Issue #1: Origins

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since we started Louisa Grace Interiors from a 10×8 garden shed at home in Wallington.

Time really does fly when you’re running your own company and, I guess, constantly looking forward and thinking about where we can take things next. That said, I sometimes do take a moment to look back and reflect on where we’ve come from and what a journey it’s been, and I’m often as amazed as I am proud of what two complete newbies managed to achieve.

Like so many who start a small business from home, we were nervous, uncertain, excited and optimistic in equal measure. Neither of us were coming from a background of interior design or furniture renovation, but we both had a passion for antiques and restoring vintage furniture. So when Jamie made a blackboard for our girls from a vintage picture frame, and one of their friends’ parents asked him to make one for their kitchen, we knew we’d found that spark of something that inspired us to push on and do more. This, just at a point when we were both realising our daily occupations were not bringing the fulfilment they should.

That simple blackboard was the start of everything, though. One casual customer led to another, and another, and then a tentative foray into selling on eBay, and before we knew it our little side-hustle was becoming a full-time business. The fire was well and truly lit! So with Jamie’s renovation skills, my passion for interior design and our joint love of a unique ‘modern rustic’ style, Louisa Grace Interiors was born.

We very quickly outgrew the shed so moved to my parents’ double garage, but after a few months my mum wanted her garage back so we hunted high and low for new premises and finally found some barns just outside Banstead which we could see would be perfect with a bit of TLC! Set in the rolling hills of the Surrey Countryside, an incredibly picturesque area, we’re lucky enough to still be only 12 miles outside of Central London which makes it easy to get in and out of the city, and for customers and couriers to access us.

A ‘House Style’ Emerges

We moved on from blackboards and started visiting the markets (Wimbledon market, sadly no longer going, was a favourite) buying stuff to upcycle because we’re strong believers in sustainable furniture and decorating methods. At the time it felt like a bit of a stretch, buying stuff that people had written off and turning it into something other people might want to furnish or decorate their houses with. But we soon realised that actually there was quite a market for upcycled vintage furniture in Surrey.

It took a year or so of trying different things before we found our ‘groove’ and started developing a reputation for the pieces Jamie would source, and the upcycling methods he uses. Turning a welders bench into a dining table and a jewellers counter into a chest of drawers, quickly became the sort of thing people knew us for. So we built on that and started looking at our furniture pieces as the centre point around which we would style a whole room. We expanded our range to include decorative lighting, vintage wall art and mirrors.

Nowadays you could describe our style as rustic, original and vintage with a splash of modern luxe thrown in!

As we specialise in original items and restored pieces everything we sell has its own history and story to tell, which we think is rather special. Jamie and I truly believe vintage and antique furniture and accessories can look beautiful in any home no matter the style or size.

We’re always on the lookout for unique and interesting pieces, and often visit the local antique markets (Sunbury Antiques Fair at Kempton Park and IACF at Ardingly, etc) It’s a little bit like a treasure hunt when we go off to antique markets and fairs or see what our trusted sources have discovered for us and we often don’t know what treasures we will uncover. We also have a range of suppliers in France and Belgium so Jamie will head over there on a regular basis, where he usually manages to root out some real gems.

Our Favourite Things

There’s always something new, different, unique and exciting coming through the workshop, and our stock changes quite regularly. That’s what I love the most about what we do, every day brings something new. We do of course always have a huge selection of classic pieces such as armoires, mirrors, chests of drawers, lighting etc but we also have old vintage signs, film posters, shutters, leather tub chairs…the list is endless.

Jamie says he likes the urns best as he handpicks every single one of them. They are Turkish olive jars, over 100 years old, super-heavy and each with its own distinct signs of a life lived. Mine is probably the mirrors and our trademark chandeliers. Anything that sparkles, that’s me!

The Home of Rustic Vintage Furniture in Surrey

Our customers come from all walks of life. Some are just people who find an item they love on our website and others are long term customers who we help on a regular basis to furnish their homes. But if they have one thing in common, I’d say it’s that they only buy what they fall in love with. It’s actually good advice for anyone looking to dress a room with unique vintage furniture. This stuff has already been around for a long time and if looked after, it’ll last long into the future. Many of the pieces we sell are a lot older than we are, so we like to think of ourselves as their current custodians, getting them back into shape and preparing them for the next chapter in their story.

We work closely with various interior designers and source specific items for their clients, and our own. We have also helped restaurants, cafés and small interior businesses, supplying them with items required for their premises.

And then of course there’s client number one, our very own #chipsteadlocationhouse home in Surrey, the Instagram star of shoots for You Magazine, WH Smith and Channel 4’s Old House New Home. It needed a fair bit of work when we found it a few years ago now, but we knew it would make the ideal showcase for my styling work and Jamie’s creative restorations. And of course it really has become the living portfolio for all our work. One day we might be having our breakfast on an antique farmhouse kitchen table, lit by some restored industrial factory lighting, only to find that by dinner time we’re sitting down at an old butcher’s table under a vintage French chandelier. It keeps life interesting, that’s for sure.

So what is the future of the best place to find Unique Vintage Furniture in Surrey?

Well it’s still a bit of a secret but we are hoping to move premises later in the year which would mean some exciting new product ranges plus potentially more outdoor / garden pieces. We are keen to expand our range of unique, rustic and modern vintage furnishings. 2023 is shaping up to be an interesting time not just for Louisa Grace Interiors, but for the Chipstead Location House and our Interior styling service. Biophilia is a word that keeps creeping into a lot of my style planning at the moment, so watch this space…

Cheers

Claire

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