My best auction buy: Patrick O’Donnell

Patrick O’Donnell, Brand ambassador for Farrow & Ball

Patrick O’Donnell

International Brand Ambassador for Farrow & Ball, Patrick O’Donnell

As International Brand Ambassador for Farrow & Ball, Patrick O’Donnell knows all about the importance of colour in interior design. He also knows a thing or two about the charm of antiques. We talked to him about his love of finding unique pieces at auction and his own favourite auction buy.

What is your favourite item you’ve bought at auction?

This was really tricky to narrow down as everything I have bought at auction has primarily been motivated through a love for them (or having the perfect spot in mind) but my favourite item is a chest-on-chest bought through at Clevedon auction rooms in Somerset in 2019. It was marked as 19th Century with some Chippendale motifs on the frieze. I don’t think people realise what good value buying antiques can be….


The chest-on-chest bought by Patrick O’Donnell through in 2019, shown in situ in his home.

Why do you love it so much?

I love large scale furniture in small spaces and have always wanted a chest-on-chest so this ticked a lot of boxes. It’s a good decorative piece and fundamentally an incredibly useful item of furniture. It adds height to the room and a lovely focal point!

And why antique over new?

Brown furniture can be such good value compared to newer (poorly made) contemporary furniture at a similar price point (depending on condition). There is an integrity to it and you get that lovely patina.

Even with delivery, this worked out cheaper than a lot of pieces you see for sale through the usual retail environment. Even the odd splitting of the grain down the sides has a charm, and some veneer has gone awry, but that all adds to character. I’m not a fan of ‘new’ as a rule and what better way to recycle than use furniture that still looks beautiful after 100/200 years of wear & tear?

Any surprising stories about it?

I have a bit of a clothing fetish so given the height and scale, I even have the luxury of a drawer solely for pocket squares!

Where is it now?

In my bedroom at home (with plenty of other items bought through local auctions or thesaleroom).

Do you have any other treasured auction finds?

Yes – this collection of plates was bought through (at Semley Auctions) and quite a few pieces of furniture in my spare bedroom room (pictured below) were bought at auction, too.

Patrick is International Brand Ambassador for Farrow & Ball, fostering relationships between the famous paint company and the designers and decorators who use its products to bring clients’ homes to life. You can find more about Patrick’s work at Farrow & Ball on their website as well as oodles of inspiration on all things colour, antiques and interiors from Patrick on his Instagram account.

If you like Patrick’s chest-on-chest you can find similar items listed now on, or have a browse for decorative pieces like his majolica green leaf plates.



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