I am on the look out for some inspiration for a kitchen overhaul in a Victorian terrace in Northwest London. I want to honour the building’s past, while reflecting the present way we live, and our character. Last week, I was way out west in North Wales. Having spent the morning admiring the Champion trees (those trees that are exceptional examples of their species) and snow drops at Bodnant Gardens, we made a beeline for Drew Pritchard’s Architectural Antiques.
Drew, well-known as the present of Quest TV’s Salvage Hunters, deals in garden, architectural and decorative antiques and lighting from his HQ just south of Llandudno in North Wales. The warehouse, come restoration workshop, come showroom is clad in reclaimed boards, the perfect backdrop to the eclectic mix of finds. The magical Art Nouveau mantelpiece I had been coveting over Christmas had sold, but I swiftly fell for the huge drapers counter, pictured above, made from mahogany with pine drawers and shelves. The draper’s measure is still embedded in the countertop. The perfect centrepiece for my new kitchen, if only it were not 3 metres wide!
At the door, we are politely reminded antiques are green. Buying antiques is much more than simply recycling. Buying a piece of furniture with history, and character is continuing a story, and adding your own twist. The materials and craftsmanship in many pieces of vintage and antique furniture are now in scarce supply. The pieces have been made to last, and the wear and tear they have acquired on the way are testament to their function and often enhance their form.
To my great delight, Drew Pritchard has just taken over the East gallery on the fourth floor of Liberty’s. The gallery has a number of windowed alcoves that lend themselves as room sets.
There is an Orkney chair calling you to rest a moment and take in the selection of for sale from the sublime set of Aesthetic Carved Oak Doors to the almost comic stone corgi. I urge you to sneak a peek if you are in the West End. You never know what you might find.
My eldest daughter is almost able to dress herself, and to incentivise her to put the clothes away as neatly as she puts them on, I gave this mid-century dressing table a facelift.
We bought the Uniflex dressing table, along with a couple of bedside tables at Sunbury Antiques Market. The dressing table had been in the sun, and the varnish had turned a fairly unattractive yellow. A through sanding revealed the fantastic colour and grain of the walnut veneer. It took an afternoon of elbow grease in the garden to sand the dressing table down. Then all that was needed was a few of coats in a matt varnish in the kitchen (out of the rain) once the kids were in bed. I used the Auro matt varnish, which is water-thinned, free of solvents and wood preservatives and made of environmentally friendly raw materials such as linseed and rapeseed oils. I shall spare you a full list of ingredients, but safe to say my daughter’s bedroom is not the place for VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
My tool for the job was a professional quality Ecoezee 2 inch paint brush. The brushes handles are made from bamboo, which is lighter than oak, highly durable and a fast growing, sustainable natural resource. The brush filaments are a mix of recycled natural and synthetic bristle designed to work well with all paint types (I can vouch for varnish and chalk paint so far). The ferrule (the band attaching the filament to the brush) is made from recycled stainless steel. The packaging is recycled cardboard and a donation is made to rainforest conservation for every brush sold. The brushes are widely available from Travis Perkins as well as other retailers, such as the Eco Home Centre.
We are all impressed with the results. The dressing table is now full of my 3 and 3/4 year old’s essentials, including cress seeds germinating in eggs shells in the cupboard before the rest of her t-shirts are moved in!
They say the early birds catches the best worm, and there was a flock of them at Sunbury Antiques Market when it opened at 6.30am this morning. The antiques market takes place at Kempton Park twice a month, on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. With free parking, and free admission, if you can brave an early start, you have your pick of over 700 stalls (350 indoor and 350 outdoor) selling a wide range of antiques including furniture, gold and silverware, jewellery, ceramics, vintage fashion, garden pieces, paintings, books and much more. Later in the day there is plenty for the casual browser, but at dawn there was purpose in the air. As well as trade dealers, we also saw general collectors, prop buyers, interior designers. Our task for the day was to find some furniture to kit out carefully curated’s first project. We struck a bit too early on a folding table, but made up for it with a hard bargain on a couple of bedside tables and matching dresser. My favourite find of the morning was some botanical prints, a last flash of summer, before autumn arrives.
This restored chandelier is made from original vintage drops that have been reworked to create a beautiful, unique light that is a real centrepiece in our living room. The mix of different warm tones are picked up by other decorative elements in the room. We bought the fully, refurbished chandelier at Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair, the largest fair in the south of England, which is held twice a month. If you fancy a rummage for vintage treasures, the next fair is next week, Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th September, 2013. For more information, future dates and list of other similar fairs visit the IACF (International Antiques and Collectors Fairs) website.
Similar vintage chandeliers are available to buy, or even splash out and commission your own from The Vintage Chandelier Company.