Furnishing your home
9 March 2016
We dropped in at Digger & Mojo, a vintage furniture emporium in Pewsey, to talk to Clarissa Reilly about how it’s all been going since they opened in November 2014.
So how is it going?
‘It’s great – We’ve got people coming to see us from Wiltshire and beyond. Sometimes people come down from London and combine it with lunch at one of our lovely local country pubs - The Red Lion, East Chisenbury or The Three Tuns, Great Bedwyn. Next week we’ve got a client from the United States coming by. Some people are moving to the area and looking for furniture for their new property. Others are just looking for unique items to complete a room.
We’re especially chuffed this week as we’re quoted in an article in April’s Homes & Antiques. It’s all about Kate Watson-Smyth and her brand new book Shades of Grey which (surprise!) is about using shades of grey in the home. I’m in the article talking about how to make antiques work in a contemporary space & the fact they are offset especially well with grey. Beige is out and grey is in!
We’re also taking our stock beyond our showroom in Pewsey in April and have a pop-up at the Tedworth Hunt point to point at Barbary Castle. We’re really looking forward to that as it’s a great opportunity to meet new people.’
What inspired you to set-up Digger & Mojo?
‘We’ve travelled a lot in our married life – living in Papua New Guinea and Africa and both places have provided a lot of inspiration for us with some of the tribal/fertility artefacts we stock. Yosh has always had a passion for mending and being really good with his hands. I have a background in interior design so when we moved to Wiltshire we realised this was something we could do together and build on both our passions. We love building relationships with locals and finding local custom, but selling nationally online is obviously good for us too.
We live in such a throwaway society and we love the fact that antiques are green. Why throw it away when you can pass it on and it can be just as useful to the next owner as to those who have gone before? It saddens us when beautiful pieces of furniture go to the dump because they have nowhere else to go. If we can take them we will, and can transform them into a beautiful piece of furniture.’
So if someone was going to visit you what would they find?
'Our showroom has hundreds more pieces than are on our website. There’s aren’t enough hours in the day to photo and upload all pieces and many fly out the door before we’ve had a chance.
We’re into antiques & painted furniture and just anything that’s generally attractive & decorative. We have all sizes of tables, chairs, chest of drawers, desks, sideboards & wardrobes. We also have some lovely and unique lamps, vases, bowls and quirky items. We do stock some retro pieces are more focused on restoring older pieces some of which we make more contemporary and modern using traditional methods. As well as selling stock we’ve sourced, we can update or re-upholster people’s existing items. We have lots of fabrics in stock.
We always have an antique of the week. So one table we have dates from the time of Charles II – it’s made in Walnut with rope twist legs but you can see where the stretcher has been flattened by 350 years of boots!
We’ve had silhouettes in stock – some we’ve shown to the kids who visit, as they were done by the same man who designed the costumes for Star Wars. We’ve got some lovely botanical prints which can look fabulous in a home when hung correctly.
We also have antiquarian and vintage books both for readers and those who just want something decorative. They look great in a shelf space in the home.
If someone isn’t sure of the style and mood they want to create I always recommend they go to the library, read all the home & interior magazines and then come back when they’ve formed a firmer view. Then when they return it will be more obvious which items are right for them.
For clients that don’t find what they want we keep a Hunting book of items they’re seeking, together with measurements, approximate budget and their contact details. We’ll track down whatever they’re looking for.'
How do you source antiques?
'I travel to fairs and buy from auctions all over the country I find social media a great way of meeting new dealers and twitter has been especially effective.
As we’ve become more well-known we’ve started to get a lot of people coming directly to us with furniture from their private homes.
Beautiful antique pieces just get a little tlc and a wax to bring out the grain of their lovely wood, but some items arrive as a lump of brown. However, we paint it in neutral colours and suddenly voilà – there stands a completely different piece.'
What would be your advice when furnishing a home?
'These days styles are so eclectic but it’s important to get to know your home first before rushing into anything. Really stylish homes have some antiques positioned for great effect, a pop of bright colour, neutral walls with some funky wallpaper, sculptural shapes and some modern, industrial piece thrown in.
Lighting is one of the most important things to consider – we’re about to start making lamp bases out of decanters which should be popular.'
Any new plans afoot?
'We’re looking at starting a website for all antique dealers. It’ll cater for people who are looking for something specific or already have a piece and want to know more about it. So watch this space.
We’re also restoring Prince of Wales Investiture Chairs : The Red Chairs – a design icon of the 20th century. We repair them and replace the old degraded (and illegal) foam. Then we clean and replace the original upholstery or we replace them with seats made in the original fabric, which it’s taken me 3 years of research to source. These chairs are going up in value and a great addition to any home.
We love welcoming people to our showroom to browse as well as buy and are keen to help so please pop in..'