Furniture auctions are plentiful, but I’d never been to one before and decided it was time to rectify this. I called my friend Alan who said he was up for the adventure so now all I needed to do was find an auction to visit. Luckily I’d heard about an online auction search website called Barnebys which made everything really simple. Within a few minutes, I’d discovered that Lots Road Auctions in Chelsea, London hosted some great furniture auctions and would be the perfect place for us to visit.
Ground Floor Auction in Progress
Furniture Auctions at Lots Road
Lots Road holds two auctions every Sunday at 12 noon and 3 pm. We attended the 12 noon auction which promised to show contemporary and modern design furniture and home accessories from the 1950s to 21st century. This was held on the ground floor of the Lots Road Auctions building.
On display was a varied selection of second-hand sofas, mid-century modern sideboards, rustic dining tables, industrial lamps, Moroccan lamps, ornate mirrors and some unusual decorative items. There are a few rooms to browse around, and you’ll also find some basic refreshments and the toilets here.
Resin Painted Sharks Head £290-390
The 3 pm auction takes place on the first floor which is focussed on antiques and decorative items. This floor had a much grander feel, probably because they were displaying antiques, do venture up the stairs and wander around while you’re there.
You can view the lots online before attending, which shows a picture, description, measurements and estimated price which will be between two figures, for example, £190-290. Alternatively, you can rock up, collect a brochure which costs £1 and view the items up close and personal. If you are interested in a particular item, it is your responsibility to check for damage in advance. The guide will usually note apparent imperfections.
Cocktail Cabinet £2000-3500
When you arrive, you can register at the desk in reception if you are going to bid. You’ll need to provide your name, address, telephone number, valid credit or debit card details (or leave a cash deposit). They hand over a paddle which you raise in the air when you want to bid on an item.
Pair of Georgian Style Candle Lanterns £240-340
If you aren’t going to bid, you can walk straight through to the viewing room. All the items are on display so you can have a good nose around before bidding starts. You can also view the pieces from Wednesday evening and Thursday to Sunday throughout the day.
Cast Iron Majestic Stag £800-1200
Although I didn’t intend to buy anything I did pick out a few items online to view when I arrived. I wanted to see if the pictures did them justice and found that they looked the same in the flesh (or the metal, wood, etc.!). I was also interested in how much the items would sell for. So I picked one lot to follow, a Ralph Lauren Bankers Lamp in brass, which was estimated at £200-300. It sold for £250, which was exactly the average value. I would have bought this lamp if I had the room at home, but sadly I don’t.
Ralph Lauren Brass Bankers Lamp £200-300
The auction takes place in the viewing room so when it’s time plonk yourself down on a sofa or chair and enjoy the ride. I was quite surprised at how casual everything was – people were chatting while the auction was in progress and the odd mobile phone ring tone could be heard. When the auction starts, it goes along pretty quickly. If you intend to bid on an item near the end of the auction, then check the brochure for approximate times of lots. For example, lot 60 starts at 12.30 pm and lot 120 at 1 pm.
Cast Metal Moose Head Wall Plaques with Bells £140-240
Some important things to be aware of if you are bidding; you must settle your account within 24 hours, so don’t go too crazy if your bank account can’t take the strain! You pay a buyer’s premium on top of your purchase of 24% which includes VAT so do your calculations in advance. There are also royalty fees for artists so if you’re interested in a painting, read the details before you bid. You have to collect your items before 1 pm on Tuesday otherwise you’ll incur storage charges.
Five Drawer Mirrored Chest £370-£570
I found the whole event very enjoyable. It’s a great place to pick up some unique and exciting pieces. The punters were a mixed bag, and I even spotted someone famous. It wasn’t particularly packed and isn’t at all daunting, although I’m sure if you’re bidding it could get a bit hairy. You should try to go to an auction, even if it’s just once because it’s something different to do at the weekend and you’ll find some unique gems.
Venetian Style Cushion Mirror £200-300
Information About Lots Road Furniture Auctions
Lots Road Auctions has been running since 1979. It’s located at 71 Lots Road, Chelsea SW10 ORN. The closest station is Imperial Wharf railway, or you can go to Sloane Square tube and get a bus down King’s Road (which is a very long road to walk along). We didn’t find many eateries open in the vicinity on a Sunday morning so you might take some refreshments with you.
Lots Road Auctions Chelsea
Auction times are Sunday noon and also at 3 pm. Viewing times are Wednesday 6 pm until 8 pm, Thursday 9 am until 6 pm, Friday 9 am until 5 pm, Saturday 10 am until 5 pm and Sunday from 9 am.
Furniture Auctions at Lots Road
If you can’t attend the sale in person there are plenty of other ways to make a bid – you can leave an Absentee Commission Bid, bid via the internet which is called a Live Bid, Telephone Bid or Fax Bid.
Furniture Auctions Research
As I mentioned, I conducted my research via Barnebys, which is the best place to discover furniture auctions plus many more. This smart concept launched in Scandinavia in 2011 and is now the leading online search service for fine arts and antiques. You’ll find the gold star auction houses, regional and specialist houses all in one place. Aside from the UK, it also lists auctions in Europe, Nordics and USA. You’ll find between 70000-100000 unique items daily, so that’s a lot to view. The good news is that if you register at Barnebys, you can narrow down your search and get alerts for items you’re interested in. So what are you waiting for? Don’t delay, register today.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London. Thanks to Alan Russell for accompanying me.