Antiques promise individuality, which may be the reason why they are enjoying a renaissance in the world of interior design – after a decade or so of modernist, minimalist trends and the eponymous Ikea flatpack, there’s something refreshing about the one-of-a-kind discovery offered by an antique.
The good news is that London is a dream destination for antique lovers, such is the depth and variety of the city’s offering. Our selection of the best dealers focusses on those that have earned their stripes: all have been trading for more than 20 years – and some considerably longer. They share a commitment to quality and craftsmanship, revealing a deep understanding of how antiques can be used to create interiors, well-suited to modern living, that are as imaginative as they are unique.
Whether you are looking for a stand-out find to serve as the focal point of your room, an investment piece by a mid-century designer, or a dining table to seat a dozen, these are the capital’s hot spots for the discerning antiques buyer.
Christopher Howe’s eye for unusual finds and beautiful craftsmanship has earned him a loyal following and trusted reputation. He admits to being obsessed by the way things are made, so 18th and 19th century furniture, lighting and mirrors are sold alongside Made by Howe hand crafted pieces in an inspiring – and unstuffy – mix of old and new.
There are two stores, both at the heart of the small-but-perfectly-formed Pimlico Road design district, which also includes fine antique fireplace and lighting dealer Jamb, 20th century specialist Gallery 25, and the Aladdin’s Cave of antique lighting and decorative objects that is Christopher Butterworth.
Recently moved from a Shoreditch church to a Regency coach house in Willesden Green, this fifty-year-old firm has built one of the world’s finest (and grandest) collections of antique chimneypieces, plus mirrors, chandeliers and decorative antiques. Don’t be surprised to find a rare Georgian marble fireplace by the architect Charles Cameron jostling for space with an ornate Art Nouveau design in walnut.
[Note to Ed: the new site at Willesden Green opens 15 October 19]
For an excellent range of antique chandeliers, lanterns and wall lights, two close-together Denton Antiques’ stores at 156 and 166 Kensington Church Street are well worth a visit. Expect top quality English and French lights, dating from 18th, 19th and early 20th century, and deep knowledge: the fourth generation of the family run the business today.
When Brunswick House was built on the banks of the Thames in 1758, its setting was probably somewhat more pastoral than today – at the convergence of six major roads amidst the building site that will shortly become the capital’s Embassy Quarter. But, take heart, for a treasure trove of architectural antiques, salvage and curiosities awaits inside. Particularly well known for reclaimed flooring and doors, you’ll also discover furniture, garden ornament, lighting and mirrors.
A King’s Road stalwart since 1963, this family-owned and run store is now a higgledy-piggledy collection of brim-full rooms spread across four adjoining shops. There’s an outstanding offer of decorative antiques, particularly Japanese screens, vintage French textiles, antique dhurries, sculpture, glassware and objets d’art, imaginatively displayed amongst furniture, mirrors and lighting from different periods.
Specialising in non-European antique textiles and artefacts from all over the world, this is the place to stumble across a 19th century ikat from Uzbekistan, an early example of Japanese boro or a beautifully stitched kantha quilt from West Bengal. Also tribal art, contemporary decorative pieces, carpets and cushions, the colourful and original selection still overseen by Joss Graham, who has run this central London store since 1980.
This architectural salvage company is powered by creative couple Adam Hills and Maria Speake. Their talent for spotting well-made vintage furniture and uncovering unique finds can be enjoyed at the Harrow shop, where you might find museum display cabinets next to a neo-classical pulpit or a mid-century French tapestry.