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7 of the best Pre-loved specialists in the land

Our cheat sheet to some of our favorite specialists in the secondhand, antique and vintage furniture and décor category countrywide.

Remember when we told you we were all about authenticity and craftsmanship and advocate for living a more considered life? We meant it. We’re also big on retail that has a story, and nothing embraces both concepts better than the growing pre-loved furniture and décor industry.

There are a number of reasons to give this sector a second look (pun intended). You’d be doing your part for the planet by supporting the re-use of a pre-owned item, rather than buying new every time. You’d be inheriting a piece of furniture or a home accessory that likely won’t be in the Jones’ house, a piece that has gravitas, provenance and character. That, in itself, is hard to achieve these days. And you’d also be supporting a local business.

If we’ve judged the current zeitgeist correctly, South Africans are embracing antique, vintage and reconditioned furniture more than ever before. The current surge of new shops and experts on social media alone proves this is more than a hunch.

We’ve combed the country to bring you some of our go-to’s. Our selection is based on their expertise as well as what makes them stand out from the (ever-growing) crowd.

TAFEL

A Pretoria-based family run business whose byline ‘bring everyone together’ rings very true. Run by two enthusiastic sisters and their father (an expert in reconditioning and upcycling), who collectively have a great eye for spotting potential. They give any old piece of furniture or decorative item new life with a variety of salvaged pieces available ranging from outdoor furniture and mirrors to dressing tables and decorative accessories. Tafel’s variety and frequency of new pieces is impressive as is their obvious passion for what they do. If you’re a fan of furniture pieces with aging paint finishes and loads of patina, this’ll be your groove.

How do you make this all possible?

We wouldn’t be able to pull any of these amazing pieces off by ourselves. We have the beautifully artistic and creative mind of our father who comes up with most of the ideas. That’s in addition to our amazing factory team who work tirelessly to make it all happen and deliver each item flawlessly.

What we love:

Their infectious attitude and clear ardor for what they do. We also love their wainscoted photo booth (which is being expanded as we write this) in which they photograph each item from a variety of angles, allowing a proper look from the comfort of your handheld device!

@tafel_furniture

HUISRAAD MODERN

Life and business partners Magriet Theron and Ali van Wyk certainly make a formidable team. They have a great eye and seemingly endless supply of found furniture items rooted in mid-century modern as well as select Art Deco and older antique pieces. You’ll find them hands-on and approachable with a knack for forging real relationships with their clients (this, from personal experience). Their magic formula includes refurbishment and reupholstery. Although based in the Cape and Bapsfontein, their nationwide delivery service is very useful and shoppers can browse their online store as well as visit their new semi-industrial showroom-cum-workshop in Cape Town’s Parow East for a more personalised engagement.

What has been your top selling item to date?

We don’t have product lines, of course, so every piece is unique. We like to think a rare Eileen Gray black lacquered brick screen (made in the seventies under license, when she was still around) was our best item yet. Gray’s story is both wonderful and inspirational.

What we love:

Thanks to their time spent in magazines, both Magriet and Ali lend their feed an editorial approach with a sharply curated eye and great backstory! Also, having a regularly updated online store which is grouped into easy-to-navigate sections like Dining Room, Lounge, Patio and more means you don’t have to endlessly scroll on Insta.

huisraad.co.za | @huisraad_modern

RE-TREND

To the tuned-in Joburger, Re-Trend is a well-known and much-loved source. Fans are spoilt with the variety and volume of predominantly 50s and 60s pieces that grace their (almost new) Rand Steam Shopping Centre store. Cleverly styled – testament to owner Larushka Maré and her team’s aesthetic eye – their shop never disappoints on inspiration. Launched in 2015, Re-Trend has grown into a successful local business that has never forgotten its roots: a love for vintage (and beauty) and for people with this shared passion.

Your advice for virgin mid-century collectors?

Mid-century pieces are versatile, all-inclusive and generally timeless. The simplicity of the furniture is appreciated by many, hence its popularity in modern homes. For this reason, get to know and develop your own style and then bring in the pieces that resonate with you. If you are converting to mid-century, try to find a few key pieces to begin with and slowly integrate them.

What we love:

Their on-point store styling which usually has us snapping a few pics, plus their inspiring Instagram feed. Re-Trend’s restoration expertise is noteworthy as are their skills with veneer refurbishment – always approached with dedication and care.

retrend.co.za | @retrendsa

COAST & COUNTRY

One of SA’s most elegant specialists in pre-loved, Coast & Country sets the bar high. Owner Olga Barrow, an interior designer in her own right, is steadily bringing a dose of contemporary-cool to the antiques scene with her restrained approach. A visit to their calm and collected Cape Town showroom is a treat with a keenly curated ensemble of South African and European antiques against her characteristically crisp backdrop. This furniture and accessories atelier bolsters its lustworthy antique offering with locally manufactured ‘Made by Coast & Country’ items like upholstery, mirrors, rugs, decorative accessories and more. The brand’s pared-back style harks to Olga’s upbringing, when a less-is-more and quality leads approach was engrained.

Any tips for fans wanting to buy or collect?

Collect what you love, mix periods and styles for interest. Buy less, but the best quality you can afford. Buying antiques and mid-century is not reserved for the older generation; collecting is fun and these items will likely last a lifetime.

What we love:

The effortless and soothing sophistication with which the Coast & Country team style and display their goods. As a brand, we especially relate to the notion of building relationships with knowledgeable local suppliers and artisans (in business and in life, no doubt).

coastandcountry.co | @coastandcountryct

BARN & WERF

Situated in that beautiful part of the Cape, over the gob smacking Helshoogte Pass in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town called Simondium, Barn & Werf is well worth the trip. If their Instagram feed doesn’t have you heading for the car keys, then nothing will. Under the expert eye of Vicki Bell this treasure trove boasts an array of high-quality pieces (antiques and vintage) with real provenance. Handpicked items vary from large oak armoires and industrial lockers to an impressive selection of tables and smaller (intriguing) artefacts, all of which can be explored from a 1932 barn.

What draws you to this niche in particular?

For me, there is nothing that beats the appeal of a well-crafted piece of furniture with a past life…as well as a future. Growing up, my father had an auction house and a love of antiques and so our house was always full of interesting pieces. Shopping for stock is like being on a constant treasure hunt.

What we love:

That, despite their penchant for restoration, Barn & Werf don’t overwork a piece, allowing as much of the original character and patina to be the hero. Oh, and the historic little enclave that the shop exists in called Handelshuis, where you can grab a coffee and pastry under the shade of the pepper trees and explore the neighbouring stores.

Facebook: barnandwerf | Instagram: @barn_and_werf

MØDERNIST

A beacon in the Joburg pre-loved scene, MØDERNIST is ground zero for mid-century modern (MCM) purists. Owned by Anikesh Ramani and Gavin Thomas and with a steady stream of seriously collectable pieces by famous Scandi furniture designers and makers – think Arne Vodder, Børge Mogensen & Kai Kristiansen – consider a purchase from this hallowed establishment an investment in collectables.

Tell us about your offering.

We stock a hand-picked selection of carefully restored imported Danish MCM pieces for the home such as sideboards, dining tables and chairs, desks, drinks cabinets, coffee tables, lighting and more. Upstairs from MØDERNIST you’ll find our sister shop, WASTELAND, which specialises in locally sourced mid-century and vintage items including some contemporary local products by the likes of Damn Good Looking, Hoi P’Loy DYAD, La Fede, MATBLAC, MOS & Saint d’Ici. We also offer wood restoration and re-upholstery services for your existing furniture. And look out for our new range of contemporary sofas launching soon!

What we love:

Their expert knowledge of Danish MCM furniture is unrivaled. We really like how they combine their seriously collectable pieces with South Africana and contemporary locally designed pieces – this fusion keeps them approachable and resonates with the brand’s values.

modernist.biz | @modernist.biz

SHOP BANDE A PART

A fresh new arrival on the scene, Bande A Part caught our beady eye because of the sheer simplicity and elegance of their Insta feed. While our choice may at first seem fickle, scratching a little deeper reveals the ardent aesthete and Michaelis Fine Art graduate behind this specialist in “timeless, playful and/or romantic” pieces, Fabienne Troost. Her offering of furniture, glassware, books and decorative items is inspired and she only sells things that she would buy for herself (which Fabienne admits often leads to heartbreak when stock sells!).

Any tips for fans beginning their Bande a Part collection?

Buy what you like, not what you think other people will like. Always break at least one rule. Think of the contents of your interior just as you would the things that inspire you, like the music you listen to, the clothes you wear or the books you read.

What we love:

The simplicity and monochromatic approach to her photography, aiding you in viewing her pieces without distraction. We also love Fabienne’s videos, which offer something a bit more dynamic and informative in the pre-loved Instagram space.

@shop_bande_a_part

WORDS: Mila Crewe-Brown and J-P de la Chaumette
PRODUCTION: J-P de la Chaumette
IMAGES: Supplied