Walking into the old Antique Shop on the High Street in Coleshill, established in 1903, for the first time, I’m not exactly sure what to expect – especially from an award winning Interior Design Company. I’ve been told to “prepare myself for nothing I’ve ever experienced before!” I enter through the green shop door with its old-fashioned bell and sign which reads ‘by appointment only’, imagining what to expect on the other side is near impossible…
An emporium of fantasy, furniture, fabric and floral arrangements, colour, culture, texture, glitz, glam, porcelain, paintings, lights, lamps and everything in between is waiting for me. It takes me more than a moment to compose myself as the door closes behind me. I move on into the corridored space between the precisely disordered walls and over to meet Gary, Jenny and Tony. These are the people who have lovingly built up this business, from a small local antique shop to a world renowned interior design company.
They are warmly welcoming, creative types – all well dressed with flair and big beaming smiles, and an obvious passion for what they do. I ask if I can take a look around and use my camera and, of course, they are more than happy to oblige.
Ducking, twisting and dodging off into the jungle of antiques I am unprepared for the vast choice of lovely items all around me. But some are fragile! My Mother’s words from childhood echo in my ears “Look with your eyes, don’t touch with your fingers.” I can’t help but imagine myself as the original Bull in the China Shop, desperately avoiding the seemingly priceless heirlooms, each with their own story to tell.
I work my way through the thick array of objet d’art to the rear of the store. Tony greets me, helpfully making a small path up the winding mahogany staircase, each step filled with treasures. I take a breath each time I place my foot, hoping my clumsy Doc Marten-clad feet will behave.
I notice as I am venturing around the space that possibly, once upon a lifetime ago, the shop might have resembled a show home – each area representing a room. I think about the effort it has taken to tie in each object so firmly. Eras and decades merge seamlessly, all fashioned together through colour, texture and a rich eye for detail.
I pick my route carefully, relishing antique pieces carefully positioned amidst the shop and I wonder – out loud – who it is that keeps this shop so flawlessly spotless? Tony, who is busying himself below the mezzanine, tells me it’s an older couple who have helped out at the shop for years. This makes me smile, the business is prospering and nurtures those who have nurtured it.
I potter further into the rear of the shop and I’m surprised how far back it goes. I have ended up in an even older part of the property, circa 1600, with an uneven floor and the charm of a rural cottage like my Aunt’s in Wiltshire. This takes me back to my childhood. I realise when I hear close voices that I must be directly above where I started, and find a small staircase, mostly filled with fabric samples, to scan down and sycophantically rave on (for much longer than necessary) about the jaw-dropping wonderment the property houses.
Squeezing back up the staircase, I whip around to find an even slighter set of steps which takes me up onto the second floor. I ruminate to myself how the grand furniture made it up there in the first place.
It is daytime, but inside you’d never tell. I feel like I’ve been transported like Mr Ben or The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe into a magical land. The lamps and mirrors create their own warm glow, comfortably leading me around the property.
Retracing my steps again, I make my way carefully back downstairs in full belief that I have exhausted the maze. However, like a speakeasy bar during prohibition, I am whisked through a curtain to yet another part of the property where I had assumed a small Drawing Room lay. Cosy low ceilings and exposed beams tell me this is the oldest part of the property and leads to the final staircase. A long thin flight of steps with a bedroom halfway up and a bathroom right at the top with luxuriant marble and huge mirrors.
I leave the property feeling warm and cosy, and head home to my Scandi apartment, wishing I could take some of the lavish beauty with me.
The experience and passion of Gary, Jenny and Tony shows in both their work and their shop. Take a look at the beautiful designs they have realised this year for Aurora at the exclusive Hampton Gate Development & visit them online at www.coleshillinteriors.com.
Thank you, Gary, Jenny and Tony for such a wonderful experience gaining an insight into your business.