House Tour : Polly's Vintage Treasure Trove
This week we are visiting the fabulous treasure trove belonging to Polly of Polly Jane Vintage. Polly lives in Bristol with her husband and two children and runs her vintage business from her home. As we are also based in Bristol, I had the pleasure of actually conducting this house tour myself ... and what a pleasure it was! I spent the afternoon with Polly and she showed me her extensive eclectic collections and vintage furniture ... while I asked her some pertinent questions ...
How long have you been collecting vintage?
I’ve been rooting through charity shops and jumble sales and rescuing things from the streets for years but I think I started collecting more seriously about fifteen years ago. My collection has grown considerably since I started my business though as I’m out looking a lot more and some of the things I buy to sell I end up keeping.
Where does your love of vintage come from?
I’m not sure really, maybe nostalgia from growing up in the 70’s and the things my grandparents had in their homes. The 1950’s kitchen cupboards, chairs and tables I love because they remind me of my grannies kitchens, along with crockery from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I remember my grandma giving me poached egg on toast on a Biltons Celtic Rose plate, cups of tea in Midwinter Spanish Garden cup and saucer with biscuits from a Baret Ware biscuit tin all served up on a Worcesterware tray.
My dad’s an antique dealer and him and my step mum have always had beautiful homes filled with interesting old things, and my mum and step dad have a shop selling pottery and art. I think it’s quite normal to me to have a home filled with decorative objects, art and colour.
How would you describe your own vintage style?
Not sure if I have a vintage style, maybe eclectic is the best word as I have such a mixture of things from Victorian through to 1970’s. I’m quite into the whole 70’s boho thing – macrame, bamboo, lots of plants (I have over 50 house plants – trying to achieve an indoor jungle / 70’s hippy / mid-century look I guess!)
What is your favourite era / maker?
That’s a tricky one. It used to be 50’s but I tend to be buying a lot more 60’s and 70’s these days. I love the designs of Kathy Winkle, Jessie Tait and John Clappison and the look of flower power, West German pottery and mid-century teak furniture. I love mid-century modern design but also the colours and prints of the 1970’s.
When did you start Polly Jane Vintage .... and what was the impetus to do so?
I started Polly Jane Vintage last year, when my little boy started nursery. Prior to that I’d been selling bits from my collection in order to buy other things I wanted and I’d been doing up found pieces of furniture but was buying more then I had space for so it kind of evolved from there. I restored and recovered a 60’s stool as a gift for my sister and she said ‘You could totally sell these!’ so I started rescuing old stools to refurbish. I’ve always been into textiles and sewing, I used to make bags, purses and children’s cushions then started sewing cushion covers from the vintage fabric that I had collected and decided to focus on that as they proved to be popular. I love sourcing amazing pieces of fabric from the 60’s and 70’s and turning them into something that can make a real statement in a room. It’s a very easy and affordable way for someone to get that retro look. I make myself one cushion from every piece of fabric I buy so I get to enjoy them too!
You are obviously continuously sourcing items, how do you choose what to keep in your own home? Do you have any criteria based on style/era/colour for your own home? Or is it simply a gut reaction?
I think it is mostly a gut reaction but I have an ever-changing wish list in the back of my mind. Sometimes I’ll buy something to sell, get it home and realise I really like it and it works well in the house so I end up with something I hadn’t considered before. So the randomness of what I find dictates what the house looks like more than me planning a look.
What was your best find?
It’s hard to pick one best find but I have a list:
My G Plan fresco sideboard which I paid £20 for about 15 years ago;
My West German floor lamp;
A large 1970’s embroidered owl picture that I found recently;
The 50’s kitchen cupboards that I restored myself – one cost me £3, the other cost me a beer!;
A wooden bambi picture which I rescued from a junk shop years ago. The frame had come apart and it was covered in paint speckles but it cleaned up beautifully and I think it is quite a rare find.
Have you ever regretted selling something?
I sold a beautiful blue Axminster Rya rug fairly recently which I really wish I’d kept. I have to let go of some things though, even if I love them, as my house is so full. Also, I think if I’d kept that rug it would’ve ended up being ruined by kids or cats! It’s gone to a better place.
My daughter was quite upset when I sold a 1970’s Michael R. Curzon ‘Captive Garden’, a very pretty glass dome with real flowers and butterflies inside. The trouble is I don’t have enough storage space so some of my stock ends up on shelves around the house and we get attached to it and feel sad when it goes. The nice thing though is that we get to enjoy these treasures for a while before passing them on to their new homes.
Do you have a favourite piece in your home?
I have lots of favourites but the one that always makes me smile is my huge original 1960’s butterfly painting. I feel really lucky to own something so unique. It used to belong to my step mum and I had always admired it and she gave it to me as a house warming gift. It’s probably the best present I’ve ever been given other than my trusty vintage Frister & Rossman sewing machine which I use to make my cushion covers and was also from her. I treasure my orange flower power West German lamp which my husband bought for me years ago; I love it and have never seen another like it.
Is there a specific item that you would love to find but has so far eluded you?
String art! I’d love to find a really cool mid-century string art picture one day; I never come across them. I’d also really like to find something by Cathrineholm. I love the colours of the Lotus range and it’s such an iconic design.