Header Photo: Emma Gurner from Folds Inside interior design studio picture showing the stunning dining room from 'The House' project; her eclectic schemes effortlessly mix modern and vintage styles together.
Welcome to Slow Space Living blog where you will find all things reusable, recyclable, and renewable in the world of interiors and décor. When we started our business, we always wanted to create a blog where we could share our knowledge and passion for renovating furniture and our home, championing those who love to refurbish and style old with new.
We know some of you out there want to buy something turnkey ready restored for your home and some of you want to have a go yourselves either to explore your creative talents or to manage a budget. So, this blog will cater for both parties and aims to help you style your home with beautiful antique, vintage or thrifted pieces, learning how to mix new things you already have in your abode effortlessly with old items.
Photo: Elliotts of Newbury mid-century zebrano and rosewood dressing table designed in the 1960s paired well with a Josef Hoffmann Prague chair originally designed in 1920s made by Thonet; all restored by Gruffertys
The blog also aims to promote more eco-friendly interior options and assist people in making informed decisions about the purchases for their homes – whether old or new. We want to help create spaces which promote happiness, serenity, and well-being plus reflect on the impact our interior choices have on the planet today.
We also plan to explore ideas for interiors and designers covering different genres – so whether relaxed rustic vouge, japandi or cottagecore is your style or alternatives like vintage eclectic, maximalism or modernist is more your vibe we want to have all aspects covered. To us building a home is about putting things you love into it and making sure they have minimal impact on Mother Earth.
Our home renovation journey has been a long one, which we are still on, extending our 1960s house since January 2019 (which we purchased six years earlier to that so we’ve been living with a peach 1980s bathroom until recently). When we started, we always knew we were ambitious, likely to run out of funds and for it to take a while – but this was our forever pad, so we were happy to let it grow overtime. We also made a commitment to try where we could to buy second-hand, surplus to requirement or energy saving; one to save money but more importantly to minimise the impact on the environment.
So, we are all about building a home organically and slowly overtime rather than rushing the process. There is a great article in the Sunday Times on Slow Interiors which explores how we can approach the way we live in more thoughtful ways. Covid, dare I say it, has also changed how we think about our interiors as outlined in the recent blog post by Architectural Digest on What COVID-19 Will Mean for Design Trends in 2021. Personally, we love slow design as it focuses on process, origin and materials, while valuing the environment and the individual.
Photo: Amanda Brooks English country style home as shown in Architectural Digest explaining how Covid has changed how we think about our homes.
My personal renovation passion started at a young age, restoring a pine chest of drawers at the age of 13 years-old in 1983 which my grandfather had in the back of his garage. I still have that chest of drawers today and would not sell it for the world as it reminds me of what I love doing and my renovation journey (which I did lose for a while back in the late 1990s but that is another story for later). I was one of only three girls in our year to do woodwork back in 1984 (the other two being identical twins) and was lucky enough to do work experience (thanks to my amazing and inspiring dad) working in the restoration workshop of John Bly from the Antiques Roadshow (where the smell of wood and polish was amazing). I then went on to study at the London College of Furniture in the East End of London learning about design, manufacturing, and restoration (where I finally found lots of other girls just as passionate as me about furniture). I am all for championing women in the furniture and restoration industry, showing younger people starting on this journey how fulfilling design and renovation can be as a career.
After college I then went on to restore Indian and French antiques for The Conran Shop in South Kensington sourced by Sophie Conran. Even back in the early 1990s Conran’s was mixing classic designer pieces with antique and vintage furniture to give spaces that unique eclectic look. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to restore for them after someone heard that I studied furniture restoration, where I worked in the fabric and furniture department - there was a broken Indian antique thakat table on the shop floor – so with just a drill and blunt drill bit, piece of dowel, wood glue and some dirt from the loading bay floor fixed it perfectly to be sold and live another day. Obviously, I went on to use more skilful techniques and better tools restoring their antiques which I carried on renovating for four years with my then boyfriend who I met at college.
Photo: Inside The Conran Shop in their Marylebone store which since the 1970s has been showing how to mix new, classic and vintage / antique pieces together to give a room that eclectic edge.
It is funny how trends come back and that now mixing old and new is back in vogue again with many interior designers like Nicola Harding, Fiona Duke, Rachel Chudley and Emma Gurner using this technique in their designs, whether its for high end clients or us Average Joes. These designers are a great source of inspiration when you are doing your own home. I use them lots for ideas and inspiration when we are restoring or repurposing pieces for our online store Gruffertys and for our home.
I love how Nicola Harding put is recently on The Great Indoors podcast by Mad About the House, Kate Watson-Smyth and Sophie Robinson Interiors (another great inspiration for slow grown interiors). Nicola gives a great tip, among many on the show (episode 4 broadcast 25th February 2021) – especially when Sophie asks her what is the tip for mixing old and new furniture and homewares:
“It’s a sort of cheap trick really, it’s a short cut to giving a room a sense of permanence so that it’s got a foot in yesterday and foot in today – thus making it hard to date overtime”.
Nicola Harding & Co
I think this is very true that by mixing up styles, rooms looks less dated; whereas if you have all the same style, such as mid century or scandi, this can look very dated quickly as styles change. Plus, mixing styles will create atmosphere in your interiors, show your personality and save you money. As trendy ‘en vogue’ antiques and vintage will always be pricey and if purchased at the top of the peak will devalue quickly once the next trend takes hold. I know there is a knack to mixing old and new so we will make sure we feature these types of interior designers on the blog. We will also tell you what we love about them and what tips and tricks we and they use to get it right. We will also cover sourcing and where to find good items moreover how you can navigate auctions when bidding for pieces.
Photo: Nicola Harding interior design from her Everington House project who is brilliantly talented at mixing old and new styles.
Getting the balance right when restoring is tricky and every piece which comes into the workshop we consider first does it need a light touch (to leave the patina) or does it need a little bit of help to turn it from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan (obviously giving it the Grufferty high quality twist to stand out from the crowd). Where possible we like to use traditional techniques when repurposing; as even some antiques over the years have had an upgrade or facelift, which is why you get great Victorian pieces which have been painted in the late 19th century and now have the most amazing patina. So, we also plan to give you tutorials on the blog on how to restore or repurpose and what to do and not do when renovating furniture.
We will also be doing room tours of our home and walking you through how we renovated our 1960s house on a budget. We like to use an ethical approach; both by using old and if new make sure that it comes from sustainable sources. I must say it saddens me that the high street brands have jumped on the mid-century bandwagon, selling blatant copies plagiarised from this period which is cheaply made, lasts five minutes destined for landfill, comes from unethical sources and exploits others. This is especially when there is so much old furniture and homewares beautifully restored out there which can be purchased from marketplaces like Vinterior and Etsy (where we also sell our stuff on as we love these platform) or found on eBay and Facebook Marketplace if you want to have a go yourself bringing a piece back to life. I will do a blog on that topic too and why you should buy vintage and what to look out for when buying a restored or unrestored piece for your home.
Photo: Fiona Duke interior design from her Red Brick Detached project who has beautifully mixed Josef Hoffman Prague Thonet chairs with a turn of the century French farm house table and bench.
So, we hope you will follow us on the Slow Space Living blog journey, and we inspire you to create a home which is homely, environmentally friendly and creates well-being for you and your family plus gives your interiors atmosphere.
We are looking forward to sharing this journey and our knowledge with you all.
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