Dedicated to being as sustainable as possible, we set up our business a few years ago when we decided flat pack furniture was just not for us. We want things that are going to last. The presence of having antiques in our home creates a sense of nostalgia and history, connecting us to the past and adding character to our living space. Every single piece of our furniture is individual, you will never buy the same item twice… and for that reason is why we love antiques. Our story consists of muddy boots, antique pine and soup… lots and lots of soup! Our website is www.smudgeonline.co.uk. We are based in Roxwell, just outside of Chelmsford in Essex. With only being 45 minutes away from London, it is the perfect location.
What is the unique appeal of antiques?
We think that the appeal of antiques varies from person to person. Personally, we love the beauty and charm that comes from the combination of age, design and craftsmanship. They can enhance the visual appeal of a space by adding character and a sense of timelessness. We love every dent, scratch and stain as they all tell a story about the piece.
What areas/items are currently selling well?
The classic farmhouse table has always been one of our biggest sellers as well as a sturdy antique pine chest of drawers. As we leave winter, people naturally start to organize and reorder their house. This comes with wanting more storage space as well as new key features for their homes.
Which are the ones to watch/future sellers?
We think antique art is slowly becoming the next big thing. Although we personally do not deal with it as much as we want to, we both appreciate and admire some art work and know it is worth investing in.
What antiques do you have at home/collect and why?
Antique sideboards! With having young children, they have become a lifesaver. We also love a good chest of drawers, again for the storage aspect but there is something quite refreshing about closing a drawer that’s full of rubbish, knowing that it’s hidden and not in sight.
What do you think will be the antiques of the future?
An authentic farmhouse table is definitely something to look out for, they are becoming rarer each year. We often find they come to us with sections missing, legs cut at the bottom or someone has attempted to restore it by painting the top in bathroom paint – trust us we have seen it all.
How is the industry changing and are you optimistic for its future?
We think change is good. Every business has to learn and adapt to modern times and we are firm believers that technology can be your friend – if you’re willing to put the time and effort into it. It can be a useful tool to any business. We are lucky as we are an online business so we haven’t learnt to adapt to going online – but being online is key if you want to stay noticed.
Is new technology good for the trade and buyers/collectors?
We think new technology is great, everything changes and nothing stays the same and in business you cannot stand still. You have to ‘move with the times’ and technology is adapting all the time. With new technology comes new opportunities to be noticed.
Tell us some trade secrets – what key questions should buyers ask?
Personally, we believe to be as open and honest as possible. If something sounds too good to be true – it probably is. If you are a buyer and you have seen something for a fraction of the normal price, ask to see it in person or for more photos/videos. We have been bitten many times over the years – some have really hurt.
What antiques/artworks would you buy if money were no object?
Paintings! Art never goes out of fashion and can be a huge investment. This is something over the next year we are hoping to dive into and learn more about as we would love to own more artwork ourselves.
You’re down to your last 50 quid – what antiques/art would you buy?
Unfortunately £50 won’t go far nowadays in the antique world, however we have been at the point ourselves where we have as little as £50 in the wallet and with that we purchased some furniture wax that we needed for one of our regular customers who wanted something a little darker for one of her tables. Needless to say afterwards it was fish and chips for dinner!
Where are your favourite antique hunting destinations and why?
We are very lucky in the sense that we have numerous contacts that ‘sell to us’ so most of our ‘hunting’ is on our whatsapp! However we do encourage you if you’re able to go to your local antique shops to do so. You never know what you are going to find and it makes it exciting. Also we want to support small local businesses as we all know at the moment that times are tough.
What are some of the biggest mistakes that buyers make?
Not asking enough questions. We have been there ourselves when some sellers can put pressure on you to make decisions as they want to close the sale and you feel like there isn’t enough time to ask – you have every right to ask. Ask 100 questions if you need too. Pressure selling is something we never have done and never will do as it can be uncomfortable and at the very start we wouldn’t ask any questions!
What do you consider the high point of your career in antiques?
We have been very fortunate enough to work with some amazing companies over the past year or so, however we are not allowed to give away too many details – we are happy to say that some of our items have been sold to well-known film studios as well as famous authors.
Are antiques attracting younger buyers and, if not, how can the industry reach out to them?
Yes! Some of our closest business friends are young buyers. It really is great to see the younger generation reaching out and diving into the world of antiques.
What advice would you give to people new to antiques who want to learn more?
Do your research. The amount of times we have purchased something thinking it was something else when in fact we should have done more research and ended up making a loss… Also, go to as many antique fairs as possible and talk to other people in the industry, it is always good to make connections that way so a business card is a must.