Bidding for Beauty: The Art of Auction Finds with Carina Harford

In the dynamic world of interior design, where trends come and go in the blink of an eye, Carina Harford's unique approach shines as a beacon of timeless elegance and sustainability for her clients.

Carina Harfordhouse

Carina Harford.

Carina Harford, the visionary behind Harford House interior design consultancy, brings a passion for sustainability and longevity to her work. Her advocacy for high-quality vintage and antique pieces as central elements in her designs stems from a desire to inspire her younger Instagram audience to explore auctions as a treasure trove of unique finds, highlighting the potential for superior quality and reduced carbon emissions compared to mainstream options. 

Carina's journey into the world of auctions was born out of a desire to instill a sense of discovery and sustainability in her audience. Through her engaging presence on social media, particularly Instagram, she endeavours to inspire a new generation to embrace the allure of vintage and antique pieces found in auctions, challenging the notion that quality must be sacrificed for affordability. 

Here she talks to The Saleroom about her inspirations and her hopes for her business. 

Please tell us more about yourself, your passion for auctions, and what inspired you to share decor tips on social media. 

My work focuses on sustainability and longevity, so high-quality vintage and antique pieces are central to my process. I’ve been trying to inspire my younger Instagram audience to shop through auctions - many people my age don’t know about auctions and don’t realise they could do far better than Ikea in price and quality (and carbon emissions!) by buying vintage and antiques. 

Inspirations and Influences

How have specific artists, movements, or experiences shaped your artistic style, and if you had to describe your interior style in three words, what would they be? 

My interior style is very mixed and always responsive to the spaces and their occupants. I do not like to commit to any styles or periods, but I always lean toward a layered, lived-in look rather than anything too new or perfect. 

Favourite Auction Find

Could you recount a story about one of your favourite pieces acquired through The Saleroom, including what qualities or aspects attracted you to it, and where in your home you've chosen to display or use it? 

I designed an entire room around a Chinoiserie screen bought at an auction in Guernsey. It’s nearly three meters wide, has extraordinary details and colours, and acts as a wonderful focal point over the bed. 

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The bedside table, lamp and Chinoiserie screen were all purchased on The Saleroom.

Auction Experience

What attracts you to online auctions, and which aspects or categories of items do you find particularly enticing or thrilling compared to traditional furniture shopping or in-person antique hunting? 

I’m committed to creating interiors as sustainably as possible; so, in that regard, auctions make perfect sense for my work. Using The Saleroom allows me to search an enormous database in one hugely efficient place - it saves me, and my clients,’ time. I am always looking for vintage lighting (I’ve taught myself to do basic re-wiring which has been brilliant); I also keep an eye out for mid-price decorative art, small bedside tables (everyone always needs them, especially in London), and anything ‘folk’ looking. 


All lamps pictured were purchased on The Saleroom.

Image by Carina Harford.

Winning Bid Strategies

How do you strategically approach bidding in auctions, and what tactics or considerations do you employ to secure a winning bid? 

I tend to place a ‘max bid’ and then not check the bid - this prevents me from getting overly competitive. I usually place a slightly odd bid, so instead of £200 I’ll bid £210 because I think people often set a mental limit at a round hundred. 

Research and Preparation

Before participating in an auction, what level of research do you typically conduct, and what factors influence your decision to bid on a particular item? 

I research auction items to varying degrees depending on what they are. Google reverse image search can be especially useful to establish pricing references, and emailing or calling the auctioneer for further images and condition reports is standard for me. 

Style Recommendations

How would you describe the overarching style or theme of your collection, and do you actively seek diversity or focus on specific genres or periods?  

Additionally, for newcomers to auction buying, what advice would you offer to enhance their experience, and how do you balance personal preferences with investment potential when making a purchase? 

I think collecting should be all about what you like, not what’s popular or branded or easily resalable.  

Clients often worry about different pieces ‘working’ together, but I think that if you really love each individual item they will work as a group, with the through-line becoming clear over time. The joy of buying second-hand, vintage and antiques is that items reveal themselves to you - things you would never have thought to look for can suddenly reorient an entire room. There is such joy and fun to be had by allowing space for the unexpected. 

Top of Form 

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Carina Harford.

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Sofa, ottoman, chair, painting all were purchased on The Saleroom.

Carina’s journey through the world of interior design and auction buying is a testament to her unwavering commitment to sustainability, individuality, and the timeless allure of vintage treasures. From her eclectic mix of styles to her strategic approach to bidding and her dedication to research and preparation, Carina embodies a refreshing perspective that transcends fleeting trends and embraces the enduring beauty of each unique piece. 


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