I find it impossible to drop into Robert Kime’s Bloomsbury shop without finding something fantastic. Kime came to wider public attention as Prince Charles’s chosen decorator, both for Highgrove and Clarence House, and opened his shop in Bloomsbury a year ago, so quietly that even devotees of his particular blend of gracious living are only just waking up to the fact now. The furniture, rugs, lamps and curiosities that fill this 17th-century house are united by only one thing: Robert liked them enough to buy them, so the shop is as much an expression of Kime as his home would be. The shop is laid out like a home too, a series of carefully curated room sets with no hint of fussiness or pretension. While these premises are devoted mainly to antiques, the basement also houses samples from all the textile ranges.
Among my recent temptations have been a 19th-century cut-glass converted oil lamp with beautiful antique silk shade for £2,230, and Moonset, an atmospheric watercolour over pen-and-ink by Dorothy Coke for £,2850 (c1945). I am also currently in love with a 16th-century Spanish heraldic tapestry for £12,500 – glorious, but it needs a bigger space than I can offer it.
However, my most beloved Kime buy to date is a complete set of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past – all 12 volumes in the 1941 Chatto & Windus edition, with covers designed by Enid Marx, which cost £165. Prince Charles may be taken to task by the architectural community, but you have to hand it to him when it comes to choosing a decorator.