How to find second-hand designer items at Oxfam’s homeware stores

Sustainability is increasingly at the forefront of shoppers’ minds, and buying second-hand is one way to reduce the impact of your household shopping habits on the environment. But Pre-Likes aren’t just good for the planet, they can also be a great way to buy quality items for less.

Someone who knows the power of pre-loved household items is a designer and creative consultant Mathilde Goad. That’s why she’s teamed up with Oxfam to share her advice on the best items to buy from charity and vintage shops.

Matilda Goad buys interior items from Oxfam homewares
Matilda Goad at Oxfam’s flagship homewares store in Oxford

She explains why she’s such a fan of charity shops looking for quirky household items: “As long as I can remember, I’ve always loved the thrill of searching for unique second-hand pieces. I found so many great articles at Oxfam that I will treasure for a very long time.

“Buying second-hand household items from Oxfam extends the life of the items, which is important, and I love knowing that I’ve contributed to the circular economy and helped raise funds for Oxfam’s work that saves and changes lives.”

While the idea of ​​stumbling upon a gem at a charity shop is great, having to rummage around for your homeware bargains can be off-putting to some. If that’s you, Matilda’s advice tells you exactly what to look for when shopping at Oxfam or other charity homeware stores, so you’ll be an expert in second-hand shopping in no time.

Matilda Goad decorates the plates of Oxfam homewares
Matilda styles some of her Oxfam purchases

The charity also has a online home goods store if you prefer to sail from the comfort of your own couch. And you don’t have to give up buying new household items altogether, as Matilda suggests that a mix of old and new is the way to go.

She says: “Personally, I think the key to a good interior is the layering of old and new, from both a practical and aesthetic point of view. I will often find and rewire a vintage lamp and add one of my lampshades on top, or find second hand fabric to upholster a piece of furniture.

Matilda Goad shares her favorite items to buy from Oxfam homewares and other thrift stores.


A silver candlestick and dish from Oxfam homewares lie on a wooden table
Matilda advocates bringing second-hand silverware into your home

Although there has been a trend for copper and gold items, including faucets, candlesticks and kitchen utensils, Matilda is advocating for a shift in favor of silverware.

“Silverware is feeling a little out of favor at the moment, and for this reason there’s plenty to buy second-hand at a bargain price. I’m always drawn to vintage barware, for example, dishes clams for olives and cocktail shakers,” she says.


Matilda Goad holds a stack of Oxfam homeware books
If your newfound book-buying habit has gotten out of hand, why not try buying used books?

If you have an empty shelf and you’re debating do an Ashley Tisdale to fill ’em up, why not visit your local charity shop instead? Matilda names them as one of her favorite second-hand purchases.

“There’s something quite romantic about second-hand books. I like knowing they have been read and enjoyed, then passed on to someone else to enjoy. I buy most of my books used, at a fraction of the price, and usually with minor wear. Don’t overlook larger books or coffee table books with damaged covers. Instead, simply peel back to reveal a fresh new layer that’s more than fit for purpose,” advises Matilda.


A lamp from oxfam homewares on a side table next to a sofa
Lamps are an inexpensive way to add a finishing touch to a reading or sitting area.

Lamps are a great way to add a cozy touch to an otherwise unloved corner of a room, and by mixing and matching bases and shades, you can create something uniquely yours, says Matilda.

“When shopping second-hand, I often find that the great lamp bases will be overshadowed by the outdated shades they are designed with. Learn to look beyond the lampshades and focus on the basics because there are gems to be found and a lamp can be given a whole new life with the addition of a cool shade. I regularly have the lamps rewired, replacing the old cables with soft silk cables in a jewel tone.


Matilda Goad holds a box of oxfam household items in her hands
Prints, or just the frames they contain, make great second-hand buys

Photographs and prints add so much personality to a home, but if you’re a maximalist when it comes to your wall art, it can be expensive to buy quality frames to put them on. That’s why Matilda suggests sourcing from charity shops.

“Frames are one of my favorite things to pick up secondhand. Like with a lamp, look at pictures for their frames and not just for painting or photography. I tend to pick up frames I like when I find them and put them away ready for when I have what to put inside.


A vase of flowers is placed on books on a shelf
Vases of all shapes, sizes and styles can be found at charity shops

Whatever Instagram It Vase is at the moment, you’re almost certain to find something just as charming in a charity shop. However, Matilda explains that there is a red flag to watch out for when buying used ceramics.

“I have a shelf at home filled with vases and vessels that I have collected over the years from garage sales, antique fairs and charity shops. There is an abundance to give away and they are always useful, especially the little bud style vases that require a single stem to make a statement. They also make great gifts. My only rule is that I never buy anything that is chipped (unless I easily repairable), as it will likely sit in the closet and sit unused.

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