Autumn Turning

This is a strange tale, but very funny…

If you happened to read last week’s blog, I said I’d be posting some photos of the new shop. Last weekend, Bridie and I did a massive re-vamp in the store.  We closed for a couple of days, brought our builder Adam in, ripped out display cabinets, installed a beautiful new (old) shop counter, repainted, and displayed masses new stock. It was such fun… the sort of day that is hard work and a bit scary at the beginning but which leaves you with one of those ‘worth it’ feelings at the end of it all.

But the story really starts a few months ago.

“Guys”, started an email from Colin, our friendly technical whizz who runs all the I.T. in the architecture studio and manages the shop website… “Guys, we have a problem”.

“We’ve received this review on Google…. I’m very sorry… not sure what we can do about it….”

Colin attached a copy of the first review below, written by someone called Sacheverell Pei.


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(you won’t mind my including the two reviews that followed – thank you Nicholas, thank you Daniel).

But I read Sacheverell’s review.

And I thought to myself….

You’re right.

From time to time in shopkeeping, as Bridie and I have learned so many times in the last 7 years, you magically get things right – and then they go wrong.  A bit like cooking, a bit like gardening – sometimes it works perfectly and sometimes it doesn’t.  Why?  Well, if we knew the answer to that we probably wouldn’t just be running a little shop on Rugby Street, let’s face it.

But I saw Sacheverell’s review and if I’m really honest, 3 months ago, I suppose we are talking about back in June, the shop was in a lull moment.  Things weren’t perfect.  I had masses on my plate in the architectural and decoration office (oh, plus a wedding to plan with Charlie) – and I must admit, that when everything gets too much, the shop sometimes becomes the orphaned child of my attention. Bridie had masses on her plate too, what with one thing and another. And somehow, the shop was in an off moment.

I wouldn’t go quite so far as Sacheverell to call myself a “blogger”…. if I’m really honest, the blog feels like a very very tiny part of my life as a whole – albeit a fun and important one. And I am really not sure that I would have called our loyal readership “gaga housewives” although that did  make me chuckle.  Sacheverell, watch out….. hehehe.

But as I read Colin’s rather concerned email, I thought to myself… I do love a little wake-up call – however inconvenient the timing.

Bride and I sat down for a drink that evening and agreed that when the moment was right, we’d press that most satisfying button… and have a shake up.

One of the things I’ve learned in life is to be very, very self-critical. That’s the only way to really get anywhere. In the architectural studio, we’re constantly ripping things up and starting again – or at the very least, tweaking and tweaking and tweaking drawings until the guys in the office are completely sick and tired of me.  In decoration, it’s a question of thinking again and again… of never just sticking with the first or the second or the third scheme, but letting ideas settle and mature in response to each step in the magical dance of putting together rooms.

And in the shop, it’s a question of listening hard when people think we’re doing well – or badly.

If you’re able to pop by, We’d love to show you the beautiful new shop.  If you’re not, then I thought you might enjoy these pics.

It’s all about pumpkin orange walls in the shop this autumn – a beautiful colour (The Long Room,  by my friend David Oliver over at Paint Library).

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Black-framed engravings look very good against The Long Room.
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New suzanis in stock:P1020457

John Derian & Astier de Villatte take pride of place in the centre of the new shop (and of course our shop is an homage to both – both our good friends…)P1020271 P1020265

Bridie’s new marbled plaster obelisks are completely bonkers. I love them:P1020269

Peter Hone’s plasters look stunning against the burnt orange walls…

Bits and pieces.P1020238 P1020213

I think the whole world is in love with Bridie’s new brush pots. This time they’re dotted around and about rather than a massed Alphabet. Because that’s how I think you’d use them at home.P1020214

(obviously you’ll have guessed that that’s a homage to C.Z. Guest).


Rarer than hen’s teeth these days, we were thrilled to find a few original copies of Osbert Lancaster’s London Night and Day…. which of course, has been reprinted, but that’s not quite the same (is IT?).

And I’m obsessed by Wedgwood glass candlesticks by Ronald Sennett-Wilson, and I’m very glad the obsession has made its way into every corner of the shop just now.  I can’t quite count up how many Ronald Sennett-Wilson candlesticks we’ve got at home.

Well… anyway…. it’s a nice new start to the autumn. The blog isn’t often about the shop, not least because I never really like these pages to get too commercial, but I hope you’re happy to see what we’ve been up to.

And Sacheverell if you’re passing through London – call in and say hello. If you dare hehe.

Well – that was last week. It was a hectic week – and on Friday afternoon, I was so happy to catch the train down to Dorset, resting on the bring of late summer and autumn. When I’d finally finished work stuff, Charlie and I went for a beautiful walk. The valley glowed.

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I’m constantly grateful to have this beautiful country on our doorstep.P1020311 P1020313 P1020330 P1020339

The garden, too, is turning – the vegetable garden thick with dahlias and harvest. The borders have gone a bit mad – that time of year.P1020352 P1020357 P1020360 P1020362 P1020363 P1020370 P1020372 P1020374 P1020376 P1020378 P1020390 P1020402 P1020406 P1020410 P1020412 P1020413 P1020415 P1020417 P1020426 P1020427 P1020428 P1020433

Sunset was soft… as we walked up the road for supper with Jim and Nic.P1020440 P1020442 P1020443

Our time in Dorset was brief. Yesterday night was the CRAZY (the only word) marriage of Ashley Hicks and Katalina Sharkey de Solis…. at The Grove, Ashley’s extraordinary house in Oxfordshire, the gardens planned and planted by his father David.  Bonkers.  For those very sensible comments on last week’s post about Instagram – Ashley and Kata met on Instagram. You see what I mean?!! It was a magical, happy, crazy night.

We’ve been feeling a little bleary eyed today in the sparkling sunshine of London.

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