Mid Century Modern
Mid century furniture is BIG business at the minute. We spoke to the experts Betty's Lounge for some advice when considering buying vintage. Fellow dachshund owner's John and Zara-Jane are a husband and wife team based in Ballyclare who started selling everything from daybeds, sideboards, chest of drawers to clocks and lamps just over 3 years ago after uncovering the lack of this style of furniture available here in Northern Ireland. They now sell all over Ireland and have even shipped back to California! And who is Betty you might ask? Well the inspiration for the name was Zara-Jane's own Grandmother Betty Ditty who passed down her passion for mid century to her grand-daughter.
The pair source items from Los Angeles, California, Denmark, all over Europe and all over Ireland with sought after designers like Arne Jacobson, Kai Kristiansen, Erik Buch, Ray & Charles Eames, Borge Mogensen, Grete Jalk, Kofod Larsen, Illum Wikkelso, France & son, Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier as well as more common manufacturers like G-Plan. Most of the above are also well known architects and the reason for designing furniture for them was because it was a much faster process for them to see their designs in reality.
Here are their Top Tips for buying:
"Try to buy items that are in excellent condition."
Sounds simple but as this furniture is vintage and preloved inevitably there will be some wear and tear over the years, look out for any damage around the edges which get the most abuse and for ring marks from glasses.
2. ASSEMBLE YOUR COLLECTION
"Find designers and makers that you like and try and collect other items that they produced, ie I'm a big fan for Peter hvidt & Fin Juhl these items will inevitably only increase in value over time as the number of items in the wild decrease."
More than one piece by the same designer will also create a cohesive and seamless look to your interior. A sideboard and matching set of drawers is hard to beat especially by a sought after big name in MCM.
3. BUY ONCE
"Try to buy the best you can afford, invariably you'll find yourself buying just a cute table then a year later you want another, our home is now filled with items that we would NEVER replace .. Buy the best and buy once."
Makes sense doesn't it? Invest in good quality and it wont fall apart when you try to move it unlike cheaper furniture brands and on the upside you don't have the hassle of trying to assemble it yourself! However don't go overboard- affordability is the key here, there are plenty of original mid century pieces of furniture about that are affordable. If you cant afford the big names give Betty's Lounge a message and see if they have something in your price range, they cover most budgets and give great advice.
4. BUY SMART
"Be careful of reproduction items and fakes, research designers and designs, you will become expert in manufacturing techniques and styles you'll be able to tell the difference between and fake and a real item just by the type of screw used... Proper mid century furniture of historical importance is a serious business."
Now at this point I must confess to owning some replica Eames dining chairs (sorry Betty's Lounge!) but I can confirm that they are most definitely not the same quality as the original having had to bend one into shape after a small gathering round SHED HQ! However where possible we have bought original and as anyone who has tried to lift our McIntosh sideboard will tell you they are worth their weight! Its solid wood and probably looks the same as the day it was made .
5. LOOK FOR INSPIRATION
"Watch classic movies quite often, you'll see the most amazing sets in old movies that you can have fun reproducing in your own home .. I love Lucy, Columbo, the list is endless. The first ever pilot episode of Colombo was filmed in the Stahl house in Los Angeles that we visit when we are there, there's a book alone in the category we recently bought a Fin Juhl spade chair that featured in the 1st ever James Bond movie DR No."
I also have to big up the Betty's Lounge Facebook and Instagram page for inspiration too for their Mid-Century styling of their items for sale. There are a few in Ireland to look at too- Kirk Modern and Anonymous to name a couple.
"And lastly .. Number 6 ultimately in all of this there's no right or wrong like design, buy what catches your eye what you like, just buy it with knowledge and information and have fun doing it mid century furniture buying is exciting and fun so have fun doing it ."
Furnishing your home should be an exciting and enjoyable experience, its great knowing you own a piece of history that others have enjoyed before you, the fact that stock is slowly dwindling means once you find a piece you love hold on to it!
Betty's Lounge is based solely on social media and the appetite for MCM locally does not seem to be slowing down at all. To see some of Betty's Lounge offerings they run a pop up shop at Blue Hairdressing in Belfast the first Sunday of every month, alternatively drop them a message! We just need a bigger Shed HQ to fit another sideboard and some more architect's favourite- Ladderax shelving!
All photos courtesy of Betty's Lounge