A life in antiques - Old favourites

PUBLISHED: 11:15 08 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:07 20 February 2013

The delightful old Dutch armoire

The delightful old Dutch armoire

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham explains why old friends are the best

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2009

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham explains why old friends are the best


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



I have been busy preparing for the arrival of a much-loved and rather batty old friend, who has decided to descend on me at very short notice for a long-promised stay that could be for as little as a weekend or as long as a month.

Either way, it's sure to involve some late night, alfresco evenings in the garden, catching up, recalling hilarious stories from our past and generally putting the world to rights! It is one of those friendships that has evolved with the passing of time and our many intertwined life experiences - both fun and frivolous, sad and challenging - and we have become firmly rooted in our desire to treasure the all too infrequent times that we spend together.

Keen to make her feel at home, I have been trying earnestly to clear out my spare room and make some space in an old cupboard and chest of drawers. Despite being surrounded by wonderful objects all the time at The Packhouse, I am suddenly very aware that at home my storage has become all too cramped. Cupboards seem to spill over at the moment with disregarded winter clothes that hang neglected next to brighter more floaty summer alternatives. As I try to cram away the chunkier varieties that can now happily hibernate until autumn, I am frustrated with myself for not having kept the delightful old Dutch armoire, dating from the 1800s, that I recently found at an antiques fair in Nottinghamshire.

Now on sale in The Packhouse, this limed-oak linen press has had the shelf space removed and comes complete with hanging rails (ideal storage for all that winter paraphernalia). The chest beneath has one real drawer space topped with mock drawers above. The empire-style columns on the corners of the cabinet have brass Corinthian column tops, and the brass fittings and mirrored doors are all offset by a pretty painted interior.

A storage solution

This is a particularly attractive piece of furniture that would grace any room. As our requirements for storage seems to change seasonally, it could also evolve chameleon-like in between. Hanging could be interchanged with shelves and a full winter cupboard could suddenly transform into a wonderful kitchen pantry or, indeed, go back to its original format as a linen press for all your sheets and pillowcases.

One thing is certain: this weekend old favourites have the priority, and as I await the arrival of my slightly mad but splendid companion, I hope her visit does last a month. And when she is off again on her travels, I will make the time to find myself a permanent storage cupboard for my guest room that can remain empty and ready for unexpected guests!

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


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