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A life in antiques - Home and dry

PUBLISHED: 18:10 11 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:38 20 February 2013

The beautiful secretaire sits well in a festive setting

The beautiful secretaire sits well in a festive setting

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham Alison Hougham reports on kitting out the home office

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2008

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham Alison Hougham reports on kitting out the home office








Find out when and where upcoming Surrey antiques fairs are taking place









It's nearly that time of year again and, at home, festive preparations have already started in earnest. We have decided to invite friends and family to us again - it worked so well last Christmas and the colourful collection of characters involved seems to have set a new tradition in our home. Just like old and new pieces of furniture, it is perfectly possible to mix friends and family, and I'm already enjoying the endless phone conversations to discuss, disagree and finally decide on who would like to help with which part of the day!

Being able to do my admin at home during this busy season is brilliant as it enables me to concentrate away from the rush of The Packhouse. With so many of us now enjoying the benefits of being able to work from home, there has become a real need in the antiques market to source pieces of furniture that have a practical office usage as well as blending with the style and harmony of our surroundings.

Home sweet home
We are often asked by customers to source individual antique desks and cupboards for particular home office spaces, whether it be under the stairs, in a separate corner of a bedroom or sitting room or, in many more cases these days, as a bespoke room dedicated solely to work. So, I was particularly delighted to stumble across a truly beautiful secretaire (above right) that dates back to the late 1800s.

Of Dutch origin, this wonderful piece has a lockable fold-down front, which would have been used as a desk top. Originally, the exterior would have been of polished mahogany, but this has been painted to reflect changes in fashion. The interior, though, is untouched, with charming flights of drawers and shelves, still all in exquisite condition and perfect for correspondence and treasures.

The piece is charming, and many people have been drawn to its attractive and practical appeal already. Decorated festively for the season, I can just imagine sitting at this desk writing my Christmas cards with carols playing in the background! My reality, however, will be the opposite!


It's a hectic time of year for us, rushing around, getting things beautiful at The Packhouse, sourcing new stock continuously, while also trying to enjoy and take part in the festive season. I wouldn't have it any differently, though. I love what I do and thrive on the thrill and excitement that comes with the antiques market.

The phone beckons: my friend Lesley is calling to discuss whether we should all be dressing up for our Christmas feast in fancy dress or black tie - I fear fancy dress will be the desired choice! I smile and, joking aside, feel very lucky to be surrounded by people I care about so much. It is a time to rejoice and have fun and I look forward to the certain chaos that Christmas Day will bring.

I hope you all have a very special Christmas and look forward to our next catch-up in the New Year!








Find out when and where upcoming Surrey antiques fairs are taking place






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