Antique dealer Christopher Howe evokes a classic English drawing room.
From the beginning, more than 30 years ago, I have always said we wouldn’t make a piece of furniture unless we could make it as well as the original,’ says antique dealer and furniture maker Christopher Howe. The strategy works – the paw-foot benches he made for the National Gallery remain in place decades later.
Next week, Christie’s will auction selected Howe London pieces as part of a major interiors sale. To prepare, Christopher approached his friends, John Evetts, mastermind of furnishings at the Landmark Trust, and Annie Dowty, with a view to using their Queen Anne home in Gloucestershire as a photography set. He explains: ‘I wanted to re-create some of that atmosphere by decorating a room with my furniture in the way that I imagine these pieces might have been used in the past.’
Key to the success of the scheme are distinct areas: one with a sofa and armchairs for relaxing in front of the fire and the second with a table by the windows to enjoy maximum natural light for reading or having breakfast. ‘As a child, I remember my mother had a table in the drawing room where she could cut up photographs for her album, left set up for that purpose,’ says Christopher.
Shades of green and layers of inviting texture unite the scheme, but there is no slavish conformity to an historical period or country of origin – quite the opposite, in fact: English floral chintz is juxtaposed with a Swedish kelim from the 1940s, Chinese pots sit on a Regency chest of drawers, flowers spill from a handpainted Moroccan vase close to a Buchranium mounted mirror made by Howe in George III style.
But how to avoid a mish-mash? ‘One thing I’ve learned over the years is that, when you mix things together, each piece has to have integrity – a certain quality that stands up for itself.’
The Interiors sale will take place at Christie’s on January 31 (020–7839 9060; www.christies.com)
Howe London (020–7730 7987; www.howelondon.com)