Buying furniture, art and objects at auction

I am always on the hunt for the right piece of furniture, art or object for the interior I am designing. I love auction houses (the old fashioned kind) for finding fabulous, unique pieces that no one else will have. Whether it is furniture, rugs, paintings, vases, you name it, they will probably be auctioned it at some point in time. This is where the antique and art dealers come to stock their shops at ‘wholesale’ prices. I absolutely love the thrill of the hunt, and the atmosphere of the auction.

Auction houses are known most widely for their auction of old master paintings that sell for huge prices. What is less commonly known is that they can also have a wide range of affordable items that anybody can purchase. The weekly auctions at Leonard Joel in South Yarra is what I consider ‘my local’ and is my favourite for great service and fantastic finds. I have bought a rug, furniture and paintings that are all unique and look fabulous in their settings, for what I would describe as bargain pricing.

If you want to buy from an auction house, here are my top tips on how to go about it:

  1. Sign up to receive the email catalogues. Note the viewing times and dates of the auctions you are interested in.
  2. Check out the items online before you go in person. There are so many things in the auction rooms it can be very overwhelming!
  3. Try and visualise the item in the space where you want it to go – this is where professional advice from an Interior Designer can be useful.
  4. Register before the auction (online, by fax or in person).
  5. Decide how much you want to bid. At Leonard Joel the minimum bid is $50. Don’t forget to add on the buyer’s premium and GST to your bid amount when working out your budget. i.e. a bid of $50 will be a total outlay of $50 + 20% + 10%.
  6. You can bid online, via phone etc. I always prefer to bid in person because if the interest is low you won’t need to go to your limit, and the atmosphere and people watching is fantastic!
  7. You will need to pick up your item quickly, so make sure you are prepared with payment and transport if you are the winning bidder.

If you need some help with selecting artwork or want someone to design your complete interior, then we can help! Contact Meredith Lee on 0400 775 724 or email us.

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Below are some photos of the art auction room and the purchased painting hanging in an entrance: