I heart eBay

I’ve decided to do a blog post showcasing my greatest eBay finds. Friends of mine are forever bemoaning the fact that I always buy stuff on eBay while they cannot find anything of any worth or just can’t be bothered to look. Which is really their big problem. Ebay can be a bit time consuming but there are bargains to be had and the fun of knowing you got something for a lot less money than if you went to John Lewis/Habitat etc Best of all you can get one off, no one else will have them, pieces which is my favourite thing of all.

So here is my idiots guide to shopping for stuff on eBay…

1) EVERYTHING is cheaper on eBay. Even IKEA. Our Kitchen in France was all bought up on eBay thanks to constant searching for IKEA VARDE. If you do want IKEA stuff be specific. Find out its funny Swedish name and search for that. In the case of our french kitchen we plumped for a freestanding range which people seem to be often selling off on eBay so even though it’s pretty cheap to buy it full price, by the time we’d bought 10 units of differing size including drawers and a sink unit, we worked out we saved around £1500.

 

Going potty

Going potty

2) SAVED SEARCHES ARE YOUR FRIEND. Think about specific things you want or need and save a search on eBay. I currently have saved searches for Made.com and Graham and Green and so every time anyone puts anything up there I get a notification taking me straight to it. We bought our cooker in France this way with a saved search for Smeg Range. You can see the kind of price range you can expect to pay and sometimes one is going cheap. Like this range with hood – ours for just £500 from a cookery school closing down in Watford.

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3) BE PREPARED TO TRAVEL. Husband (patiently) has driven for miles around the country over the last few years to buy up stuff I have found and bought on eBay. The further from London the cheaper it will be. FACT.

4) Don’t be put off by things listed as damaged or broken. Our bedroom mirror in France was honestly listed by someone as chipped in the description line which obviously put everyone else off. When it arrived the chip was so minor you can’t even see it but I got the mirror for £50 as opposed to hundreds of pounds for similar ‘non damaged’ ones.

 

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my fifty pound mirror

 

5) Buy ‘new’ stuff on ebay….I get all manner of useful but quite practical stuff on ebay. Things like ‘wire’. Hanging lights look so much nicer with antiqued or coloured wire hangings and you can search for all this sort of stuff on ebay. And the choice is massive. I had been searching for light wire and stumbled upon this black and white ‘iron’ wire which I switched onto my White Company lights in my London home to make them look a bit more interesting.

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Difficult to see but the wire is black and white stripes.

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‘antique’ wire on the hanging lights. Search for fabric wire on eBay

6) If you have something you like – keep buying more on eBay. Our garden hammocks were getting a bit shabby but we loved them and used them more than any other item in our french house. IKEA had discontinued them but we saved a search on eBay and now just keep buying them and storing them!

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Our favourite place

7)It is the BEST place for haberdashery (well apart from John Lewis but you can get this stuff from your desk!) Cushion fabrics, linging fabric, zips etc can all be bought on ebay. Even discontinued fabrics. Or save a search for expensive brands like Designers Guild and you can always get some scraps and make cushions. I’ve bought all my lovely hessian fabric to make curtains on ebay – its not really intended for curtain making but I love it and it is VERY cheap.

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hessian fabric just 2 pounds a metre! Perfect for 3m long curtains!

So there you have it. I literally buy almost everything I can on ebay. Even if I see something I like in a shop I just go home and do a search on eBay to see if I can find it cheaper. And that’s the way to make sure you get lovely stuff even if budgets are tight. Hope you find my advice useful. You’ll become the master or mistress of the ‘saved search’ before you know it!

Sew WHAT?

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sew not difficult to do!

I don’t DO sewing. I barely do washing. In fact when my children were recently taught a mother’s day song at school that went along the lines of ‘she does the washing, the cleaning and the shopping too..’ apart from being so cross at the implication and using it as an excuse to rant at my two sons about a hundred years of female emancipation, I needn’t have worried as they both spotted the error in the lyrics announcing ‘but you don’t do ANY of those things mummy.’ Exactly. I go to work. I work hard. I can afford to pay someone else to do that stuff. Or imagine this, I share this workload with my MALE partner (and does ordering Ocado on your ipad count?) Anyway, suffice to say I am a modern woman who is thrilled to be able to go online and order things. However, as having a house in France meant yet more opportunities to search the Rockket St George website for soft furnishings my husband grew increasingly frustrated with what he describes as an ‘almost compulsive cushion habit’. He’s right. I am to cushions what Hunter S Thompson is to illegal substances. Why stop at one when you could buy THEM ALL? And so, I decided I would see if I could make my own. I would stop spending insane amounts of money on bits of square fabric sewn around the edges and I would teach myself to sew.

How hard could it be? I bought myself a sewing machine and sat down and read the instruction book. I learnt how to thread spools, do back stitch and forward stitch and not much more besides. And then I went on ebay and bought scraps of Cath Kidston fabric. If you could be bothered you could make a fortune selling old bits of rubbish that any normal sane person would throw out. There I was paying £3.50 for a 50cm square piece of spotty fabric. The kind of thing I would chuck in the bin if I had it left over from something. This is probably how Alan Sugar started and why I will never be a millionaire. I am the person buying up other people’s rubbish rather than seeing the money spinning potential in raggedy old bits of material. Truthfully, when you take into account postage and the time I spent fashioning these scraps into cushions I could have just gone to John Lewis and bought them for less. But, NOT THE POINT. I felt a massive sense of achievement when my cushion mountain was complete. And then I cheated and bought some White Company bunting on ebay.

But the fact was, my god daughter Cara was coming to stay and I wanted to make a room for her to sleep in that would get out all my ‘mother of sons’ frustrations. Boys do not appreciated hand made cushions. Or bunting. Or the lovely quilt I also got at the White Company. Oh or the lovely IKEA Minnen, white metal bed frame. But I hoped, that Cara would. And so I also went on ebay and sourced a wall of flower paintings. I bought up loads of cheap paintings that others were trying to get rid of and then painted the frames white and hung them in a group on the wall over her bed. And when she came to stay with her mum, my BFF, Petra, she LOVED it. And I cried with joy when I saw how much she loved it. My boys don’t get that kind of ‘really? all for me?’ look on their faces, other than maybe if I order them a dominoes stuffed crust meat feast pizza. But when Cara was shown the flowery room in France that was to be hers for four days, it made all the sewing and ebay sourcing worthwhile as her little face quite literally lit up. And I was bitten by the sewing bug. And taught myself how to make curtains! But that’s for another room on another day…..

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Kirsty Allsop whatevs! Vic’s homemade bedroom