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A life in antiques - Spring fever

PUBLISHED: 11:51 06 April 2009 | UPDATED: 15:54 20 February 2013

French garden furniture works equally well both indoors and outdoors for Surrey antique hunters

French garden furniture works equally well both indoors and outdoors for Surrey antique hunters

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham explains why French garden furniture will be all the rage this year

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2009

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham explains why French garden furniture will be all the rage this year







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For me, the arrival of March marks the beginning of spring and the start of my instinctive need to expand my living space to the outdoors. Tables, chairs, decorative paraphernalia and all manner of potted containers get spruced up as I start to plan how my outdoor retreat will be styled this year.

It is amazing how quickly a tired and dull winter garden can be transformed with the addition of a few pretty pieces of furniture and a sprinkling of bright and textural soft furnishings and accessories. Every year, weather permitting, my outdoor haven quickly becomes my favourite place at home and inspires fresh thinking and often the needed impetus for change within the business.

Interestingly, though, we are increasingly finding that customers will choose to rotate key finds for their garden within their own homes. For example, we have had many customers who have chosen pretty French painted metal tables and chairs with the clear intention that these pieces will transcend both the seasons and areas within their homes.

With that in mind, we recently sourced a variety of painted tables from France, dating from the early 1900s, in a simple café style design. They would make wonderful garden escapes for breakfast or lunch, or a pretty oasis to sit and enjoy a glass of wine with friends. We have also had people buying such pieces to use as decorative platforms on which to display a seasonal potted herb or flower garden.

Whatever their purpose outdoors, during deliveries to customers' homes, we have found that many are using these enchanting pieces inside over the autumnal and winter months. The often chipped white paint on elegant French metal chairs adds a quirky and visually pleasing addition to any shabby chic interior. Displayed alongside either old or more contemporary pieces, the look creates a feeling of vintage glamour, with individual pieces appearing as if they should have always belonged indoors.

That je ne sais quoi

Personally, I find it quite exciting to see these simple and often utilitarian pieces being used for different purposes. At a time when many of us are looking to pull our belts in, it seems not only resourceful but also somewhat intriguing that antique items are increasingly transcending their usual boundaries.

In my head, my outdoor space has already been planned and, as I write, my spirits feel lifted by the exciting thought of warmer mornings and barmier hazy evenings. Whether our ever-changing English climate agrees with my desire to breakfast outside each morning remains to be seen. I have a feeling that my dramatic and much-coveted garden parasol could come in handy on rainy days!

Enjoy the change that this season brings and I hope that you have fun moving your furniture around to create new living spaces. I look forward to our next instalment!






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






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