It was the wonderful William Morris who once said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” (1880's)
These words are words to live by, however there is always that drawer in the kitchen, you know, the one that hides the odds- the matches, the bottle opener, keys that you no longer know which door/padlock/ bike chain/ suitcase they belong to. The take away menus, birthday cake candles, an assortment of pens/ a box of toothpicks/ various tea lights/rose flower food pouches( kept from when you doubled up on two bunches) I could continue..... This drawer would hardly qualify as beautiful yet I know, or at least I believe it, to be useful but there is always that nagging doubt.
I have friends who keep the local charity shops afloat because they live by this rule; if I haven't used it in the past six months I don't need it. I suspect it is this new year that has inspired many early spring cleans. Nicholas & Steele has had a month of folk popping by with many lovely items that they had for sale, mostly from the homes of aging relatives or because they simply did not need them . This has led to some interesting finds.
|A beautiful Royal Vale pink Tea set|
|Antique German pin cushion dolls|
|a collection of vintage Staffordshire egg cups|
|Victorian Photo Mounts|
|Vintage knitting needles that look like sweeties to me.|
|and a beautiful wedgwood plate.|
We have also spent our days off, scouting around in antique warehouses and vintage shops in Surrey and Kent and found some other lovelies.
|A reproduction Americas cup yacht|
|a Victorian picture frame/mantle shelf|
|a vintage letter "S" and oval mirror|
|A lovely Lloyd Loom chair in original shabby chic condition|
|Lloyd Loom linen hampers|
|A gorgeous pigeon hole box with vintage fabric|
|more vintage trimmed tea towels|
|A lovely little bedroom chair|
|A stunning antique Venetian Mirror|
|a pop up 1950's ballet book|
|Soccer and Rugby prints in painted frames|
|A Tri-ang pushalong with building blocks|
|Remember this? I had one and I am sure anybody born in the 70's would recognise this Fisher-Price activity center.|
|A pair of vintage knitted Noddy and big Ears.|
|an Edwardian boudoir chair|
|A beautiful Sadler tea pot|
|and another lovely Staffordshire, Meissen copy of kittens in a basket.|
We have finally managed to source the tea set for our fabulous A list fashion designer customer. It has taken a few months and much research, but at last the Holy Grail of all tea sets has arrived. Sadly, I could have sold it 10 times over as everyone wants one so I think this is a china search that will continue long into the future.
January has been a month full of potential. We have battled through a quiet session but come out of it still fighting. I don't really want to use this blog as a soap box for political rhetoric however, it is with increasing unease that I am sensing buying confidence slide away.
This month we were invited to take a stall at Zac's Bazaar, an evening in Kingston hosted by Zac Goldsmith the MP for the Richmond Park Ward. N&S were undecided as to whether we felt we wanted to be seen to be affiliated with the Conservative Party as we are not supporters, however; the evening was about a new initiative Zac was launching which was to support local independent shops. Against our better judgment, we dragged an impressive selection of goods and furniture up there one Thursday evening after a full day at the shop and did our best to fit in to what could only be described as bizare bazaar. Skinny models slinked their way through a crowded hall of the well healed, the well connected and the well.....single. (Zac is a single man of certain stature with a Disney-esque jaw line to match). To say that the evening was a disappointment would be stating it mildly. After Zac gave a rousing speech of how all the businesses present needed the support of his followers and how he was dedicated to this cause, we half expected a few sales but sadly, it was not to be. We managed to claw back the fee for our table and the ad we placed in the evening programe and we were fortunate. One of neighbours took just £8 all evening. It is sad but true, Zac's party can't undermine the very fabric of our economy with hard faced cuts and stealth taxes without a back lash. Small businesses like us, with our finger on the pulse of retail have felt the near cardiac arrest that these changes have and are bringing. No amount of bazaars will heal us if the cancer is at the core of policy. We have a tiny, baby business that needs nurturing and support and confident buyers if we are to be here this time next year. (and now I will climb down from my soap box) thanks for listening.
On a happier note, this week I began preparations for our Valentines window display, which will include vintage paper heart garlands and pink pom poms..watch this space.
In this day and age were function seems to supersede beauty I remind myself that my call is to recreate. I want to make a stand for beauty. When God looked on creation he believed it to be good. He didn't say "that was efficient, within budget, and should reap financial yields in years to come."
Although my kitchen drawer is as far from the perfection of creation it can be, it reflects the chaos of managing beauty. The pursuit of beauty is a quest, yet once fulfilled, it's work only begins for it collects dust, can cost dearly and sometimes it gets in the way, but without it we are hollow vessels devoid of character and soul, stripped of our heritage and impoverished by its loss.
Love life, love beauty, love the kitchen drawer....