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A life in antiques - Turning the tables

PUBLISHED: 17:55 11 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:57 21 February 2013

This pretty French furniture dates back to the early 1900s

This pretty French furniture dates back to the early 1900s

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham Alison Hougham reports on Surrey antiques

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2008

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham Alison Hougham reports on Surrey antiques






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







Whatever the occasion, it's always a real pleasure for me to take time out to entertain friends and family at home. The enjoyment I get from preparing a special table setting is, for me, as much a part of the fun of the evening as the actual meal itself. Whether an intimate dinner for two or a more grand party for ten, I get a real sense of excitement about creating a scene in which my guests will feel relaxed, welcomed and inspired.

As such, dining room furniture always has a special sense of occasion for me and I was thrilled when we recently met a new supplier who is now providing The Packhouse with the most exquisite French dining room furniture that would work well in both a formal or informal setting.

The French connection
For instance, this delightful painted table, pictured below, dates back to the early 1900s and has a classic parquet top with carved legs and feet. These would have originally been polished but were painted at a later stage, as it became more fashionable. The table has extending leaves at both ends, which makes it ideal for everyday mealtimes and more elaborate dinner parties. The oak chairs, with rush seat pads, are of the same period and match the table's relief perfectly.

Originally used to serve from, the French buffet cupboard would also have provided a home to display plates and decorative objects within the dining room. This particular buffet dates back to the early 1900s and is made from oak with carved panels. Again, as styles and trends have changed, this piece would have seen many paint finishes over the years.

Dating from 1900-1920, the cupboard has been restored and painted, with some panels having been replaced. This style of unit was used to store food and would have been lockable to stop people pinching the jam, tea and coffee that were expensive items during this era.

Best-laid plans...
I had started to plan in my head all the elements for what type of table setting we were going to create for our new set of furniture within The Packhouse. A simple yet elegant French runner, vintage crystal glassware, floral chintzy china and a most dramatic French candelabra that I had recently found in France...

But my grand plans were brought to an abrupt halt when one of our customers took a shine to this magnificent set and purchased it immediately - very kindly letting us finish the photo shoot first! Our new supplier was thrilled and we have just collected three new replacement dining suites that have taken pride of place.

In the meantime, we have had to say bon voyage to the wonderful set below and hope very much that the new owner will enjoy many jovial and stylish dinner parties around this beautiful table.








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






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