Just as every wardrobe needs a few showstoppers, so most houses are given life by a few eye-catching design pieces that have personality, individuality and, preferably, are one of a kind. 1stdibs has long been a great source of alluring vintage finds, but now there are others worth singling out for those in search of something spectacular for hearth and home.
Launched late last year is Pret-A-Meubler, the brainchild of Dasha Slavinskaya who, while trying to make her own homes arresting and individual, discovered she loved tracking down special antiques, interesting contemporary furniture and pieces of art. She is a great believer in mixing things up – the decorative equivalent of teaming a Zara skirt with a designer handbag – and her website reflects her eclectic tastes. Currently available are Rue Monsieur Paris’s extraordinarily beautiful (though perhaps not wildly comfortable) sculptured wooden Altoum sofa (£6,980, second picture) and striking art deco-influenced dining chairs (£1,960 each) with black and white marble marquetry on the back and a seat upholstered in a Lelievre velvet, a set of four beautiful vintage chairs (£1,120) in curved steel and pale grey velvet and a pair of fabulous pale pink Rougier table lamps (£600). It’s as varied and interesting a collection as one could hope to find.
Simon Stewart opened his shop-cum-showroom Charles Burnand (named after his grandfather) in London’s Crawford Street two years ago. He also has eclectic tastes, showing wonderful, characterful pieces, from a pair of 1960s Ico Parisi chairs (£6,500, first picture), given new life by being upholstered in a Dedar fabric, to a 1930s-style walnut drinks cabinet (£9,500) and a made-to-order Sabrina Landini Tiffany lamp (£1,450, fourth picture). But alongside the elusive and rare vintage finds are contemporary pieces, either specially commissioned or tracked down to a fine designer’s studio. At the time of writing there is a Simon Stewart-designed fine Bond drinks cabinet (£9,500) in walnut with a maple interior, Rue Monsieur Paris Venetian mirrors (from £3,250) with a black and white trompe-l’oeil marble surround, and a very stylish art deco-inspired lacquered side table (from £1,680, third picture). The shop also has a collection of smaller, interesting accessories that make great presents: crystal vases (from £165), a nickel tray (£550) and wonderfully solid crystal decanters (from £165).
Finally, vintage lighting with an industrial air can create a striking focal point over a dining table and looks fantastic in lofts and apartments. Skinflint has a great cache: there’s a vintage Czech opaline pendant (£288) and a magnificent c1940 industrial light (£440) in cast iron and flameproof glass by Revo, a British manufacturer of finely engineered lighting, while an enamelled pendant light (£340) rescued from an Eastern Bloc factory is a wonderfully nostalgic piece of design.