By Clementene Coates, Nov 23 2014 12:47PM
It feels like this has been a long time coming. At last my dream of owning my very own business up-cycling antique and vintage furniture has become a reality. I’m absolutely thrilled! Over a year in the planning and I’m ready to show you my hand painted furniture. I thought I’d feel nervous, and whilst I do have a few butterflies in my tummy, I’m mostly very excited! How could I not be? I’m doing what I love and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I may be a little bit biased, but I think my furniture’s beautiful - I hope you do too!
A New Beginning
Just over a year ago I was working as a solicitor in a successful law firm. I won’t bore you with the specific ins and outs of why I chose to leave (I‘m saving that story for another blog entitled ‘There’s More to Law!’). In a nutshell, after seven years of practising law I realised that I needed a change of scene. With the support of my family and friends, but particularly my wonderful and lovely fiancé Pete, I made a decision to leave that world behind me to do something that I really want to do - something that makes me jump out of bed in the morning with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
It's In The Blood!
Both my Mum and Dad are very artistic and they’ve always encouraged my sister, brother and me to use our imaginations. I suppose you could say that their creative genes rubbed off on all of us: my sister Becs is a clothes designer and my brother John is a writer. As for me, from a very young age I whiled away many hours drawing, painting and crafting random things out of bits and pieces I found lying around at home. Twenty years or so later and I’m still at it!
I’ve been up-cycling one way or another for as long as I can remember, although it did start on a much smaller scale. I’ve very fond memories of ‘blowing out’ eggs to dress them up with cuts of fabric and brightly coloured feathers for Easter decorations. I was about five years old at the time and I grabbed hold of a huge pair of Mum’s fabric scissors, and in my haste I managed to cut a chunk of skin from the palm of my hand. Suffice to say there was quite a lot of blood, but once Mum had got over the shock and the bleeding had stopped she simply stuck the flap of skin back on with a plaster (health and safety in the mid eighties wasn’t quite what it is today!) and all was well again. According to Mum, I wasn’t fazed by the episode at all as I was more concerned about cracking (pardon the pun!) on with decorating my eggs. I still bear the scar of my early and eager efforts to this day!
A Bit About Me
I was born and grew up in the idyllic county of Yorkshire, which we folk fondly refer to as “God’s Own Country”. Excluding the five years I spent in Newcastle at university, I’ve always lived in Yorkshire. I currently live in a lovely home by the beautiful countryside with Pete and our two gorgeous greyhounds, Oscar and Aoife (our dogs are thinking of doing their own blog if they can squeeze it into their busy sleeping schedules!).
For as long as I can recall I’ve loved interior design. I’ve been utterly spoilt growing up by the picturesque countryside, which has influenced my love of all things rural. I love nothing more than quaint English cottages with their pretty cottage gardens and big, old rustic farmhouses with exposed beams, well-worn furniture, stone flooring and a large toasty-warm range. Family holidays spent in France opened my eyes to not only their delicious cuisine, but also to their unmistakeable, shabby chic and elaborate Rococo styling, which we’ve grown to love in the U.K. Trips to cool Scandinavia with Dad’s work exposed me not only to the wonderful people, but also their unmistakeable, minimalist sense of design with its elegant, clean lines and neutral colour tones.
Before doing a degree in law I studied Classics for three years at university. I learnt about Greek and Roman art and architecture and how it played an essential role in the history of Western Art, establishing numerous techniques and styles which have had a lasting influence. It really opened my eyes to the world of art and I’m fascinated how those early styles are still being replicated today.
Why I Love To Do What I Do
When Pete and I bought our first home together (a beautiful, mid-terrace Victorian house) we needed to fill it with new furniture. We didn’t want to spend a fortune, but we still wanted to achieve a stunning, new look. Influenced by the original Victorian features in our home, we set about hunting out pieces of furniture to fill it with.
We avoided all of the mass-manufactured furniture, which has no individuality, character or charm and is often very poorly constructed and expensive. Instead we hit the auction rooms. We were also lucky to inherit some pieces of furniture too. One particular piece was an old, vintage chest of drawers that my parents gave to us. Whilst it was very old and worn, it had beautiful curves and lines with ornate handles on each drawer. I couldn’t wait to whip out my brushes and get painting it. In fact, I remember starting the painting process in our garage in the early hours of a Saturday morning! I painted it with a combination of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Paris Grey and Old White. I painted the handles too. Once the paint had dried I ‘distressed’ it with sandpaper as it suited the already weathered look of the piece. I followed this with a dark wax glaze to create an aged patina and then finished it off with clear soft wax for extra protection.
I feel a great sense of satisfaction if I can prevent good quality furniture ending up on the scrap heap. Not only am I doing my little bit for the environment, but I’m giving the furniture a new lease of life and creating something entirely unique too. So, here I am with my paint brushes at the ready. A new start in life for me as well as the furniture! I think I’ve gone on long enough and I’ve a beautiful nest of tables waiting to be cleaned down and dusted off. My creative juices are flowing already. Hmm, what colour should I paint them???