Brown Antique Furniture Storms to Revival in the Auction Rooms

Change is on the wind, as the fortunes of traditional antique furniture swing round in favour of luxury over the sleek tones of modernity.

Wolf Hall, the latest in a string of lavish period dramas to hit our television screens, brings with it a sense of nostalgia for bygone eras.  Downton Abbey perhaps one of the best-loved period dramas of recent times bathes the Edwardian era in a rosy glow which we at home have found soothing for our battered souls.  So much so, as a nation we are returning to warmer tones and materials within our homes.

The 21st century brought with it a desire to cast off the old and take on the new.  We saw interiors shun the oak and mahogany of traditional antique furniture – albeit well made, quality pieces – in favour of sleek modern design, in glass, plastic and metallics.

After the years of austerity and modernism, ‘brown’ furniture – as it’s been dubbed in the press – is throwing off the shackles and taking its rightful place in the heart of the home.

The Antique Collectors Magazine stated: “minimalist fashion no longer exerts the all-powerful sway that it imposed on interiors.”  This swing away from sleek and modern is paving the way to a return to indulging and luxurious interiors where antiques are a statement piece, rather than an unloved item even the charity shops won’t take away.

We are seeing the green shoots of change filter down through the salerooms and out into our homes.  Lincolnshire’s leading provincial auctioneers & valuers Golding Young has already seen the revival in action with brown furniture values far exceeding market expectations in the first two sales of the year.

Colin Young, managing director and principal auctioneer & valuer shared his thoughts on the market: 

“It’s perhaps time to kick out all of the old clichés.  We’ve seen traditional furniture fly out of the door at prices we’ve not see for years. 

At the Grantham sale we had a set of 17th century oak chairs (Lot 185) which fit the ‘brown’ furniture label better than most.  They were rather good with deep seats, good turning and decoration.  But perhaps not suited to the light coloured décor we associate with 90% of the houses up and down the country today.  With modest expectations they flew at £500.

Victorian furniture also fared well with a mahogany wind-out dining table (Lot 56) - which had previous struggled to achieve interest - now had multiple bidders taking it to £850 at the Bourne Auction Rooms.  Retro furniture was once more flavour of the month with a Newton & White sideboard (Lot 196) again having much competition and achieving £240.”

Some question whether it’s too early to be talking about green shoots, but the signs can’t be ignored. There is undoubtedly a revival storming through the salerooms as we turn towards creating a warmer more luxurious look within our homes.

Louise Hodgkinson,, 01780 758537

The firm was started by Thomas Mawer in 1864, operating from various premises before settling at Dunston House, Lincoln.  In 1989 up and coming auctioneer Colin Young joined Goldings of Grantham, before becoming the principal auctioneer and valuer in 1994 where he changed the name to Golding Young & Co.  Young merged the two business in 2010 to create Golding Young & Mawer.  He then went on to acquire Richardsons of Bourne to develop a thriving auction and valuation company with three salerooms and one satellite valuation office.



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