My friend Steph, who has always been passionate about interiors and effortlessly radiates the sort of casual good taste most people spend years trying to acquire, recently took the plunge and launched her own online shop, selling rare and wonderful pieces from all over the world.
I take my hat off to her. In a big way. It is not easy to ditch the rat race and run around the world sourcing trays, chests and whatever else hungry homeowners are demanding, when competition is so high.
The shop, called House & Table, does exactly what it says on the tin but with a difference: every piece, in one way or another, perfectly reflects Steph’s impeccable taste: rustic yet elegant, and totally eclectic.
I caught up with her to find out how the business came about, where she finds her inspiration, and what has been the greatest hurdle so far.
What made you take the leap and decide to set up House & Table?
I created House & Table because friends kept asking me to source special things for them – it seemed that they liked and trusted my taste. Then, when I bought my own worker’s cottage, it was impossible to find a range of items from all over the world in one place. And finally, I realised that a lot of people just don’t have the time, or don’t like, to search high and low for those special things. And it just sort of came together from there.
Where do you source most of your products?
Now that would be telling! To be honest, I source them everywhere and anywhere. Large antique markets, small markets, flea markets, shops, charity shops, cheap antique shops… They are everywhere, you just have to have the patience and time to hunt them out. Buying is my favourite part of the job; I could never get bored of shopping for things. My stuff has come from all over. Morocco, Vietnam, Hungary, France…
What’s your style?
I would say rustic chic (which I think I have more or less made up by putting the two words together but that is how I see my personal style). Just like House & Table. (… And like nestify, we like to think). Chic enough that the house looks beautiful, but rustic enough so that it still looks like a home. Having grown up in Hong Kong, I most definitely channel an element of Asian style as well. In my house I have a beautiful oil painting of a Vietnamese street in bright colours right next to a large linen French style sofa. East meets West: I love the mishmash of the two together.
What was the greatest challenge involved in getting the shop up and running?
It may sound weird and ostensibly simple, but it would have to be the delivery process and sorting out who would deliver what for how much. (I use a different company for smaller boxed items and a different company for the furniture). It has taken weeks, actually months, to sort that out and to find the best price.
And finally, which designers do you most admire?
There are tons but I think the architect Boris Vervoordt has amazing interior taste. Tine Kjeldsen is a big inspiration, too.
Saidos de Concha on Flickr
When I moved into my flat in the summer, I couldn’t have cared less about the hallway. The word and the space seem to belong to big rambling houses, not little urban hideouts. Say ikat cushion or hand thrown mug or anything Bang & Olufsen and my ears will prick up, but say hallway and I will find it hard to care.
This could be to do with the fact that mine is a damp, cold, foot of a staircase which leads to much more colourful and exciting things, but I think it is also indicative of the fact that in general not many excited new home makers care about this odd and transient space. But when it comes to urban living, a hallway where you can fit anything larger than a set of keys and a coat or two is gold dust. And it should be maximised.
So – partly in an effort to find out what to do with mine, and partly because when I think of my friends’ houses I realise I am not alone in the hallway wilderness (the worst are mostly male-tended but that’s no excuse) – I scouted out some of my favourites. The first, above, packed with robins and colourful gourds, is perfect while autumn hangs on in there.
Saidos de Concha on Flickr