Welcome to The Painted Pearl

Thank you for joining us on our inaugural blog!

This coincides with the launch of both our new website and our partnership with Derwent House in Witney, Oxfordshireand is a wonderful opportunity to tell you more about us and how we work. If you’ve haven’t seen our furniture pieces at either Derwent House, in our previous store in Whitstable or online through social, you’ll discover we work with all styles of vintage furniture and often we’re asked where we source our pieces. There isn’t a simple answer, as in the vintage world interesting pieces turn up all over the place. Instead we’ve developed ‘hypersensitive peripheral vision’, the knack of spotting pieces just out of plain sight. I love to reclaim those pieces that get overlooked, pieces that with a bit of creative reimagining become stunning vintage items taking on a completely new lease of life. For us this is a real thrill and incredibly satisfying.

Not being limited to a particular style of furniture keeps things interesting for us too, the creative challenge is to draw out the best of every piece, whatever its style and however unpromising it may look initially. It keeps the results fresh.

Another question we get asked is how we decide what to do with our pieces. Most times the furniture tells us what to do,not the other way round! We love painting furniture but we are not indiscriminate, we always try to maintain the integrity of the piece. For example, hiding under old dark varnishes we often find beautiful original wood and revealing it anew is wonderful. Another good example of this attention to detail is the retaining of original but stained linen damask in a Victorian cabinet we recently completed. The fine threads and self-pattern were so lovely we dyed it with Ancient Copper Metallico paint, thus hiding the stains and letting the damask design subtly shimmer with a contemporary twist. Its part of the balance we seek to strike when making unfashionable pieces relevant and desirable again whilst sympathetically reviving intrinsic beauty or classic features.

There are always exceptions however, and they are the showstoppers. They came about as a response to seeing predictable painted furniture and the over-use of certain brands of wallpaper to embellish furniture surfaces. What transpired was my own range of bold and unapologetic designs which gave us our own creative signature.

Our latest showstopper is a cocktail cabinet (available now from Derwent House) embellished with my Nirvana design, an ethereal, kaleidoscopic repeating pattern with a watery colourway, which is actually imagery of gumtree bark that I photographed whilst travelling. I’ve digitally layered the images and changed the colour balance creating an otherworldly feel. My husband, Steve, is an absolute stickler for a crisp flat paint finish so we framed the Nirvana design with Autentico’s Sailors Blue in their incredibly sheer Versante Matt finish which nudged the styling of this classic piece into modern luxe.

More recently we’ve been exploring Venetian PolishedPlasters, using those ancient, natural materials on our furniture to form marble and stone-like table tops and decorative panels. We’ve been working with Volterra, a heavy bodied lime plaster-paint applied with a trowel that can be left flat matt or burnished and polished. We’ve been pushing the Volterra finishes further making them metallic or lustrous, texturising them and adding other mineral based products to alter the colour and patina. The results are always stunningly tactile and like our furniture and design work, there is elegance to it and an earthy homage to, and respect for, the natural world. That pleases us.

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