New Grand Illusions Vintage Paint.

Well it’s been a while but after much ado going on behind the scenes we’re back blogging, with many posts lined up, so keep your eye out. If you can’t keep an eye out, watch this space…..IMG_1117_edited-2Grand Illusions Vintage Paint.

For those local to us, you will be familiar with the Grand Illusions shop that was in St Margarets for nearly 20 years, a few miles down the road from us. For those who don’t know, Grand Illusions Founders, Nick and David were early pioneers of the French Painted Furniture style we are all so familiar with now. They introduced their own paint range back in the mid 90s, to compliment their increasing range of French Style Furniture. They also ran very successful furniture painting courses from their little shop in SW London. Excitingly for us – and hopefully you – they have now relaunched their paint…IMG_1110Grand Illusions ‘VINTAGE PAINT’ is a unique, flat and chalky matt paint, and is designed to recreate the buttermilk paints of the 18th and 19th Century. Nick and David originally worked with an antique restorer to get the right blend and finish. Inspired by an authentic Nordic-French colour palette, these wonderful paint colours are ideal for painting furniture (or mirrors, picture frames, or walls) And we should know – we have tried a lot of different brands over the years! To give you more of an idea of the finish and differences in the colours, we have painted all the colours on to picture frames in the furniture shop, so you can get an exact idea of the finish….. and mix and match if you need to.IMG_1091Having been restoring, refinishing and repainting certain vintage furniture pieces as a business since 1999, it somehow seemed fitting that Grand Illusions have asked us to be the stockists for this part of SW London (their “old hunting ground”) Somewhat serendipitously as it turns out. They approached us, just as we were about to start stocking paint (by another brand) and the various consumables that go with it – i.e. brushes, wire wool, waxes etc. We will now be using Vintage Paint for all our painting projects in the shop from now on. We will be posting pictures of the finished results as and when we have finished them.IMG_1108

Christmas at attic.

We thought you might like to see our new Christmas window display. We’re really rather pleased with it…..IMG_1908Some of the regular visits to our site (and this blog!) and various social media, may have noticed that we haven’t been very active in this last few months, Here’s a quick update on our year…IMG_1740We’ve actually been incredibly busy behind the scenes, setting ourselves up for the future with a new integrated till/ epos system and a better functioning website, that will be updated regularly!! There will also be some new things happening with the website over the next few months so we’ll keep you updated….IMG_1770 It’s actually been a year of ups and downs. The loss of a close family member to cancer in the first half of the year was difficult to say the least. That tends to put things into perspective. IMG_1771We’ve also had challenges with our website, stemming from unforeseen incompatibility issues, that have caused a lot of work – but we’ve also been shown the most incredible generosity of spirit (and time!) by certain people. One step back – two steps forward and all that…. Encouragingly though, our business in general, has had some incredible recognition from across the globe – so we must be doing something right!IMG_7009Anyway, we’re getting back on track and we’ve been busy getting the shops ready for Christmas. They are now jam packed with seasonal stock, gifts, decorations and inspiration. We’re taking new product shots as we speak, so new stock will also be added to the website this week.IMG_1750

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IMG_1763attic by night……IMG_1917And by the way, in case you are wondering – the mystical figures in the window are called Santos dolls. We bought them in New York last year. They are replicas of figurines found in churches and holy places in South America (and parts of Europe) in the 17th and 18th century. Not for sale i’m afraid, display only – sorry!

Beside the Seaside

Typography & Signage in Hastings and Rye

At the end of last year, we took a little trip to the seaside, for a final little break before the Christmas season started in earnest……The thing that became apparent on our return, was the large amount of photos we’d taken of old handwritten/handmade signs and signage: Shop signs, house names, road names, fishing boat numbers and fish and chip shop signs…..seaside

RYE, East Sussex. 

We actually spent a weekend in the seaside towns of Hastings and the fishing port of Rye a few miles along the southern English coast. We’ve been to Rye a few times over the years, and it never fails to charm us, with its picturesque old town and cobbled lanes of cottages and houses…mermaid street 2

There’s an abundance of antique shops and emporiums, small boutiques – and a good choice of restaurants and coffee shops (and traditional tea shops- it is a very English town after all) There’s also a fantastic old Vinyl record store; Grammar School Records – situated in an old Grammar school (funnily enough) It’s always worth a visit, if you like a long player!

We found there are a lot of quirky houses in Rye if you keep your eyes open…2 front doorsPatriotic too…..fish and shipsprinters

Lovely little boutique – Violetta – closed unfortunately!violetta

A very neat and tidy looking homewares and ironmongers….Crockery

Philosophical messages atop the buildings! You just have to look up……DSCN1895

HASTINGS, East Sussex

Hastings is a contrasting town of two halves. Having never been before, we were surprised at the difference between the Old town and the ‘New’ town. The lovely Old town to the west of the town, has a wonderful mix of independent shops, pubs and restaurants, including many vintage/antique and lifestyle shops. We particularly liked the fantastic Myerscough & Mairs antiques and vintage shop, on the old high street. Lovely guy and great pieces. The ‘New’ town to the east, appears to consist of a mix of once beautiful old Victorian buildings, that have seemingly been long neglected (the magnificent old Palace Court Hotel on the seafront in particular) and a sprawling, shabby looking, commercial shopping centre. And dodgy looking guest houses…B&B

….we liked the front door of this B&B – but didn’t fancy staying there! And the ‘Antiques sign was clearly more interesting than the shop – it had closed down.antiques

Always handy to have a shop that serves soup, while choosing your wedding cakes – don’t you think?……DSCN1607

light steps

Alastair Hendy’s Homestore on the High Street is enough on it’s own, to warrant a visit to Hastings. We had a delicious, freshly caught sea food lunch here too….home store

The Haunted Waterloo Passage – off the old high street…waerloo

Who wouldn’t want to live at No.1 Pleasant row?pleasant rowHand painted signwriting….right Like the idea of a rock shop…rock shop

There are many more photo opportunities to be had down on the seafront. Hastings is still home to Europe’s largest beach based fishing fleet and you will find many old and abandoned fishing boats, amongst the working boats and fishmongers, selling their freshly caught produce….fresh fish Look out for the seagulls though…..fishing boat

By the way, we stayed at the George Hotel in Rye, on the high street. Fantastic, stylishly designed hotel, with great rooms and a cosy bar (with roaring log fire) and a great restaurant! Worth a stay….DSCN1863

Paris in the Snow

paris title

January always lulls us into a false sense of security. We always think that it will be a month of catching up and getting back on track, after the madness of the Christmas season! For us, most of January is taken up with buying trips, as this is the time of year when most of the trade shows are on. So, as well as shows in London, there are trips to Paris, New York……and Birmingham. Guess which one we look forward to least! Anyway, at the end of January we had the first of our bi-annual trips to Paris…from the plane

To be honest we were lucky to get there, as there had been heavy snow fall in Paris – and heavy snow was forecast for when we flew. Luckily we flew from Heathrow just before the snow hit London, and we landed in Paris just after the snow had fallen (heavily).

The view from our hotel (Concorde La Fayette)…from the hotelWell, due to the weather, our usual day for trawling round flea markets was derailed slightly, so we headed to the Musee d’Orsay for a day of culture and sophistication!chairs

Serendipity has always been a favourite word of ours, and this day was, well, serendipitous.                                                                                                                  Jardin Des Tuileries, towards the Ferris Wheel….ferris wheel

The walk from the ‘Tuileries’ metro station – from the Rue de Rivoli, across the Jardin Des Tuileries, over the river to the Musee d’Orsay, was breathtaking to say the least. Due to the heavy snow fall that had covered Paris that night, the whole area including all of the buildings of the Louvre was just so beautiful.

Looking towards The Louvre……winter scene2winter scene 1

Looking towards the Musee d’Orsay, across the Seine….winter scene4

They say that Paris is the City of light – well the light that day was truly something. It gave the whole city a magical and ethereal feel. A dream for photographers, amateur or professional!snowmenjoggerstatues

One of the two famous clocks on the facade of the Musee d’Orsay…..paris orleans

And this is the view from the inside. After waiting ages for the area in front of the clock to clear of people, when i finally got a picture of it without anybody in front of it, i realised you get a much better sense of proportion when there are people in view…..clockj

Looking from the inside of the museum back over the river to the north side…..d orcy

Thanks Paris, for the snow and some wonderful photo opportunities.merci

Quintessance, Paris.

While on our last buying trip to Paris in September, we stumbled upon the most intriguing and inspiring of places….. With no name on the outside, no business cards, no obvious signs of staff working there, we left somewhat mystified about where and what exactly we had just visited. All we knew was that it was quite breathtaking. And very, very inspiring….Only after returning home and looking up the address did we discover that it is called QUINTESSENCE…..Essentially it is a 650 square meters concept store created by Ludovic Messager, Interior designer and Antiques dealer. From what we can gather, this gallery style environment is used mainly as a showcase for the eclectic display, visual merchanding and interiors style of it’s creator.Some of the worlds most innovative and respected retailers and designers have come to this ‘house of curiosities’ to commission interiors projects. ABC New York, Anthropologie, Ralph Lauren, John Varvatos to name a few.You have to be careful in Paris when taking pictures in shops or boutiques. A lot of the owners/proprietors don’t like it at all. But they were kind enough to let us take pictures, in fact we got the nod from the man himself, Monsieur Messager. This is just a selection….

Trick or Treat?

Spooky goings on down down at our shops in Hampton Hill…….We thought it was about time we made an effort and got in the ‘Spirit’ of all things Halloween and so decorated the windows in an appropriately scary manner.We made good use of display domes, skull soaps and script wrapping paper. Not to mention old chemist’s labels, steel bank boxes and apothecary bottles. Oh and a large can of frighteningly good Spider’s web spray!

Vintage Industrial.

Here’s a few things we’ve been working on recently in the attic workshop – and now for sale in the shop……here.We’ve been sourcing, restoring and refinishing utilitarian, vintage furniture since we started in 1999. We do it all in-house from start to finish – hand-stripping, hand-finishing and occasionally repainting.

1950’s Steel Double pedestal desk with new glass…..

Sometimes, all a piece needs is a bit of TLC, or just a clean and polish!

!930’s oak roll top desk….

There’s an immense feeling of satisfaction, when we change something that is ready for the scrap yard (in some people’s eyes) having spent many hours working on it, and turning it into something, that generally results in comments in the shop, such as “Where do you get all this stuff”. Well, that would be telling wouldn’t it…..

!940’s steel filing cabinets with brass fittings….

1950s Plan Chest coffee table….

Collection of early 1900s deed boxes….

!930s Oak tambour front cabinet & Anglepoise lamp….

Reclaimed timber pigeon holes…..

All these pieces are on our website. Check them out here….www.discoverattic.com

Bowerbird by Sibella Court

We’ve been fans of Sibella Court for a few years now, and have stocked, sold and read, all of her books since ‘ETCETERA’  was published a few years ago. They are always inspiring. Bowerbird is her latest and is quite wonderful…A Bowerbird is a bird native to Australia & New Guinea. The beautiful male birds, build the most extraordinary nests to attract their mates. They then spend hours collecting & placing a variety of brightly coloured objects they have found at the entrance to the nest. These objects, may include hundreds of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, berries, and even discarded plastic items, coins, nails, rifle shells, or pieces of glass. Collectors and decorators of the bird world! And the inspiration for this book….Here’s some sample pages…..

Put it on your wish list and be inspired. Happy Reading!

Cotswolds (in a day) Pt.2

On the way back from our trip to Cowley Manor, a few weeks ago, we had a quick whistle-stop tour through the Cotswolds. We had never really been to this part of England before, so we thought seeing as we were down there anyway, it would be rude not to explore, at least a little!First stop on the way to Oxford, (where we were staying for that night) was Stow on the Wold, a pretty market town that centres around the market square at the top of the hill. As i’m sure most of the thousands of tourists that visit Stow every year would agree, there are plenty of photo opportunities…

After a couple of hours in Stow, we headed off to Burford, another popular destination in the Cotswolds. Again, a beautiful town with the typical Cotswold stone built buildings and quaint English charm….

Although the whole town is lovely, particularly worth a stroll down is ‘Sheep Street’ off the main high street. This is where we took the majority of the photos. A street with as many beautiful cottages and houses would be hard to find…

In 2009, Burford was ranked sixth in Forbes Magazine‘s list of “Europe’s Most Idyllic Places To Live”. Not hard to see why….

Merci.

If you’re looking for inspiration in Paris, then Merci, on Boulevard Beaumarchais on the edge of the Marais, is always worth a visit…The brainchild of Marie-France Cohen & her husband (founders of children’s brand Bonpoint) Merci is a concept store, that since opening in 2009, has in a few short years, gained quite a reputation amongst interiors & lifestyle journalists and bloggers. And with good reason!Set in an old factory, set back from the main road (sorry Boulevard!) Merci has 15,000 sq ft of the very best in contemporary furniture, lighting & accessories, mixed with exquisite vintage & antique pieces…There is also a whole floor of exclusive designer clothing and accessories, with many pieces designed exclusively for Merci, by Stella McCartney, Paul Smith and Isabel Marant – to name a few. There is also a library/café where you can slow down and maybe browse or buy the books while you sip your green tea! It’s also worth mentioning that Merci donates all it’s profits to Women’s foundations in Madagascar. But the thing that stands Merci apart, is the innovative visual merchandising and displays that are implemented throughout the store… That and the little vintage Red Fiat 500 Cinquecento that stands in the courtyard ready to greet you as you enter….Merci, indeed.