Pictured: Sharland and Lewis - Tetbury.
1. Baileys, Bridstow
Ok, this isn’t really in the SW per se, but if you live or are travelling within a 50-miles radius it’s well worth a visit or detour. It’s a family-run lifestyle shop within the grounds of an old farm, encompassing a series of buildings including a large warehouse-like barn, cart shed, cow shed and old stables. The ethos behind Baileys is beautiful, simple things that are well made and useful. If you love a raw, understated, utilitarian look, you could kit out an entire house here, as there’s little you can’t find for the home and garden. All areas are covered, from lovely 1930s freestanding baths, chunky butler’s sinks and industrial lighting to deep squashy sofas, pocket-sprung beds, galvanised chairs and old fashioned kitchenware. It’s hard not to be charmed by the imaginative style and it's great for inspiring ideas too. Flowerpots are presented as loo brush holders, vintage wine crates on wheels are offered for storage and you could find yourself hankering after such delights as vintage wooden bobbins, cast iron hooks, artfully coiled string, enamel billy cans, pure bristle paint brushes, miniature chalk boards, plain wooden toys devoid of garish colour and yesteryear’s quarter-pint milk bottles. There’s a café to refuel or take time out if you get overwhelmed but in short it’s anti-flash, anti-bling and frankly worthy of that detour.
Whitecross Farm, Bridstow, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire; 01989 561931
2. Sharland & Lewis, Tetbury
Tetbury is really the antiques mecca for anyone on the hunt for quirky, covetable bits and pieces for the home. There are so many good shops – Ark Angel (for mirrors and old glasses), Amy Perry (for scented candles and hand-dyed linen), Lorfords (for chandeliers and garden troughs), Muir (for retro chairs and unusual chrome lights) and Top Banana (for period collectibles), it’s hard to pick just one place as there’s no end to the trawling. But if you’re short on time, head to Sharland & Lewis. Based in a large four-storey building (formerly known as Brown and White), the overall look of what’s on offer is rustic, pared-down country chic. Sharland & Lewis takes up the ground floor selling antique armchairs, lampshades and cushions covered in simple French-style striped fabrics. You can find pretty vintage floral eiderdowns, old school maps, reclaimed teak seats, bar stools, decorative tin panels, flags, giant letters, painted chests of drawers, headboards and dovecotes. The space is shared with four other dealers offering interesting things in a similar vein so it’s a great place to go for a rummage as you clamber the stairs leading to a series of nicely arranged labyrinthine rooms. Prices range £2-£2000 so really it would be hard to leave empty-handed or without the boot of your car well stocked. Café 54 at the back provides delicious homemade soups and sandwiches at mismatched tables and chairs with seating overflowing into a pretty walled garden. Tetbury is home to the original Sharland & Lewis shop but you’ll also find stores in Nailsworth and Wimborne.
53 Long Street, Tetbury, Gloucestershire; 01666 503667
3. Acorn Antique Interiors, Wadebridge
This friendly family-run business specialises in farmhouse furniture dating from the 1700s right through to the1950s which is sourced by the owners all over Europe - in Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Germany as well as Britain. The mother, father and son team focus on finding unique, good quality pieces that may not be in ideal condition when found but are taken back to their workshop in Wadebridge to be doctored and restored back to renewed glory. Hinges and knobs are fixed, interiors spruced up and exterior doors, legs and panels painted in subdued shades, waxed, varnished or stained. It’s a great place to go for all those large, yet simple, hard to find room essentials such as armoires, chests of drawers, bedside tables and kitchen tables. You might find an unusual kitchen glass cabinet with sliding drawers, an armoire with the original folk art still presiding on the doors and the key still in the lock, a well worn workbench, a blanket box, painted French mirrors with intricate frames, a kitchen dresser, sideboards and a chunky three-door wardrobe to house a burgeoning collection of clothes. Nothing costs more than £1000 so the furniture is excellent value and they will organise delivery if necessary and transport free of charge if you live in the area.
Eddystone Road, Wadebridge, Cornwall; 01208 812815
4. Old Albion, Bridport
If you find yourself anywhere near Bridport, make an appointment to go to this secret emporium as it’s not really open to the public. Housed in a large historical rope-making warehouse, Old Albion supply props for big events including TV and film and also merchandise for shops. One of the main attractions is an original 1970s fairground Americana waltzer and an eye-catching Victorian hoop-la stall that can be bought or hired. The mainly British stock is “industrial, rustic with a hint of lux” as described by owner Sharon Bradley who spends her spare time scouring the country for original pieces with the emphasis on provenance, practicality and beauty. No reproductions here. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, Sharon and her partner Mike Stokeld will do their best to track it down for you – and in great volume if necessary. You might want 100 pretty glass cake stands for a wedding feast, for example, or a large supply of pots and planters for a party. There’s a veritable cornucopia of things for the vintage-lover: wooden and mesh pigeon hole storage, oversized candy jars, bottles with their original markings, aluminium jelly moulds, baskets and giant sieves housing tin bowls. Metal trolleys display old crockery, zinc-topped tables are laden with shells and metal lockers stand alongside ancient toys such as a set of wooden skittles, a rocking horse and a Union Jack star light which can be made to order in any shape or size. It’s a snooper’s paradise.
54D St Michael’s, Bridport, Dorset; by appointment only 07879 051362
5. Felix Lighting Specialists, Bath
Lighting is often one of the most overlooked areas of an interiors project, yet it’s possibly the most vital. Lighting can make all the difference to a room and help create the right mood, giving a heightened sensory experience by adding subtlety or impact where necessary. Felix Lighting is a well laid out shop specialising in unusual heavy-duty industrial lighting as well as vintage and architectural lighting. Owner Gary May focuses on pre-Seventies products as he believes manufacturing quality standards declined after the Sixties. Among the extensive selection of wall, floor and pendant lights are some seriously iconic statement pieces. Check out the 1930s Paris street lights, 1950s search lights from the Suez Canal, 1960s movie lights from Universal Studios,1950s lights from Russian submarines, signal lights from cargo and war ships and converted PA Horns from 1910. Bold illuminated signs are also on sale - medical lights such as “Danger X-Ray”, “On Air” signs from a New York radio station, 6ft illuminated neon “BRONX” lettering and quirky shop sign lighting. While living in New York, Gary bought a series of original “Don’t Walk…Walk” illuminated street signs from the NY Department of Transportation. The signs had been decommissioned after some pedestrians, who couldn’t read English and were confused by the road instructions, were involved in accidents and tired to sue the authorities. The company designs its own range of stone and bone china pendant lights in the workshop and offer a design service catering for private and commercial clients. Next time you’re savouring your antipasti in Jamie’s Italian, check out the lighting because it could be thanks to Gary that you can see your food.
6 Bartlett St, Lower Lansdown, Bath; 01225 315110
6. The Marmalade House, Bath
For a while, Vanessa Sayce’s business was small scale and manageable. She was painting furniture for clients at her farmhouse outside Bath but soon realised a proper premises was required with a bigger space. Encouraged by the paint maker Annie Sloan who Vanessa trained with, she opened The Marmalade House. Now she has a shop and a studio. Since Christmas she has been “going at 160 miles per hour”, selling Annie’s Chalk Paints while working on her own range of Gustavian and French-looking furniture, frames and mirrors and continuing her furniture painting for commissions. She also runs paint courses, teaching people how to transform, distress and wax furniture, learn basic techniques like blending colour and decorative finishes such as gilding, decoupage, crackle-glazing and stencilling. You can sign up for an intensive 2-dayer then feel confident about tackling that ugly tango-d looking pine dresser that has needed attention for the longest time. The beauty of Chalk Paints is you don’t even need to do all the laborious and tedious sanding preparation; you can just slap on the paint, directly onto varnished or treated wood. It’s sounds so easy – or at least would be if you have been on the course. At the moment they take place each month but are so in demand Vanessa is planning to offer more days. DIY fans should start an orderly queue.
27a&b Belvedere, Lansdown Road, Bath; 01225 445855
From the name (translation: lovely stuff), you can guess that the contents of this shop are sourced across the Channel. Based in a lofted building in a 1000 square foot space, La Belle Etoffe has been selling an ever changing range of French and Continental antique and vintage indoor and outdoor furniture since 2007. You might find anything, from a handsome pair of brown leather club chairs in excellent condition and a vintage oak 4-drawer filing cabinet to a set of six folding slatted patio/café chairs to partner up with a green metal garden table. And that’s just a taster as there are all sorts of out of the ordinary things if you look hard enough, like an Italian gilded toleware flower lamp, a rare enamel kitchen clock in mint condition and myriad ornate mirrors and lights (all rewired and ready for installation). Owners Mike Taylor and Vicki Boyd go on buying trips every couple of months so it’s a constant delight to see what’s been added to the collection. The “At A Glance” section of the website is a very efficient way of looking at what’s on offer but if you’re in the area this is a great place to go and while away some time and fantasise about unnecessary necessities like a lit bateau daybed. Perfect for some daydreaming.
37 Rossiter’s Road, Frome, Somerset; 01373 453303
8. The Triton Gallery, Cheltenham
A small compact shop majoring on antique decorative lights and mirrors. Think elaborate chandeliers and striking wall sconces and C18th and C19th mirrors. The owner Lorenzo Bianco is a colourful character who has been in the business for 25 years. With a name like that you’d expect him to speak with a thick Italian accent but it’s more antipodean as he arrived here via New Zealand. Lorenzo travels to France, Italy and Belgium, among other places where he unearths a variety of different pieces – the most noticeable being an 8ft Gothic gilt metal chandelier that was an original gasolier now converted to electricity. It looks like it once belonged in a Puglian palace. A Trumeau mirror also has the faded grandeur feel of something that might have originally graced the walls of a fine chateau. Or how about a huge pair of 5ft Italian wall “appliqués” fitted with 1960s Murano glass? Why not, if you want something a bit different and have a hallway big enough. According to Lorenzo: “Everybody’s home is a stage set and lighting creates a scheme.” It’s no wonder he specialises in the two key things – mirrors and lights – that can vastly improve a room and enhance a space.
27 Suffolk Parade, Cheltenham, Glos; 01242 510477
9. Susie Cole, Lyme Regis
Not strictly interiors only, this shop has a little bit of everything, old and new. Old might include a 1960s brown leather sofa, upholstered armchairs and pouffes, trunks, industrial storm lamps, and vintage teacups. New incorporates quilts, cushions, pottery and contemporary curtain rods. There’s a delightful hotchpotch of unapologetically feminine looks, different eras, textiles and aesthetics. Costume jewellery hangs from dresser hooks alongside pretty teapots and a set of sandwich plates. Old perfume bottles share a shelf with Susie’s own brand soaps and unguents. “It’s a bit mad really,” says Susie the quirky “rammed full” shop she has been running with her husband Nigel for 10 years. It’s a great place to check out if you’re in the vicinity as there’s so much to peer at. Susie travels to France and Italy to find stock and also welcomes local handmade products too. She will have vintage furniture restored or tweaked to make it usable often perked up with vintage fabrics. And when you’re finished here you can pop next door to Ginger Beer, the sister shop which has all manor of accessories for the garden and conservatory such as Turkish urns, old watering cans and Edwardian croquet sets.
15 Broad Street, Lyme Regis, Dorset; 01297 444933
10. Hambledon Gallery, Blandford
The Hambledon Gallery first opened its doors as an artists’ meeting place and gallery in 1962 later exhibiting work by well known British artists Henry Moore, Cecil Beaton, Elisabeth Frink, Julian Trevelyan and Mary Fedden. Slowly over the years the space expanded over several floors and morphed into a shop becoming the lifestyle emporium it is today. Run by Wendy Suffield, it still sells some local art but now mainly stocks all the nuggets and personal touches that make a house homely – cushions, throws, bedspreads, linen baskets, crockery, glasses, hooks, trugs and boot racks. You can also buy picnic ware, clothes, shoes, soaps and scented candles. Wendy’s daughters have all helped out over the years. The eldest Victoria now works full time at her store The Hambledon in Winchester, Sandy the middle daughter designs the graphics for both shops while Charlotte, the youngest of the three sisters, is part of the team at the Blandford shop. The Hambledon is now in its 51st year and keeps up to date with an everchanging stock. “We tweet, we Facebook…” says Charlottle, and next year they plan to go back to being a gallery for two weeks during Dorset Art Week – something they did last year which was hugely successful. Watch this space…
40-44 Salisbury St, Blandford Forum, Dorset; 01258 452880
Other places worth checking out:
Dairy House Antiques, Shaftesbury
Griffin Mill, Stroud
Malabar Trading, Bridport
No. 21, Shepton Mallet
Trowbridge Gallery, Castle Cary
Laura Campbell is a fashion and interiors writer and stylist.