I grew up in a beautiful Edwardian house on a leafy road in West London. I didn’t realise how much I loved living in that house until many years after we said goodbye to it. It was home for those important teenage years, holding memories, both good and bad, that will stay with me forever. It was full of old furniture my parents had brought over the years, magnolia walls, expensive exotic patterned wool rugs and soft furnishings of dark red velvet and dark green. I hated most of it and longed for a more modern existence, a world of white Ikea furniture and clean lines, a life without clutter (although my bedroom said otherwise).
I remember having to sit in the back of my dads open top Citroen 2CV holding on to this large old table from one side of London to the other, freezing cold hands gripping on to the table while the wind rushed through the car because the table was too big to fit in the car without the roof down. It was a teenagers hell, I hated being cold, I hated that aqua coloured Citroen 2CV (especially if dad dropped me to school in it) and I hated that table. I guess being a teenager meant I hated a lot of things about life in general. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t just get a new one delivered. Little did I know that years later, I would be coveting all things old, vintage, shabby chic, whatever you choose to call it, I love it. How did hate gradually turn into love without me even being aware of the transition? I wondered whether it was just my age but I really don’t think so. I still have no love for exotic patterned wool rugs and soft furnishings of dark red velvet and dark green so I haven’t turned into my parents just yet.
The first property my husband and I purchased was a fairly new flat, finally I was getting my wish. We filled it entirely with furniture from Ikea “Like everyone else, I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct. If I saw something like clever coffee tables in the shape of a yin and yang, I had to have it. I would flip through catalogs and wonder, “What kind of dining set defines me as a person?”.” (Fight Club, 1998). At first I loved it, I really did.
However, as the years went on I was craving an old property with quirky shaped rooms that were sometimes difficult to fit your furniture into. I wanted a property with character and after that, slowly, without my knowledge or consent, it happened. Over the last couple of years I have been gradually selling all my ‘new’ furniture and replacing it with used old furniture. It all started at a carboot sale. I was by myself selling my junk when I noticed a beautiful old mirror a few cars away. I watched all day and as it was still there when I was packing up, I just had to buy it. It needed a bit of tlc and I won’t pretend that I am any good at the tlc bit but luckily I have a really handy husband. It looked stunning on the fireplace and started my journey of charity shops, eBay, Gumtree etc and we now have some really lovely pieces. Mixing old with new to perfectly complement each other. Suddenly I started to appreciate the workmanship that had gone into every piece. I like the idea that this furniture has had a life before me , that it had witnessed the highs and lows of another family. I hate to admit it but I guess it was my predetermined destiny to love old things, old furniture, old houses and there was only so long I could fight against that.