Let’s go vintage
Achieve an eclectic and stylish Interior for your home with help from Oxbow & Peach owners Lizzie and Georgie as they share their passion for all things vintage.
Looking to create a unique and personalised home that doesn’t pay homage to one particular style or era? I think there’s something quite dynamic about interiors that are a little bit of this and little bit of that – they have a history and a story behind them. We’re not talking rooms that look like granny chic has thrown up all over them, but interiors with a wow factor that’s completely unique and personal. Vintage and eclectic styles are everywhere these days and whether you want an industrial look or a dash of rural chic now is the time to start raiding your grandmother’s attic.
If you’re bonkers about vintage, but not too sure how to pull it off, then let me introduce you to Lizzie and Georgie from Oxbow & Peach, who have a showroom in the pretty village of Whittlesford, just south of Cambridge. I met with them recently to pick their brains as to what inspired them to turn vintage and how to achieve it without you’re sitting room resembling a swinging sixties crash pad! Both met at school in Cambridge, many moons ago, and have turned their passion for seeking out unusual, vintage finds from antique decanters and vintage china, to French linens and mirrors into a thriving business. Much of their time is spent sourcing new finds and they frequently head off on road trips around the UK, and there is talk of heading abroad – they are the Drew Pritchards of Cambridgeshire.
When did your interest in vintage interiors start?
Georgia: I first started on my vintage journey when I bought a house that needed heaps of work. I wanted to turn it into somewhere I could call home – a personal space with a relaxed atmosphere, nothing too starchy or formal. What started as a hobby gradually grew into a business.
Lizzie: Being friends from whey back when at school we shared our thoughts and ideas on each other’s renovation projects. We were also having to be creative and resourceful as we didn’t have a great deal to spend and quickly realised that we revelled in the joys of recycling old pieces and hey, who doesn’t love a bargain!
How do you start integrating vintage finds into your home?
Georgie: Eclecticism is an enduring aspect of a vintage style, rooms need to be allowed to evolve – we’re not talking a 60-minute makeover here. It takes time to make rooms work and the key to success is by creating a layered effect. Start with one or two vintage finds and then allow them to find their space in a room, from there you can see colours or styles that start to prevail.
Lizzie: Patience is a virtue – it may take some time to find the exact finds for your home that will work with what’s currently in existence. When you try a new style and are unsure of its success, don’t give in to the temptation to change it right away. Live with it for a while, and add other elements as sometimes things that at first seem to shout out, begin to merge in when the space becomes filled with other items.
What guidelines can you give to achieving a successful vintage look?
Georgie: Forget convention, interior design can take itself too seriously. There aren’t really any restrictions on what you can include but a starting point is to surround yourself with things you love and see what takes shape. It’s important not to overcrowd a space – creating a focal point (or accentuating an existing one) will help create an eye catching element. A bold decorative item, a fireplace or accent wall will enhance the layout of the room rather than making it feel cluttered.
Lizzie: If you’re struggling to know where to start consider how the rooms will be used – elements like baskets, bookshelves, drinks trays, occasional tables and china can help to pull a room together based on purpose.
Where are the best places for people to search for vintage finds?
Georgie: For us it’s an all consuming passion, trying to source the right vintage finds that we think will appeal. We scour auction rooms, reclamation yards, flea markets, car boot sales and you’ll even find us ferreting in the recycling centre! Those are all good places to start – never walk past an antique or charity shop without having a nose, you just never know. It takes hardwork and it’s time consuming – not everyone has that in abundance, or is that keen on sifting through peoples beloved toot – that’s why businesses like Oxbow & Peach make life easier.
Lizzie: Now we are established we’re are often approached by people wanting us to sell things. We’ve learnt over the years to be more discerning, in the early years we said yes to everything, as we didn’t want to appear rude. Nowadays we know what people like, what sells well, but we still like to throw in the unexpected – that’s what vintage is all about. The joy of eclectic is that it can be highly personal – people find things on eBay, items they’ve inherited, found on holiday or picked up at a local market.
To fuse or not to fuse? Can you match different eras and if so, how?
Georgie: Mixing and matching is more stylish than complete co-ordination which can be taken too far. Vintage is timeless, contemporary and uniquely personal – aim to create an interior to reflect your lifestyle and passions, don’t be restricted by rules. Don’t let one era or theme dominate – it’s a balancing act.
Lizzie: The rooms in your home should complement eachother, though variances create interest, it will feel disjointed if your style changes abruptly from one space to the next. If you’re making the decision to upgrade a tired décor then a commitment to a style should be reflected throughout the house.
Are there rules regarding colour and size in a vintage look?
George: Shape, colour, age and size are design elements to use when combining objects. Colour is a very personal choice but it can help to harness a feel if you focus on one colour that you consistently refer to in order to create a cohesive look. The light source is an important consideration in terms of what colours you choose. Remember there are really no rules – put big items in small rooms and small things in cavernous spaces and see what happens?
What designers have inspired you with their vintage looks?
Lizzie: I am not aware of a particular influence just an appreciation of the enduring quality of age. It’s best to follow ones gut instinct and not be hindered by fashion. Don’t be reticent, a vintage style is characterised by a range of styles: textures, art, a rug, cushions, paintings or objet d’art are all ways of bringing a designed mismatch into any room
Oxbow & Peach, The Old School, Old School Lane, Whittlesford, Cambridge CB22 4LT, oxbowandpeach.co.uk
The showroom is open Thurs 25 May – Sat 27 May and then again on Thurs 15 Jun – Sat 17 Jun. Oxbow & Peach will be exhibiting at the inaugural Cambridge Home & Garden Show at the Guildhall in Cambridge on September 9 (date for the diary).