Psychedelic 1960s lamps, mahogany side-tables and vibrant Persian rugs: Ros Brennan reveals the lesser-known Sydney stores with wall-to-wall vintage treasures.

 A saunter through the shopping precincts in Paddington or Double Bay, complete with immaculate cafes and well-heeled residents, might have you thinking vintage shops are a rarity in the sparkling harbour city. Like many things in Sydney, you need to scratch a little below the shiny exterior to discover its rarest gems. Venture a little further west to the 'burbs of Newtown, Marrickville and Alexandria, and you'll find thrift shops, antique stores and record shops to rival any bohemian 'hood in the world. 

Unlike the homogenous, catalogue-perfect aesthetic of chain stores, pre-loved furniture stores are a little rough around the edges. Just like the warm, welcoming rush of entering a second-hand book-store, there is something about being surrounded by hundreds of centuries-old artefacts that fills your soul. Your imagination runs wild knowing that every single piece tells a story - time-worn gems that have weathered the ages and experienced their own adventurous hijinks: adorning the walls of a Marrakech riad filled with vagabond travellers, witnessing holy rituals in an Indian temple or watching silently as grapes ferment in an Italian wine cellar. 

As is often the case with shopping trends: the renaissance of vintage back into the mainstream mirrors Gen Y's thirst for authenticity and individual expression. No longer purely an aesthetic decision; the way you decorate your home is a very personal reflection on your taste, social conscience and stance on important issues such as sustainability and the environment. And with the recent groundswell of news indicating that Australia is one of the most wasteful countries in the world, there's no better time to veer away from chain-store buys in favour of vintage and pre-loved treasures.

Click through the gallery to discover the best vintage haunts perfect for a Sunday afternoon stroll off the beaten track.

Trash to treasure: the vintage furniture lover’s guide to Sydney