Let’s get physical

©Simon Wharton Antiques

As the leaves start to fall, it’s time to feel again with a plethora of physical decorative antiques fairs in the diary. 

The last eighteen months have been challenging, but thanks to an unwavering business drive, digital community (and sales!) the architectural salvage and decorative antiques industries will emerge stronger. Bath Decorative Antiques Fair will be an opportunity to see familiar faces, and new faces with more and more people on the lookout for personality pieces. If you are new to the antiques fair scene then Bath is a great one as it is both fiercely stylish and friendly. 

©Simon Wharton Antiques

Bath Decorative Antiques Fair has a special buzz about it, as returning exhibitor, Simon Wharton Antiques describes it, and the holiday atmosphere that charms anyone exhibiting or visiting the event. Here, Simon Wharton and Geraint Jones, co-founder of Greencore Design which is showing at Bath Decorative for the first time, share reasons to get excited for the next instalment. 

“Digital saved me during Covid,” says Simon, with antiques at a hand’s reach as people shopped from smartphones on their sofas, but “there’s no substitution for meeting people in the flesh.” People are excited to be handling things face to face again, and nothing awakens our senses like feeling the character and hearing the stories from the people that discovered these one-off pieces. Anecdotes include unforgettable fireplace rescue missions, where Simon recalls one particularly hilarious time, with the benefit of hindsight. “We had to let it down a ladder from the window” he describes, having survived being at the bottom as two guys with a combined age of 160 lowered the ropes on a fireplace travelling towards him. 

©Simon Wharton Antiques

Moving magnificent chimneypieces goes with the territory, as Simon’s signature is architectural antiques, stone fireplaces, and boy does he know how to dress them – with decorative and garden delights that complete his collection. The setting of Bath Decorative lends itself to some serious stand decoration, so even just walking around will give you ideas and good connections. I’ll never forget seeing one of Simon’s displays at Bath for the first time. 

Despite the changes that Brexit brought about, nothing has changed business like the pandemic. Simon saw his best August for fireplaces yet, and there is an increasing demand from customers in the countryside in France, as people everywhere opt for a life outside of the city. As well as a strong customer base both sides of the channel, they continue to come from as far as Australia and America. If a desire for eco-friendly design is partly driving your visit to Bath Decorative then you might be interested to know that even Simon’s heaviest antiques could be shipped to America and still save more energy than the embodied carbon cost of making a new fireplace. We know because me and Salvo have been doing tonnes of work on carbon and reclamation this year.

Antique French oak table ©Greencore Design

The attraction to antiques and the urge to design with tactile treasures is also influencing restoration trends with interior designers and other customers seeking unrestored or a lighter touch and less polish. But as Geraint of Greencore Design explains, that doesn’t equal less attention to detail. “Each piece is ‘house ready’ whether it be an old industrial piece or a high end designer piece, we pride ourselves on each item being clean, sound and ready to enjoy. ‘Patina’ does not equal dirt and ‘character’ does not equal a wobbly leg or a broken drawer.”

If you are looking for quality, craftsmanship and a design mash-up that mixes an 18th-century country house piece with a sixties leather chair then you’ll enjoy seeing Greencore Design’s first showing at Bath.

Mid-century modern armchairs by Pieff of Worcester ©Greencore Design
Primitive farmhouse bench seat ©Greencore Design

The company has been trading since 2005, having had a career in architectural cast iron and restoration work on historic buildings, they were initially involved in architectural salvage. “The one great thing in this business is that you never quite know where you will be next,” says Geraint, who rebranded and launched Greencore Design in 2019 with a focus on decorative antiques and vintage furniture. 

Constantly striving to achieve the “right look and feel”, Greencore Design always has some Welsh staples. Geraint explains Wales has it all, from large manor houses to farmhouses, to industrial, which explains why so many of us are falling for Welsh antiques.

“A lot of traditional Welsh furniture has a simplicity and naivety to it which makes them versatile. Very often made from local wood, especially oak so it lasts forever. Interior designers have really embraced antique and vintage furniture and increasingly using new and old alongside each other, which is great to see, both from design viewpoint and the environment.”

Antique Welsh blanket ©Greencore Design

Green to the core, Geraint shows me how they incorporated elements of reclaimed stone into their new build. This got me excited as a sign of where our built environments could expand on what the antiques industry is doing so brilliantly in breaking down the barriers of what eras should sit with what. 

Rules certainly went out of the window in Geraint’s recent rescue of a pair of aesthetic hall lanterns. 

Lanterns before restoration ©Greencore Design

“They were in a sorry state but working with Jolene Farmer Studio, we managed to bring them back to life. The glass proved tricky, I was keen to use some 19th-century glass we had in stock, previously salvaged from a Welsh Church dating to 1860. The glass was a large single pane with a beautiful cross pattern, and the restoration work required us to precisely cut the glazed panel into smaller pieces to fit the faceted lantern sides. Enlisting the expertise of Jolene Farmer we set about finding someone to cut the glass, Jolene had tried all her contacts in London but they all refused on the ground that they could not guarantee that the glass could be cut due to the age and complexity of the glass. In the end, we found someone in Dorset, who worked on old churches and was confident in cutting the glass. The skill and effort that goes into the restoration cannot be underestimated, the cost is also high but it’s an important part of the industry and is essential to save pieces from being lost forever.”

Welsh Church glass cut by Jamie Clark for the restoration ©Greencore Design
Lanterns after restoration ©Greencore Design

See Simon Wharton Antiques and Greencore Design at Bath Decorative Antiques Fair. Here are the details you need to know: 

Bath Decorative Antiques Fair
Date: 22-24 October 2021. Open 11am – 5pm
TRADE PREVIEW Thursday 21 October. Open 12noon – 5pm
Venue: The Pavilion, North Parade Road, Bath, BA2 4EU

Get your tickets here

Salvo Fest of imperfect beauty

Save the dates 16 – 19 June 2021 because the original architectural salvage fair has found its new home, with the best bits of the virtual and real world to toast Salvo’s 30th Pearl Anniversary.

Seven years ago I hadn’t even stepped foot inside a salvage yard, so my renovation took me on a complete education, and Salvo became my go-to resource to find reclaimed materials for my home. Now I am a fully fledged member of the Salvo team, and our upcoming festival is a celebration of reclamation and reuse, Salvo’s last thirty years, and also a taste of the next flirtiest chapter.

As well as architectural salvage, antiques and reclaimed building materials, we are introducing vintage and recrafted fashion for Salvo’s Pearl Anniversary. Slowly, but surely, we are growing Salvo as the destination for reuse to help you not only build, but dress your home and yourself for the world you want.

Our vision represents my belief that the choices we make for ourselves and our homes are so interconnected, as that was my experience and the guiding light behind Reclaimed Woman. Renovating my home with reclaimed, eco-friendly materials gave me daily inspiration to make bigger changes in all areas of my life. With so much in the world already, I am embracing reuse as a lifestyle. For me, some of the most exciting eco fashion out there is either reimagined vintage or upcycled, so I am thrilled to share the designers, makers and collectors that rock this area of the sustainable fashion scene.

We-ResonateSalvo Fest fashion exhibitor

Imperfect beauty is our festival theme, as an ode to Salvo’s Pearl Anniversary.  The concept of perfection is inspiring much debate and the diversification of what the world considers beautiful can only be good – encouraging more reuse.  Our special Pearl Anniversary edit will feature one of a kind garden, fashion and interiors from 60s Dior earrings to Rococo fireplaces to mismatched harlequin flooring. 

Register here for the 24 hour Trade Day preview or the first look at the festival line-up of digital events, plus a handful of real world pop-ups.

60s Dior koi fish earrings from ethazonSalvo Fest Pearl Anniversary edit

Salvofair.com

Reclaimed Woman gifts full of goodness

Reclaimed Eames style leather office chair to make a loved one more comfy wfh. Architectural Forum on Salvo

Organic & Botanic Madagascan coconut rejuvenating night moisturiser Dr Botanicals

Reclaimed vintage silks headband by War & Drobe + We-Resonate. See more styles from the latest collaboration on War & Drobe

House shoes never needed to make us feel chic, so thanks Birdsong for creating these reclaimed leather slippers. [Order before the 26th November to get them in time for Christmas in the UK]

1960s Charles Jourdan mock lizard bag in our latest thrifte edit on ethazon. Follow our private account or message me for details

May you make extra merry this Christmas 🥰

1960s Paris Fashion photos by French Finds under CC by 2.0 license, Old Fashioned Christmas Tree photo by Catherine Clarke under CC by-SA 2.0 license

How to shop art now

Kissing Couple silver brooch ©Modern Decorative

The moment we’re experiencing is quite rightly making us pause for thought, what should we be buying if we feel we can spend money right now? No matter what the pandemic has done for your personal budget for life’s decorative things, I think we all want our purchases to be more purposeful. Cue art and objects that add to our lives on the daily.

I recently discovered Modern Decorative, a unique online gallery that sells undiscovered art and antiques. With handy extra eyes from his father, Gary Jackson, who was in the antique business for years before becoming a painter, the founder Joe spots underrated and underpriced pieces for his thoughtful collection. Unlike my usual knack for eyeing the exact items that sit way outside of my price range, the silver kissing couple brooch above and 1970s etching below are both around the one hundred pounds mark. The etching is signed, but Joe and his father Gary take the philosophy that the best signature is the painting itself.

“Behind every painting, there’s a soul, a person who loves to paint, a life story that will influence the work no matter how abstract that influence is.”

Gary Jackson, Modern Decorative

Etching with Nude Figures and Abstract Design ©Modern Decorative

For me buying art is a distinctive way to identify a moment in time, like when I moved into the first home of my own and soon bought a piece of urban art that matched my first big salvage purchase, plus encapsulated my emotions during that period. Sometimes you’re looking for something for a particular space and other times the right piece just finds you.

When buying art and decorative pieces to dress your home, I think it’s important to only go for what you really really, let’s throw another really in there, love. It’s good to ask yourself how much do I love it? Sometimes you know instantly and at a market, it’s tempting and sometimes necessary to act on immediate impulse, but the benefit of shopping online gives you the chance to scroll, and see a piece in the place you intend for it to live. Just take a look at Modern Decorative’s Instagram if you have any doubt that a photograph can capture the mood and texture of a painting.

Detail by Gustavo Carbó Berthold ©Modern Decorative & Detail of Abstract above ©Modern Decorative

The secondary art market suits an increasing appetite amongst young, highly visual art appreciators that can discover and own originals at a good value. There is not currently much demand for 19th-century art, but it can look unexpectedly exquisite in a modern setting. If you want to reject the fashion for 20th-century modern pieces then something like this watercolour could put you ahead of style’s pendulum swing.

Detail of watercolour of woman ©Modern Decorative

I enjoyed virtually escaping through their feed of natural landscapes and one particular sunny still life with flowers, which is as close as I am getting to the Mediterranean for a while. Before the pandemic, Joe luckily expanded from London to a studio space in Barcelona, which in normal times gives him a perfect position to source works between Spain and France.

Detail of still life ©Modern Decorative

From a market stall in my hood on Portobello Road, Gary and his twin brother Paul used to deal in antiques together, and Joe would help out from an early age. Paul now specialises in twentieth-century Scandinavian design from Stockholm with his business Jackson Design AB. The twins’ other brother Simon started restoring in their dad’s garage before winning a scholarship to West Dean, where he met his wife, and now Simon and Frauke restore and sell antique and Mid-mod furniture in Bath. From sleek to classic to delightfully unusual, the eye is strong in this family.

No dates are in the diary yet, but if you are eager to exercise your eyes in the real world then check the website to see Modern Decorative at fairs in the future.

© Photographs courtesy of Modern Decorative

ethazon

Wearing accessories from my new carbon conscious label ethazon

When Beck and I first came together to create ethazon we desired an eco fashion place for people to dress for the world they want. Fast forward two years and we have seen a flurry of fashion trying to clean up its act, which is great for the movement, but with sustainability suddenly the word of the moment it is even harder to separate the green from the washing, so our founding mission is potentially more apt now than ever.

ethazon is about taste and transparency. We’re building an eco fashion place for people to dress deliberately from carefully selected designers and makers. We’re still working on our website, but we’ve launched a private Instagram so that followers get the first look at our recrafted accessories and thrifte vintage, whilst bigger collaborations with designers in eco fashion and dealers in reclaimed interiors are on the horizon. 

If like us you’re emerging from lockdown conscious of the world in distress and are seeking a new look or a new outlook then join us. Follow @ethazon for our secret carbon conscious collection of things to dress yourself and your home. 

Becky wearing one our recrafted bags made of sixties towelling with reclaimed judo belt handles @ethazon
Me wearing thrifte vintage accessories from our upcoming edit @ethazon

© Photographs ethazon

Hot Hot Hot! Reclaimed Woman

How will fashion become fashionable again after lockdown? We are waiting to see if the expected shift to more conscious shopping will be accelerated following the reflection time that beings, brands and businesses have had to take in the bigger picture. Categories like locally made, vegan or organic are certainly popping up more frequently on shopping platforms, like the newly launched PARO STORE. But its most compelling component is that you can tell the founders, Ruth and Zoe chose the brands because they personally want to shop from them. The progressive offering ranges from clothes and jewellery to independent magazines that shine fresh light on heavy issues like climate change.

PARO STORE edit, from the top:

Organic ribbed cotton Anai Bodysuit II by Aniela Parys

Hot hot hot! magazine Issue 3

Candy Person shorts and cardi by ULLAC oy

Recycled silver and oyster shell earrings by Mia Larsson

© Photographs courtesy of PARO STORE

wfh aka Wild From Home

Week three wfh and I am ready to be wild from home. The highlight of my weekend was singing Nirvana’s Teen Spirit whilst dancing around the lounge with my husband. “You call that wild? You need to get out more” I hear you say. Yes, I do. And one day I will. We all will. But until then I’m making my own conditioner with organic dried marshmallow root.

Stay safe, stay at home and stay wild.

Organic denim Day or Night unisex jacket Nok Nok

Mid-century Diamanté Fold Up Glasses Retro Spectacle

Organic dried marshmallow root Natural Spa Supplies

Mid-century teak chair with zebra print upholstery The Architectural Forum

Party dressing with ideas from Ardingly

I won’t try to dress-up the fact that this is consumption season and this week sets the spending scene with a bombardment of Black Friday offers.  Whether you are wrapping up your 2019 projects, buying gifts, or figuring out how to dress yourself and your home for Christmas, It is hard not to get caught in the seasonal rush.  

A clue that the current commerce cycle is a game that both producers and consumers are losing came with findings that Black Friday sales offer few real deals according to the consumer group Which?.  But shopping doesn’t have to be a dupe, and Christmas offers an opportunity to spend better, buy secondhand or support businesses that are making a difference.  

The tradition of making a list and checking it twice is a good habit if you are looking to be more conscious this Christmas.  You might think fairs aren’t a place to shop from a list, and it’s true that the magic they behold often comes from the crazy, unusual, beautiful things you could never have imagined, but it is still possible to check off a list and here is how Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair ticked my boxes. 

1. Salvage ancient crafts and antiques that bring an aged glow. The stands are a great way to get festive decor ideas to set the scene.  

2. Rediscover the joy and excitement of children. Regular exhibitor, Linda North Antiques never fails to bring the magic with a rich, tactile display that could melt the heart of  the Grinch.

3. Get memorable gifts. Happy gifting guaranteed when you present your loved ones with a story to keep.  

4. And finally, a gift to self. Mine was a pair of day to evening shoes [pictured at the top] that will be perfect for the party season and still give me joy come January. I found these seventies shoes by Shellys, the British brand that used to stomp the streets of London’s Carnaby Street.  

This was the last Ardingly of the year, but you better not cry, you better not pout because the next IACF Fair is Alexandra Palace Antiques & Collectors Fair and it’s coming to town this Sunday 1st December 2019. 

© Photographs Reclaimed Woman

Clean cleaning with Norfolk Natural Living

“You’re going to open a cleaning shop?!” questioned Bella Middleton’s mum when she came up with the idea to create eco-friendly cleaning products.  Now a fully fledged member of the Norfolk Natural Living team, Bella’s mum works in their shop in Holt, which has maintained one of Norfolk’s unique high streets.

Clean, like green is currently trending, but Bella delved into cleaning’s past to develop her natural formulas.  We’re hearing more stories about the murky supply chains behind some products driving the clean living scene, so it is reassuring to know that Bella sources ingredients from skilled British artisans – from local lavender fields to English beeswax. Everything is mixed, bottled and labelled by hand in (as the brand name suggests) Norfolk and each ingredient is fully traceable.  

See Bella’s ‘how to clean silk’ guide

Respect for materials runs in the family, from her sister with roots in ethical fashion design to her granny, who was a costume designer.  Bella still has many vintage pieces from her grandmother’s collection and evidently loves vintage as much as I do, but also gets excited by the cleaning challenges presented by vintage garments and different old fabrics: “I’m constantly on a journey” says Bella.

Family was also a driving force behind the conception of Norfolk Natural Living.  Having children made Bella think even more about the clothes we pass through generations and so wanted to create an heirloom-worthy garment and home care brand, designed to care.

Me and Norfolk Natural Living handling a 1940s silk

Of course the cleaning collection is not just for special pieces, as whether vintage or new, the biggest environmental impact of everything we wear is most likely to come from how we care for it and wash it.  The better we look after things, the more sustainable the contents of our homes and wardrobes and that means washing things less often, cue Norfolk Natural Living’s handy range of refreshers, like one dedicated to denim.

There’s a lot to take in with the sustainability seashore of choices that impact things in different ways, so Bella’s aim was to keep things simple with products that are naturally potent, not preachy, look good and to provide proper instructions on how to use them. 

Combining modern scientific research and age-old techniques, the first creation was scented vinegar.  However, if you’re after fish and chip scents then you might like to head to Holt for Eric’s sustainable MSC-certified fish instead, because Bella’s all-purpose vinegar cleaner is scented with natural essential oils.

“I wanted to create a product that does all the things it’s supposed to do and do it really well, but also in a way that’s desirable.” [Which I can vouch for because after using the scented vinegar for the first time my husband walked into our bathroom and said how great it smelled; and before you think our household is stuck in the era of my vintage silks, we each have our cleaning domains – his is the kitchen and mine is the bathroom]

Projects in the works for Bella include renovating her kitchen and looking for a second shop in Holt, so that they can also hold workshops. Recently mulling over the purchase of an antique kitchen table marked with children’s names, Bella and I agree that there is a happy balance between clean and not too clean, and that sometimes signs of life are what makes things. She wants to give people confidence to take care of things in a natural way:

“Clothes can change your attitude and it’s good to know that they’ll last so you can wear them and enjoy them without worrying…let them live.”

Shop Norfolk Natural Living

© Photographs courtesy of Norfolk Natural Living & Reclaimed Woman

Fashion statements from Manchester and a sustainable British summer

Reclaimed materials at Alberts Schloss in Manchester © Insitu Architectural Salvage

The Manchester-based fast fashion retailer, Missguided recently made headlines for the wrong reasons with a £1 bikini. Depending on which side of the sun lounger you woke up on, you will either be disappointed you missed the bargain or angry, alongside MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that just had proposals like a 1p fashion tax to raise millions for better clothing recycling rejected.  

Despite the success of rapid fashion, trends are also moving towards investment purchases like well-being, live music and food experiences that will feed our souls. Insitu Architectural Salvage shared a few projects, including Manchester’s independent bar and gig venue Jimmy’s, who is now opening a site in Liverpool Docks and the neighbourhood Neapolitan pizzeria, Rudy’s who also has a new site in Liverpool. 

Reclaimed lighting from Insitu Architectural Salvage © Rudy’s

Sustainability is influencing a number of industries, from construction to fashion and food. However, it is not simply about an environmental angle, as restaurants fashioned with truly reclaimed maple strip flooring, seating and lighting build a story and bring authenticity to your scene. 

Salvaged furniture designed to be used outside can add a natural transition from the home to the garden and folding designs are also great for small outdoor spaces like mine. I bought the school bench [pictured above on the left] from Insitu a few years ago – perfect for city living.

Here are some of my picks of sustainable British fashion alongside furniture from Insitu. Now we just need some swimwear weather that is not missguided.

ECONYL® regenerated yarn swimsuit AURIA x Ashley Williams

Dhalia headband printed using water-based inks that are non-toxic War & Drobe

Reclaimed café chair [part of a set] Insitu Architectural Salvage

Hurler 2 organic cotton sneakers Good News

The Madonna and Child pendant in salvaged sterling silver  Lylies

British leather wash bag Padfield