Tell us the story behind the creation of Home Sweet Homestyle?
I have always been interested in vintage homeware and this seemed like an ideal opportunity to channel my passion for collecting into an opportunity to share my enthusiasm with others.
What do you think is the appeal of vintage – and in particular the style of the 1940s and 1950s?
I think the main appeal would be individuality; it is very difficult to achieve unique décor in today's world. There are so many high street retailers and homeware chains that all seem to be offering very much the same thing. Apart from this, where is the quality? Will today's products still be around in 60 to 70 yrs time? I particularly lean towards the 1940s and 1950s as pieces can still be found in good condition and I can sell to my customers at prices which are affordable enough to enable them to achieve the desired look without breaking the bank. Plus the nostalgic appeal – I love the well-made functionality of 1940s utility ware, and the kitchenalia we all remember our grannies using, along with the optimistic colours, experimental shapes, and patterns of the 1950s.
Where do you source most of your products?
To start with the majority of my products were sourced at local auction houses, but as my business has grown, people now email me to ask if I would like to buy specific pieces or collections. Sometimes I am lucky enough to find a treasure in a charity shop, but this is very rare these days, although I still like to look when I have the time.
Do you have any favourite products on the site at the moment?
Yes - all of them! I have to want them myself in order to offer them for sale, so I always ask myself 'would I want this?' and if the answer is yes then it's in. But, if I were really pushed to choose it would the fabulous cocktail cabinet with illuminated rose panels – it's just so 50s kitsch. I also love the eiderdowns - they remind me of my own childhood and a snugly bed. And the suitcases - again it's memories of childhood holidays. I guess it's all about nostalgia.
Which other homeware sites and shops do you admire?
This is a difficult one as one of the reasons I set up my website was that there seemed to be a gap in the market. There are a lot of people selling a spread of products from ancient to modern, which makes it very difficult to focus and you end up feeling more confused than when you started. However I do like the Cath Kidston reproductions - those could be collectables for future generations.
Is your home a shrine to all things 1940s and 50s?
Yes, as much as possible. Our kitchen is based on a 1950s American diner, all red and white - we brought over a Dinette suite from the States and had a neon made to put above it. We have a 1957 Wurlitzer jukebox which we use to practise our jive dancing and another favourite is our cocktail bar with all the original glassware - Babycham deer - and bar accessories; in fact it's difficult not to keep everything I find – I just love it all.
You offer a 'vintageseek' service to source particular items for customers. What are you most often asked to find? What's the most random thing anyone has been looking for- and did you find it?
We get such a diverse range of requests from vintage ironing boards to obscure cookbooks, hard to find china and specifics like Trafari and Renoir costume jewellery. I guess the most unusual request was for a vintage mangle - a gentleman with a collection of classic vehicles wanted this to wring out his chamois leathers. And yes - I found a fabulous Acme model for him from the States.
Take a step back in time and see it all for yourself at www.homesweethomestyle.com. Tel: 01323 504345.