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A life in antiques - Junk or treasure?

PUBLISHED: 18:01 11 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:30 20 February 2013

A simple pile of old junk or a treasure trove of hidden delights

A simple pile of old junk or a treasure trove of hidden delights

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham Alison Hougham reports on the pros and cons of architectural salvage

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2008

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham Alison Hougham reports on the pros and cons of architectural salvage






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







Style is definitely instinctive - you either have it or you don't. Endless amounts of cash cannot buy it; it comes from within and often takes shape in the most modest of forms. This is certainly true of architectural salvage. There are those who will see it as a simple pile of old junk, no good for anywhere, while others will bubble over with excitement at the treasures they have discovered and the endless possibilities to incorporate a particular piece into a well-designed home.

If you let your imagination flow, architectural salvage can help you create areas within your home and garden that enable you to stylishly blend old with new in perfect harmony - from the more gracious salvage items, such as urns, statues, saddle stones, seats and columns, to the more utilitarian and rustic mix of old wheels, sinks, pieces of timber and frames. Both can add solidity, structure, emphasis and magic to a garden or home. All that is needed is a little ingenuity and an eye for beauty. A desire for style less ordinary may also mean that you are lucky enough to hunt down some bargains in among the more expensive pieces.

Unearthing hidden delights

We have a small but frequently changing collection of architectural salvage at The Packhouse and a regular following of people who enjoy rummaging for a less ubiquitous look. There is always a thrill in realising the discarded door you have just discovered could in fact make the perfect table top! Turning the unwanted and unloved into something less predictable has for many become an art form and for us a constant source of amusement as to what will be designed next.

We have a slightly eccentric chap from Scotland who constantly supplies us with new items. This month we are delighted to have come across a set of original granite saddle stones... used originally to support timber frame agricultural storage buildings away from ground level, to avoid damp and rats! Nowadays, they make wonderful decorative pieces for the garden and along with a collection of planted chimney pots can create a stunning feature.

Many of the stone sinks and troughs we find are used nowadays to plant herbs or to create small little garden zones for children. The small stone cherub came originally from a French chateau and would have stood on a plinth as a potential water feature but has latterly been converted to a lamp. The possibilities are endless...

I personally have my eye on the old groynes cut from a jetty in Normandy. The beautiful sea-aged wood with original iron bands and eyes, have me dreaming again of my place by the sea. Enjoy rummaging in the blustery autumn winds - it really is the best time of year to unearth those hidden delights.








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






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