Id like a two-seater Knole-style sofa but with simpler lines for around £3,000.
Some companies that make more modestly priced sofas will adjust proportions on request. For example, the Descartes (pictured) from Sofa.com has the essential Knole feature of the same height sides and back. A two-seater is priced from £1,245 covered in linen/cotton. If you choose the Avalon, however, which is the same sofa without buttoning, the price for a two-seater drops to £845. It can also be ordered with removable covers which would conceal the legs, making it resemble a Knole more closely. If you were to have the arms and back of the Descartes or Avalon made higher by 10cm, it would increase the price by 50 per cent, but you would still get the sofa you want for around £2,000. Seriously Sofas offers similar height
adjustments on its Stevenson sofa. Different legs can be specified, theres the option of removable covers and, in a fabric from the companys range, the adjusted sofa would cost around £2,000. Another sofa that can have the sides and back height adjusted within your budget is the Barker from Bespoke Sofa London You could also commission a sofa from an independent upholsterer.
I would like some vintage factory stools or chairs for my kitchen. Can you tell me where I should look?
The Old Cinema restores lots of vintage industrial furniture, mainly from factories in the US and France. A variety of swivel chairs used by machinists from the 1930s to the 1950s cost from £80 to £200 each. Ormston Saint is an online supplier of restored vintage industrial furniture. Its stock usually includes 1950s Bauhaus swivel chairs (pictured) and 1940s machinists? chairs. These are priced from £250 to £395, including mainland UK delivery. For new stools in an industrial style, look at the Turner swivel stool with wooden seat, priced from £79 at Cult Furniture, and the Industrial Twist iron stool with mango wood seat, £120 at Cox & Cox.
We?re on the lookout for a contemporary white dining table and it has to be a real workhorse. It must seat 10 for parties and cope with children?s art and crafts as well as daily family meals. Our budget is around £400.
A substantial contemporary table to seat 10 for £400 is quite a tall order and I have stretched your budget with some of these suggestions. However, the Lia 10-seater table (pictured) by House at John Lewis, which extends to 270cm, is well within budget at £299. It has chrome tripod legs and a white lacquered MDF top and if it looks more racehorse than workhorse, that may be deceptive. Others to try are the Multi matt white lacquer dining table, 200cm, at £510 from Go Modern or, from Made, the Bramante in white gloss lacquer at £499. This extends from 174cm up to 219cm with the first extension, and up to 264cm with the second. Protect a white tabletop with a PVC cloth as some surfaces absorb colour from paints and pens. Less contemporary, but reassuringly substantial, is the Halland Extendable table in white painted pine with oiled pine top. It has a butterfly extension, which takes it up to 220cm long, and is within your budget at £349 from Fashion For Home. Another is the Beaufort table with white-painted legs and an oak top, extending to 180cm and priced at £325 from The Cotswold Company. A solid wood top can be re-finished if damaged, a point to consider when buying an all-purpose table.
I?m looking for a four-poster bed that has a plain framework and no detailing. I won?t be hanging any drapery.
Raft offers a substantial four-poster in natural or dark reclaimed teak (pictured), priced at £1,649 for a double. For a bed with a slim profile, try the Alfred in oak, designed by Sean Sutcliffe and priced from £2,604 for a queen size from Benchmark. Find dramatic black lacquer in the Canton, from £1,195 for a double from Lombok. Also well worth a look are the Oasis and Orchid beds, from £1,290 for a double in oak, ash, maple, cherry or walnut from The Natural Bed Company. You may also like the Contemporary Tapered four-poster, from £1,740 for a double in ash from The Four Poster Bed Company. Prices quoted do not include mattresses.
We are looking for a coffee table and side tables in glass with a metal frame that are not too heavy and not in brass. The coffee table should have a lower shelf for books and magazines.
The Madison glass coffee table and matching side tables have a narrow metal frame that comes in eight standard finishes (including Bronze, pictured) and eight specialist finishes; it’s available at Tom Faulkner. The coffee table with a lower glass shelf can be ordered square or rectangular in standard or bespoke sizes. The large rectangular version measures 120 x 70cm and costs £1,199. Side tables also come in several sizes, with the medium 50cm sq model priced at £499.
Do you know where we might find a corner sofa covered in purple velvet for around £2,500?
One way to keep the price down is to choose stock fabric from the sofa company rather than supply your own. Sofa.com sells online and you can try out sofas in its showroom, which is not far from you. It offers three styles of corner sofa and two ranges of velvet: Crushed Florentine in five colours, and Pure Cotton in eight colours, including Sloe (pictured, The Leon). Prices start at £2,090 for the Stella medium corner sofa in Crushed Florentine, and £2,760 in Pure Cotton Matt. Also competitively priced are the five styles of corner sofa at Sofas & Stuff. As a price example, the Wadenhoe corner sofa can be ordered in Scarborough velvet, which comes in 10 colours including Eggplant, for £2,333, though this fabric option isn’t shown for this sofa on the website.
I would love to source a stone coffee table similar to the one on the cover of H&G for November 2012. Can you find out where it came from?
The table pictured in Simon Pidgeon and John Bennett’s house was purchased 10 years ago from a store that no longer sells furniture. But Conservatory Interiors by Vale stocks the very similar Rectangular Stone Coffee Table in marble travertine (pictured). It measures H42 x W140 x D80cm and is priced at £585. An alternative is to have a table made. Mosaic & Stone makes stone tables to order, and a coffee table measuring 120 x 80cm with a rectangular base would cost £950 in either limestone or reconstituted stone, which are both soft cream colours.
I saw a console table similar in style to a butler’s table in a previous issue. Where can I find a table like it?
The nearest I have found is the Criss Cross console table (pictured), £575, from Nordic House It has brushed aluminium legs and a wooden marquetry top and measures H78 x W125 x D46cm. For a version with stainless steel legs and a glass top, look at the Alice console table, H78 x W112 x D36cm, £350, from John Lewis.
Our cherry bedroom furniture was in storage and, since its return, has had an unpleasant smell that also lingers on our clothes. Is there some way to eradicate it?
Your problem is probably mildew or mould. Wipe the insides of the cabinets and drawers with a cloth soaked in four tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda to eight pints of water and well wrung out, then wipe again with a new cloth soaked and wrung out in clear water. Leave the furniture open to dry in a well-ventilated room and hang a Moso Air Purifying Bag (pictured), £9.99, from Lakeland, inside. Or leave it open in a dry, well-ventilated, sunny room, using a de-humidifier, and put dishes of substances known to absorb smells, such as cat litter, charcoal or bicarbonate of soda, inside the empty furniture. Or try Mould Remover, £9.95 for 250ml, by Furniture Clinic, which is formulated to remove bacteria and musty smells. Apply on a soft cloth then wipe off with a clean damp cloth.
I have seen lots of apothecary cabinets on American websites but nothing similar in the UK. Can you help me find one that will work with the rest of my furniture, which is in yew and light oak?
Try Raft, which sells a 12-drawer apothecary cabinet (pictured) in natural recycled teak measuring H80 x W100 x D50cm, for £785; there’s also a six-drawer version for £465. The Hundred Eye chest TK04 from Shimu has 16 drawers and is available in light or warm elm (it also comes in black lacquer); this measures H89 x W82 x D35cm and costs £625. The eight-drawer Apothecary chest TKO5 from Shimu measures H48 x W85 x D35cm and costs £375. Other options include the Appleby nine-drawer chest in oak, H76 x W107 x D43cm, which would match your furniture. It costs £299 from The Cotswold Company.
I would love to buy antiques but never know if pieces are authentic or correctly priced. Are there any courses that would help?
Most antiques dealers start out as collectors or work with experienced dealers; others learn from taking a qualification in furniture restoration; and those working in auction houses often have an academic background in fine arts. One course that should give you a good grounding is Understanding Antiques, run by Regent Academy. It is taught through a series of assignments, marked by the academy’s tutors, and allows students to work at their own pace. The cost of the course is £405. Christie’s Education offers an Art Business course made up of seven modules, costing £695 each, while Sotheby’s Institute of Art runs a Decorative Design course over a single term, priced at £7,500. If you do consider approaching the subject by studying furniture restoration, a well-respected full-time course at West Dean College costs £11,565 for the year.
I’m looking for swan-neck brass drop handles for an antique chest of drawers. Does anyone supply handles without lacquer?
Swan-neck brass drop handles can be ordered unlacquered, although there will be a longer lead time as they have to be taken out of the production line before the standard finishes are applied. Armac Martin can supply its swan-neck drop handle 1685 (pictured) with a polished unlacquered finish. This is offered in a range of sizes based on the centre to centre measurement between the fixing holes; in the 8.3cm size they cost £11.35 each. Unlacquered brass will mellow as oxidisation occurs and occasional polishing will deliver a pleasing patina. Alternatively, try its antiqued-finish handles. This is applied to polished brass and can be modified with brass polish. For a more authentic finish, you could highlight areas of wear with polish applied on a cloth or grade 0000 wire wool.
When moving my computer, I tore a hole in the leather that lines my desk top. Where can I find new leather, and do you think will I be able to fit it myself?
K Restorations supplies leather for lining desks and tabletops in a choice of 24 colours and eight decorative gold tooling designs. These linings come with instructions for stripping off the old leather and fitting the new, and adhesive is provided. Two qualities of leather are offered. For large desks or tables, cowhide is recommended and a new 122 x 61cm lining is priced at £220. For smaller tables and desks, a thinner lambskin leather called skiver is suggested; a 122 x 61cm lining costs £125.
We are on the lookout for a chair similar to the one in the photocopy I’m sending you, which we would like to have reproduced as dining chairs for our Tudor farmhouse.
I sent a scan of your photocopy to various antiques dealers and two replied with opinions. Simon Hilton at I & JL Brown thinks it could be a campaign folding chair. Designed for travelling armies, this type of furniture had to be transportable and provide a degree of comfort. The company has a campaign chair in teak with leather seat and back (pictured), at around £375. Sean Clarke at campaign furniture specialist Christopher Clarke Antiques believes the chair in your picture is as likely to be a folding chair as a campaign chair. He would date it to either side of 1900 when many different designs for this type of chair existed. Typically, it would be caned and fitted with a squab cushion. You could ask him to source a chair for you, or try antiques dealers in your area whose details I am forwarding.
My long narrow living room lacks a fireplace, so it’s rather difficult to know how to furnish it. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can get round the problem?
The interior design concept of zoning – creating or defining areas for different activities within a larger space – is an effective way of bringing a feeling of intimacy to a long narrow room such as yours. An arrangement of a pair of sofas with a low table in between, as in the room pictured furnished by Oka, can turn the centre of the space into the focus, while a desk at one end and a dining table and chairs at the other will provide areas of activity throughout the room. An alternative strategy you might consider is to position a console table, sideboard or writing desk against one long side wall in lieu of a fireplace, hang pictures or a framed mirror above it and arrange favourite objects on top of it, creating a strong decorative focus for the room.
I am looking for a three-seat low-armed sofa, but I want a design with three (not two) seat cushions. Can you help?
The Ektorp three-seat sofa, £269, from Ikea has three seat cushions but a different style of arms from the sofas in your pictures. For that arm style, try the Lady May sofa, from £1,588, at Sofa Workshop. One of your pictures shows the Signature standard arm sofa (in Basket Weave linen in Paprika, pictured), from £4,350 plus 17m fabric, from George Smith. Also look at the Winchester standard arm sofa, £4,080 plus 16m fabric, from Sean Cooper, and the Brook, from £4,643 plus 18m fabric, from The Odd Chair Company.
Is the glass coffee table shown on the cover of H&G February 2010 still available?
That particular table is no longer produced but the Rectangular Outline coffee table from Richard Taylor Designs is similar. It comes in standard and bespoke sizes and the H46 x W120 x D80cm version with a lower glass shelf and metal frame costs £1,178. The Classic glass coffee table (pictured) from Glass Domain also appears similar but is made of UV-bonded glass. The H28 x W120 x D60cm version costs £672.
The dining room in our house is partly panelled and features a large stone fireplace. Can you advise on a dining table to suit the room?
In an oak-panelled room the table should also be oak unless you choose a modern design in a different material. A refectory table is a classic style that dates back to the period of your house. I & JL Brown makes good copies and its website shows many styles. Its Refectory HT101A (pictured) costs £3,250 for a table 183cm long; the Pemberley HT300, L249cm, is £5,995. Tables can be made in any size and stained to match your panelling. If you prefer antique models, try I & JL Brown, Antique Tables & Country Furniture, or Alexander Paul Antiques.
I keep seeing a chair in different magazines, including on the cover of your March 2012 flooring supplement. It’s metal and comes in bright colours that would look perfect in my new kitchen. Can you tell me more about it?
The Shoreditch Industrial Iron chair comes in Yellow, Blue and White at £125, and in a Nickel finish at £145. There are also bar stool versions, from £150. All are available at Alexander & Pearl.
Can you suggest a large sideboard to blend in with the vintage brown furniture in our living room? We weren’t very keen on mahogany ones seen at auction.
Look for a sideboard that makes reference to antique styles. Try the Painswick, with its double bow, £1,530; the Nicola (pictured), which has klismos legs; or the Silver Banded, featuring elongated diamonds of stainless-steel inlay in the doors, both from £2,950. All come in a choice of wood finishes from JVB. You’ll find sideboards with traditional elements at Willis & Gambier, including the Versailles Wide, £1,169, and the Montpellier Wide, £1,679. Also look at the Hadley and the Burlington, £1,790 each, from India Jane.
Does any company supply a dressing shaped at the back so that it will sit comfortably within the curve of my bay window?
If you like Swedish-style painted furniture, then the Elysian oval dressing table (pictured) will fit neatly into your curved bay and costs £2,200 from Leporello. This company offers a bespoke service so you could also ask for a quote to adapt its Karelian half moon table, £882, into a dressing table with the addition of a drawer to the straight side. For a contemporary look, try the sleek Wave dressing table with a coloured layer on the underside of its toughened glass top, a wooden drawer and stainless steel legs. It can be fixed to a curved wall or stand alone and costs £1,200 from Greenhill Design. Also consider kidney-shaped dressing tables for a curved bay window. The choice of fabric and style of top cover and skirt can reflect the ambience of the room. You can find these at Cover Up Designs of Kingsclere or The Dormy House.
We’re looking for a pair of roomy armchairs. Is there a style that provides generous space for one person but could accommodate two when needed?
The width of the seat is the critical measurement – look for a minimum of 80cm. For a one-stop browse of wide chairs in John Lewis’s Snuggler collection, visit John Lewis, where you can view several styles, including Barbican, from £899; Nick Munro, from £1,300; Options, from £999, and Bailey (pictured), from £650. All have a seat width of 91-115cm. Other choices include the Sherborne sofa with a 110cm-wide seat, £1,850 at Wesley-Barrell, and the Ellipse armchair with an 84cm-wide seat, from £1,245 at Content by Conran.
We’d like to fit a gas fire unit into our original 1930s tiled fireplace but no company seems to supply one that will fit the space.
Malcolm Sutherland at 20th Century Fires, sells reclaimed fireplaces from this period. One example is the Keaton Art Deco marble surround (pictured), around £2,800. Based on the photograph you sent, he thinks the Multiglow Classic II insert, £185, would be suitable, as the front can be altered to fit most 1930s fireplaces. To confirm, send him a cardboard template of the cavity the unit will occupy. This gas fire has a relatively low 2kW heat output, so is intended as a decorative feature. It will also require a set of bars and a hood. These must be installed by a gas fitter registered with the Gas Safe Register.
A green bar stool with a woven rattan top was featured on page 217 of your May issue. I was thrilled to see it as it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. Do you know where I can buy it?
It’s the Bistro bar stool from Lloyd Loom of Spalding. It comes in 18 colours, including three shades of green, and the seat is made from loom, which is paper-wrapped wire. The low stool, 46cm tall, costs £220, and the high stool, 71cm tall (pictured), £249. There’s also the Newmarket high stool with a single-bar back at £278.
I have several pieces of furniture with canework sides that need to be repaired or replaced. Who undertakes work like this?
Joan Gilbert in Derby can weave new cane panels for your furniture and her work is of the highest quality. The price for reworking a new panel starts at £100. The British Antique Furniture Restorers’ Association has a register that includes restorers of canework. It’s also worth asking your local antiques dealers and furniture restorers; one of them may know of canework specialists who do not appear on a general listing.
Can you help me locate exotic furniture, such as faux leopard chairs, dramatic dining chairs and over-sized sofas?
A sinuous zebra chaise longue, £394, from Osborne & Brown, would mix well with the baroque pieces at House Couturier. Its furniture includes a modular sofa, from £2,300, and dining chairs that are hand-stitched in velvet. Also look at upholstery by Aiveen Daly. Inspired by couture tailoring, her chaises and ottomans are swathed in gleaming silks and satins. For lamps and window treatments to complement the look, Ruby & Pearl uses similarly glamorous elements.
I am looking for typical Victorian-style balloon-back chairs. They should not be as large as wing chairs, but must have high backs for my husband to have a comfortable nap. Can you help?
For comfortable snoozing, you need a chair with a back height of around 100cm and here are two that might suit you. The Grandfather chair at Leather Chairs of Bath is a popular option. It is 101.5cm high, 71cm wide and 63.5cm deep and can be covered with your choice of fabric – not necessarily leather despite the shop’s name. It costs £795 plus 4m of fabric. If you would consider a refurbished antique chair, The Odd Chair Company, features a constantly changing selection of restored period chairs, including Victorian balloon-backs, which can be upholstered in any suitable fabric. Some of these chairs have a back height of around 107cm and cost from about £2,700, plus fabric.
Where can I find glass room dividers that run on tracks in the ceiling or the floor?
There are three companies you can try. Go Glass supplies top-hung interior sliding doors
in frameless, clear, tinted or etched glass. Preedy Glass uses its Integra system for domestic installations. Its sliding glass doors run on a top-fixed aluminium track. Space Slide makes Orion sliding doors in clear, obscured or mirrored glass set in anodised aluminium frames that run on top and bottom tracks.
I have a set of antique dining chairs with their original Moroccan leather seats. Despite regular applications of leather cream, the leather is crazed and cracking. Who can restore them?
Traditional leather like this deteriorates in rooms that are too hot or too dry, and many of today’s centrally heated rooms are both. Generally speaking, the best treatment for old leather, which has had none of the surface finishes that are applied to a lot of leather furniture sold today, is to leave well alone. Leather has very short fibres, and repeated applications of creams and waxes can cause the fibres to slip apart; rather than making the leather more flexible, the treatments actually increase its tendency to split. The Leather Conservation Centre specialises in conserving and restoring antique leather. As your chairs seem to have seats that lift out, you could send one to the centre – ideally the seat in worst condition. It will then be inspected and a report sent to you, indicating what can or cannot be done to improve it, along with a price quotation.
I have a set of modern dining chairs with woven cane seats. The cane is breaking on two of them, but isn’t traditionally woven as there are no holes in the wood surround. Can they still be repaired?
Your chairs are in pre-woven cane, also known as French cane or rattan webbing, and you should be able to repair them yourself. French cane comes in six widths, from 40cm up to 90cm, and your chairs are likely to need the 45cm width, £3.95 per linear 30cm. You’ll also need round-centre cane, 80p per m, to cover the edges. All of these are available from a large range by mail order at The Cane Store. Soak the cane for about 40 minutes in hot water. Lay the cane on the chair and knock it into the groove that goes round the perimeter of the seat, then fill the groove with white PVA wood glue and knock the round-centre cane into the groove on top. Trim any excess cane. The cane will dry taut.
I’m looking for an oak table, which opens to 225cm or more. Which one would fit the bill?
Ardennes by Christian Harold at Link International, have a similar oak table. Available in two sizes, the larger one, 75 x 180cm, around £895, extends to 226cm and its leaf lifts up in the centre. A similar contemporary French oak table is the Franklin rectangular table from New Heights, with one or two extension leaves stored in a drawer at one end. The larger size, 85 x 190cm, £1,195, extends to 290cm. Oak Furniture Solutions has a Soldana Oak Dining Table, made from 100% Solid American Oak, extending to 230cm, for £753.89.
I am looking for a modern desk for my large kitchen-dining room. I need it for writing and storing papers, but don’t want a pull-out computer keyboard facility. Can you help?
The Conran Shop has several. You might like the Chrysler in linoleum-topped, beech wood with galvanised steel, which costs £3,595. Heal’s has a tradition of offering furniture of classic simplicity, such as its six-drawer Library writing desk in solid and veneered oak or cherry, at £1,895. Mufti’s simple Shikari pedestal desk in reclaimed Burmese teak costs £1,500. Finally, Just Desks, 020 7723 7976, stocks restored period desks but quite often it will make contemporary versions that incorporate any features clients require.
I have a rather battered rattan chest of drawers, which would be brilliant as an extra serving surface in the dining room, especially at Christmas. If I gilded it, would the texture present a problem?
Here are two metallic paints for furniture. Ardenbrite interior metallic paints come in Light Gold, Antique Gold, Copper, Old Penny Bronze, Silver and Pewter, £13.38 for 250ml and £24.48 for 500ml. You will need to prime the chest before painting, using Blackfriar Problem Solving Primer, £10.13 for 500ml. To improve heat and stain resistance, protect the top with Blackfriar Duratough Clear Varnish, £7.59 for 500ml. For all these products contact Tor Coatings. The Swedish company Beckers has introduced water-based Metall, £16.99 for 500ml, in 41 metallic colours, including golds. Use it with Beckers Grepp primer, £12.98 for 500ml, which can be tinted to match the gold and put in an aerosol. Protect the top of the chest with Decor Klarlack varnish, £11.99 for 500ml. When painting rattan, use a 1.5in brush and load it sparingly in order not to clog the weave.
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