HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTERESTED IN VINTAGE?
My mum and aunty used to run the church jumble sales where we lived in North Wales and I remember sitting on black bin bags watching with great excitement to see if they found a fur coat or a handbag with extraordinary jewellery inside. Later on, I helped out with the bric-a-brac and one day, when I was about nine, I had a stall that took more money than anyone else in the hall!
‘There are lots of markets I like to mooch around in - Braderie de Lille, Tongeren in Belgium, the big flea market in Bath and Ardingly Antiques & CollectorsFair.’
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT FINDING INTERESTING PIECES?
It’s like a hunt – why spend £18k on a sideboard when you can find one for £800? I look for things that make me smile. I love the one-off rather than the uniform – when things are replicated and reproduced, they lose their fascination and beauty for me.
HOW DOES VINTAGE WORK IN YOUR OWN HOME?
I like mixing vintage and contemporary in a way that’s bold and edgy rather than frilly and girlie. When someone walks into the room, I want it to look both inviting and intriguing, but also very welcoming. For example, in the kitchen, I’ve teamed a Fifties Italian lacquered sideboard with modern pots. Or I might upholster an old French boudoir chair with a clean geometric print or paint its legs a different colour. I’ve just tiled a bathroom with Made a Mano’s white and gold star tiles, which look modern, but luxe. These all make instant talking points ina contemporary/classic interior.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE VINTAGE FEELS MODERN RATHER THAN JUNK SHOP?
Always mix vintage with clean lines – it allows a curvy, sculptural vintage piece to take on a life of its own if the rest of the space feels restful. I also work in modern accessories with a mid-century feel, such as a sleek Fifties-style sofa or a floor light from Roche Bobois. As a backdrop, I like colour on walls rather than white.I have Farrow & Ball’s dusky Pink Ground in my bedroom and dark, chalky Railings in the living room, which really makes the paintings stand out. I always team something provocative next to something clean.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR WHEN HUNTING FOR VINTAGE?
Don’t buy just for the sake of it – you’ll end up purchasing things you don’t have an affinity with. Pick up items you can happily live with – they need to mean something to you. The key is in the mix – you can have four or five pieces that stand out, but don’t clutter a space. If there’s too much in a room, it becomes ugly and confusing. If you’re starting a collection – whether it’s paintings or vases – do it with patience! Take it slowly, collect as you go along and allow it to take on a life of its own.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I love travelling – I never go anywhere without a suitcase big enough to bring back stuff! I take lots of pictures too, which I look back on for ideas later – it mightbe a café door painted in aninteresting colour or the way things are displayed in a shop. When I have time, I often head to Foyles in London early in the morning, grab a coffee and scour the amazing interiors books.
HOW DO YOU BRING OLD PIECES BACK TO LIFE?
I’ll paint anything that doesn’t move – if I’ve paid £5 for a simple bentwood chair, I’m not spending two days stripping it back. I might just paint a mad stripe or customise the base with fringing and bobbles around it. I never buy anything that’s falling apart, though – I don’t have time to fix it and I can’t stand anything that’s uncomfortable. I like something you can have a cuddle on.
WHAT ABOUT LIGHTING?
Lighting is so important – I try to have it at every level, from table and floor to wall and ceiling. And it has to be generous – oversized and maybe a bit tongue-in-cheek.I like lights that add drama and make a statement.
FINALLY, CAN YOU SUGGEST ANY QUIRKY TOUCHES?
I pick up lots of old portraits of people I don’t know – I like how they make you look twice. I often group paintings of flowers and portraits together, or hang a painting either quite low over a coffee table, above a picture rail or below the dado. It’s unexpected and a little mad, but it looks great!
To see more of Marianne’s work, visit mariannecotterill.com