Tag Archives: antiques

Surprisingly fabulous Frome!

2 Sep

I have to admit to being a tad depressed this weekend as my brocanting chums began posting photos of heaps of vintage wonderment at this year’s Braderie de Lille. However, on Sunday I picked myself up, wound on my scarf (it was the 1st of September after all) and drove over to Frome where the monthly Super Market was in full swing.

Now, growing up a Westcountry girl, it has to be said that Frome used to have a reputation as, well, a bit of a dive. Recently though, I keep hearing people I know to have impeccable taste talking about Frome wherever I turn, so it was high time I cast my preconceptions aside and checked out the transformation for myself.

And I am so glad I did!

Frome flea vintage market

vintage stall at Frome Flea market

vintage enamel Frome flea market

vintage telephone and kitchen storage jars Frome Flea

vintage antiques From Flea market Somerset

Frome Super Market is actually six mini markets wrapped up into one on the first Sunday of each month. I’m afraid I was dashing around so excitedly that I was overcome by a huge case of #bloggerfail and didn’t take any pictures of much beyond the first few stalls of the Frome Flea, but you’ll have to trust me that the Artisan Market and Farmer’s Market were also brimming with creative and tasty wares. While some towns might’ve been tempted to eek out all their events over the course of the month, the stroke of brilliance here is that instead they all happen on the same day with the whole town centre overtaken with stalls, live music and special Sunday opening of the many independent shops so there’s a definite festival atmosphere in the air.

Talking of shops…

St Catherines Hill shops Frome

{all Decorator’s Notebook}

The cobbled streets around St Catherine’s Hill have gained a reputation as Frome’s artisan quarter and drawn a wonderful array of independent vintage and craft shops with hipster levels to rival the coolest parts of Shoreditch (and thankfully much higher friendliness levels too). I didn’t have time to visit everyone, but here are some highlights from my first visit.

Frome’s Top Shops…

Make & Mend Vintage: a beautifully curated and displayed vintage clothing boutique with everything from ’30s crepe flapper dresses to lace wedding gowns. The colour blocked rails are especially pleasing.

Assembly: an intriguing mix of men’s clothing and homeware… although as a girl who loves utilitarian style, the Welsh floor rugs and Duralex glasses could have easily found their way home with me.

Owl: a contemporary art gallery run by six artists working in paint, ceramics, wire, felt, glass and printmaking. Gladys Paulus’s stunning sculpted felt animal headdresses have to be seen to be believed.

Millie Moon: haberdashery heaven – this gorgeous little shop will make you want to fill your pockets with buttons and ribbon and instantly dust off your sewing machine.

Seed: between the Frome Flea and St Catherine’s Hill, Black Swan Arts Centre is home to this lovely collection of work by British designer makers. If you’re into handmade jewellery, you’ll definitely want to stop here.

Have you been to Frome recently too? If so please do jump into the comments and let me know what I’ve forgotten or missed. I’m already looking forward to a return visit – can’t believe the transformation of this creative little town!

House Tour: inside a Victorian collector’s cottage

10 Oct

Ok, it’s the cottage that’s actually Victorian, but peep inside this antiquey Australian home and you’d be forgiven for thinking the owner hailed from a bygone era too!

Amazing huh? Although the cottage has been standing since 1836 when it was built for the local blacksmith, current owner Deb Kavaliunas has only been living there for a year. The items inside it however are the product of a lifetime of collecting, foraging and gathering. This wonderful display of apothecary jars makes my own collection look pretty pathetic!

I have to be honest with you and say these cabinets of curiosities awaken my inner dust phobic but it’s the kind of place I would love to visit and there are so many lovely antiques I would stuff under my jumper in a heartbeat. I’m already developing a penchant for battered toys (remember my wooden toy horse) so those teeny dolls’ house chairs and little boats are calling me.

{Photographs Sharyn Cairns / Styling Heather Nette King via Homelife}

So, charmingly curious or challengingly cluttered? For me, I love it to look at but couldn’t live here myself – an edited version would be just perfect for me.

And if you’re as blown away by Sharyn Cairns’ atmospheric photography as I am you should definitely check out this elegantly faded home from my house tour archive.

Explore a stripped-back vintage home

27 Feb

I usually avoid posting house tours from the mighty Design*Sponge because I assume lots of you will have already seen them. However I loved this house so much I’m making an exception. It belongs to Philadelphia duo Tara Mangini and Percy Bright who run the Jersey Ice Cream Co (an online shop selling vintage furniture, not dairy treats).

I think what grabs me about this home is that despite being bang slap in the centre of Philadelphia, it has quite a European feel. Obviously this is a sweeping generalisation, but I often feel that the American approach to interior design can feel a bit too contrived for my British tastes. I love how this couple have revealed the fabric of the building in their renovation and decorated with reclaimed and vintage furniture in a way that feels honest and authentic.

The inspiration for the elegant grey room above was a photo of a panelled Parisian apartment. The couple set about recreating the look using reclaimed mouldings from an abandoned local school. The wooden floors are also salvaged from an old gymnasium.

My love of vintage maps as wall art shows no sign of abating.

It’s not often that a house with a damp problem is a good thing, but it did lead Tara and Percy to pull lots of the plaster from their walls exposing the lovely brick in several of the rooms. I’m very envious of all the light streaming into the first bedroom – note the shabby door headboard too.

One day, I will have an office / studio like this! I like the clothes peg and string memo board too. Another nice use of pegs below…

{all Tara Mangini via Design*Sponge & Jersey Ice Cream Co}

I don’t think I’ve seen blackboard paint used in a bathroom before. I think the way they’ve chalked up a simple all-over pattern to create a quirky kind of wallpaper is a great idea and a splash of yellow on grey never goes amiss.

If you’re loving this home too, you’ll find lots of similar vintage bits and pieces in the couple’s Etsy shop.

Something old in something new

19 Jan

I’ve had a handful of vintage clock faces and broken bone dominoes in a bag, in a box, on top of my wardrobe, since I picked them up for a song in Margate two summers ago.

Last week I bought a stamped metal bowl from Dotcomgiftshop and before you can say “contrived vignette” an odd little table display was born…

{all Decorator’s Notebook}

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

Vintage shopping in Bologna

2 Jan

Just before Christmas my Mum and I bagged some £17 flights and headed to the lovely historic city of Bologna in Northern Italy for a few days. By happy coincidence our visit coincided with the twice-monthly flea market in the gorgeous square outside the church of Santo Stefano. Mum taught me pretty much everything I know about buying vintage tat, so the pair of us hot-footed it there straight after breakfast!

That’s the church in the background. I’ll take you inside later but let’s see what we can find on the stalls first shall we?

I love vintage packaging and these old razor blade packets caught my eye. Better than my plasticy Venus I thought!

Mum was tempted by this half-completed sampler, but it was a bit pricey.

You can walk 38km of Bologna’s streets under porticoes or arcades like the ones you can see in the background. Many have beautiful frescos painted inside the arches.

There were plenty of boxes of old photos, pictures, postcards and posters to rummage through. I especially liked this illustration of a circus ringleader training his prancing horses.

Lots of colourful shot glasses looking great displayed on a mirrored tray.

Baby Jesus, shepherds, kings and whatnot.

I loved the twirly font on these vintage name-tapes, all tied up with bright elastic bands.

I really want to create a display wall of pictureless frames (something like this) and could’ve got them all on this stall. Damn the Easyjet baggage allowance!

The Basilica Di Santo Stefano is actually not one church but a collection of seven churches and other religious buildings dating from different periods.

In the middle of all the buildings there’s a lovely courtyard with lots more of those porticoes around the edge.

Pretty much everything was, well, pretty. Even the bricks in the walls.

{all Decorator’s Notebook}

Oh, and here are some colour coded buttons I forgot to put in with the other flea market photos. I know you guys will appreciate this sort of thing!

Four legged friends

13 Dec

Can you think why this picture made me smile?

{via April & May}

I wonder if they’d be friends…

{Decorator’s Notebook from this post}

La Braderie: the day I died and went to vintage heaven

6 Sep

My friend and I had a fantastic weekend hunting for treasure at La Braderie in Lille – Europe’s biggest flea market! There was so much to see, so much to buy and we came away with some great goodies. Photos of what I bought will have to wait until this weekend (it’s too dark for photos when I get home from work now, sob). In the meantime here’s a selection of photographic loveliness to set the scene.

I love how the seemingly random assortment of junk creates the most intriguing combinations!


These gorgeous enamel jars were very tempting. I think I like the mottled blue and white ones best.

I was so charmed by this toy big wheel that I hadn’t noticed the advertising sign in the background until I edited my pictures!

I did manage to tear my eyes away from the brocante once or twice to admire Lille’s beautiful architecture, like this disused pharmaceutical college. We also spent quite some time spotting apartments we’d like to buy / rent. I thought that the one above this antique shop would suit me just fine.

There’s only one thing I find more pleasing than a row of Tolix chairs. And that’s a row of Tolix chairs with a heap of retro typography in front of it.

I went a bit gooey over this shapely 1930s blush pink tea set. Impossible to carry back safely on the Eurostar unfortunately. I hope another nice vintage lover got to take it home for their table.

Lots of the stalls belong to locals who set up a table of household cast-offs outside their garage, some are entrepreneurial kids looking to make a few euros selling home-baked cakes and old toys, others are dealers selling a specialist selection of items. But what brings someone to become a specialist in rickety prams or freaky bits of dolls I can’t imagine!

{all Decorator’s Notebook}

If you could have picked one thing in these photos, what would you have chosen?

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