Sophie Warren spends her days sourcing stunning French vintage and antique furniture for her company Vintage French. Her collection spans a wide variety of looks, from rustic farmhouse to mid century chic. We were excited to learn more about why Sophie first decided to travel down the road of dealing vintage furniture and to hear tales of sipping on gin and sodas with her grandparents who also had an eye for beautiful furniture design Read on and enjoy perusing these vintage gems, beautifully styled to fire up the cannons of inspiration!
Hi Sophie! What was your route into dealing vintage furniture and why did you choose it?
Whilst on maternity leave (from my own London based Corporate Design company), I became involved with a property development company buying the furniture and decorative pieces for the interiors of their Alpine Chalet business. The initial brief was to create a contemporary look but as projects came and went (I was pregnant for many years!) I was able to bring in vintage pieces which I felt brought a more individual look to the properties. Once the children were all safely ensconced in school, pursuing a business sourcing these beautiful pieces felt like a very natural progression.
What is it about vintage furniture that sparks your interest?
Vintage furniture is sentimental for me.. a comfortable feeling recalling memories of my childhood years. Without doubt though, it’s the quality and individuality of vintage furniture that I love. The tactile nature of worn wood or leather, the story, the exquisite workmanship and the charm of placing vintage pieces within a modern home all make my heart sing. The well documented benefit of practising sustainable consumerism is also a plus.
Is there a piece with an especially interesting provenance?
We had a series of fabulous sideboards which came from the factory supplying sponges to the cosmetic industry back in the day, including Dior. There was also a Royal Standard from the days when the British royal family would visit glacier fed spa towns around the French Lakes to ‘take the water’.
Have you ever found something and had to keep it for yourself?
Yes, lots! But seems that I have a penchant particularly for beautiful chairs. My first indulgence was because of a childhood memory.. I recall wonderful visits to my grandparents’ home, sitting in their living room overlooking their cherished garden and my grandfather, after having poured everyone a gin and soda, settling into a beautiful French Berger armchair with a sumptuous blue velvet cushion. I never knew where the chair went and wondered for years and years what had happened to it. Just one month into creating Vintage French I stumbled across, quite by chance, a stunning Art Deco Berger armchair. I tried to part with it… I really did, but it seemed like fate that I had found it and now the chair sits by the desk in my office. I could never part with it now! And I also now know where the original one went, thankfully it is safe and sound and still in the family.
What styles of furniture most inspire you?
I have a few wonderful Aladdin’s cave type haunts that are, in equal measure, thrilling and overwhelming to visit… Many things about a design will inspire me! It’s a beautiful line, a clever design, a stunning wood, a practical piece, a creative or witty re-use of a piece.
Does the furniture you sell go through a restoration process?
We try to purchase pieces ready to use. Having said that, we do have some restorers who are exquisite in their craft. If we find a piece that sings to us we will ask them to bring the piece back to life.
How do you approach judging the quality of a piece?
Over time the way I judge a piece has become second nature. Some pieces aren’t necessarily chosen because of the quality of the finish or the beautiful dovetail drawers… sometimes it is about, for instance, years of work that has pitted the counter top and given the piece a real authenticity. Value can also lie in the character or the back story.
What is your own home style?
Our home is a mixture of my husband’s modern clean simple interior aesthetic with a few curated vintage pieces that add character to our contemporary home.
Meet Sophie in 30 seconds…
Best biscuit to dunk in tea? Shortbread!
Biggest difference between France and Britain? Service culture.
Countryside or city living and why? I am a 50/50 Girl and I love the energy of both.
Best way to spend a day off? The phone switched off and spending time with my family… going on an adventure and trying something different.
Life quote that you live by? Take every opportunity and give it 100%… life is too short for regrets.
If you weren’t a vintage dealer, you would be… A full time mum to our three children.
Feeling inspired? To explore the full Vintage French collection, click here.
Title image: hellolovelystudio.com