When it comes to furniture, it is midcentury pieces that I covet the most. And in recent years the majority of these have been found at The Peanut Vendor, an eclectic vintage furniture business first opened in 2008 by former fashion and music PRs Becky Nolan and Barney Read in Newington Green, north London. I have them to thank for the pendant lights hanging over my kitchen table, and the gilt wheatsheaf table lamp providing much-needed detail and illumination in my dark, “Squid Ink”-painted living room.
“We had so much furniture it was hard to even get into the shop,” says Nolan, explaining why last year they moved to a quadruple-the-size space in east London, which has become one of my regular stop-offs. Whereas most sales were previously conducted online and the actual store was open infrequently – sometimes on a Saturday, but not always – the new light-filled boutique is happily open every day of the week, with the addition of a coffee shop.
When I visit on a wet and windy Friday afternoon, the pair have just taken delivery of pieces from Sweden and Denmark, together with “finds” from a recent trip to a market in Amiens, and the shop is chock-full of furniture – including a Danish teak chest of drawers (£495), two white spindle-backed lounge chairs (£385 each, second picture) and a rare Yngve Ekström Kurva chair (£875, first picture) from 1953, with its original upholstery. I admire an 80cm-long marble coffee table (£210) with brass scroll legs. “It’s already sold, I’m afraid,” says Nolan, explaining that Friday is when the newsletter is sent to existing customers, resulting in eye-catching items such as this being snapped up fast.
As well as the flat whites and locally sourced Victoria Yum cakes, there are Welsh wool throws (£145), London-made ceramics by Tilly Hemmingway (coffee cups from £20), potted succulents and oversized vintage concrete planters, including an enviable example on a steel hairpin stand (£255). But what about the lighting? “It’s just this week that we don’t have any,” says Nolan reassuringly. “But usually, as soon as we get it, it just goes.” For me, that’s reason enough to return.