House & Garden | Need To Now

The Chelsea Textiles Sale is here again

Don’t be misled by the name – furniture is the big draw here

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The Chelsea Textiles Sale is here again

November 11 2011
Dominic Lutyens

Chelsea Textiles Sale, held annually at Chelsea Old Town Hall for the past 17 years (this year it’s from November 16 to 19), is perhaps underselling itself with its name. After all, it stocks cutely boxy bedside and side tables as well as hand-embroidered fabrics and cushions based on French and English 18th-century textiles (normally sold at the shop Chelsea Textiles in London and New York). Yet it would be foolish to rename itself, given its loyal following of bargain-hunters familiar with its moniker.

Chelsea Textiles used to specialise in bedside tables in a Swedish 18th-century Gustavian style, but has now added new versions of super-fashionable midcentury modern Swedish furniture to its collection. “Ours are adapted to suit today’s living,” says design director Jenny Simpson. “Midcentury bedside tables are usually too low for today’s beds so we often make them bigger and add drawers.”

Prices will be discounted by 40 to 80 per cent. The cost of a dove-grey and wood-veneer sideboard will be slashed from £1,135 to £681; a lichen green bedside table (third picture) from £438 to £219; a duck-egg blue bedside table from £558 to £279; an armchair (first picture) from £1,056 to £528. Similarly good value is a cushion embroidered with flowers and animals in a Jacobean style (second picture; was £219, now £99). Stock is constantly replenished, avoiding the bitter disappointment of discovering that the best things have already vanished on the sale’s first day.

Bargains aside, Chelsea Textiles Sale’s wares cannily straddle a contemporary and trad aesthetic: in chalky greys or lichen greens, the colours of the midcentury pieces recall pastel-toned Swedish Gustavian furniture. “Our subtle palette gives Chelsea Textiles its look and means all the pieces work well together,” says Simpson.