Jennie Cooper talks to interior stylist and designer Holly Keeling, who shares some tips on sourcing items for your home locally
Describe your business and how you got started.
In 2005 my husband, Phil, and I bought a run-down Georgian farmhouse in Denbury. Over the next two years converting the property became a full-time job, as the house needed a total renovation from top to bottom. Once it was complete, I entered a competition in [ital] Period Living magazine in 2008, and was lucky enough to win the Readers’ Homes Award. From this success I felt confident enough to set up my own interior design business and the rest is history!
I work on a wide range of projects including those in private homes or in large hotels. I style for magazines and companies and have a converted show barn full of wonderful finds for sale, which can help inspire people looking to add something to their homes. It is both an informal shop and a store room and is open three days a week, although it is always advisable to call first. I also hold a large selection of fabric books, from which I can offer a discount.
Tell us about your love of antiques.
My parents have always been passionate about antiques and often as a child I went with them to local auctions and car boot sales. I remember my mother stripping furniture in our kitchen. From a very early age, I was more interested in furniture than toys - it would be fair to say that my mother inspired me! I bought my first cupboard at the age of eleven and it still takes pride of place in my kitchen. I have also always been inspired by other people’s homes.
How can we source items for our home?
We are very lucky here in Devon as there are so many places to find interesting pieces. Its not about how much something costs, but rather visualising how an item will look in your home - often we do houses up on a small budget and knowing what will work and where to get it is half the battle. Have a few favourite pieces in a room rather than anything too cluttered - some great finds can come from skips and reclamation yards. Rather than buying something new, why not restore or re-cover your favourite furniture and sofa to update or refresh the look of a room?
The key is to pick quality, classic items that can be used as a foundation for introducing more exciting pieces. As well as seeking out items from local places, I use online resources such as eBay, and have trade accounts with several interior furniture companies.
What local projects are you working on?
Among other smaller projects, I am helping to style the Cider House Bed and Breakfast at Buckland Abbey near Yelverton and Pynes Manor near Exeter. We are also installing the first stage of design in a very large, hip hotel in Cornwall, and I am helping the luxury self-catering company Unique Home Stays ensure its properties are designed and furnished to its high standards.
Do you hold any special events at the show barn?
We hold a three-day Christmas Fair every December when it’s transformed into an Aladdin’s cave full of wonderful furniture and gifts. This is a fabulous opportunity for an atmospheric festive get-together and has proved very enjoyable and successful. Join our mailing list and we will let you know of the dates for 2014 nearer the time.
“It’s not about how much something costs, but rather visualising how an item will look in your home”
Have a look around the shops and places listed below where Holly recommends searching for quirky, good-value pieces for your interior.
Published 2 March 2014
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