or £2,000 if you want a signature piece. I have chosen to look at items from the late 18th Century, but equally the Edwardian period or even items from the 1950s are being sort out at auction by homeowners keen to revamp a room. Similar items to those I have selected all make regular appearances at my own or other auction houses across the Midlands.


So, let’s have a look at what your money could get you. First up is an attractive late Georgian chest with two short and tree long drawers on double ogee shaped bracket feet. Cost is £350. These chests sit well in modern homes as they are often of modest proportions and compare favourably to the larger more imposing Victorian examples, which are brilliant for holding all those jumpers you never wear! For a little detail, the circa 1800 mahogany toilet mirror is great value at £120. This example is particularly attractive with its serpentine front, boxwood stringing and cross-banding and inlaid parquetry roundel – all signs of quality. All houses, I find, need an extra chair or two whether it be for a guest room, bedroom, or hall. My pick is a Regency example in rosewood with anthemion carving and brass inlay on classic sabre legs. Often chairs split from a dining room set will cost as little as £50.


If your budget will run to an item of silverware, I would always recommend a pair of candlesticks. Late Georgian silver filled candlesticks are of simple form, circular sconces mirrored by the base and simple. A pair by John Parsons dated from 1791 are a cut above many, and if you can push the budget will set you back around £500. Finally to stamp your mark on the room, look for a standout picture. The contemporary pen and ink study on canvas I’ve picked by Crotian artist Predrag Pajdic, while not everyone’s cup of tea, does the job perfectly and cost £800.

Jeremy Thornton is an auctioneer at Biddle & Webb, which has been established in Birmingham for more than 50 years.