How to create an antiques-filled Christmas

Jim and Chloe Read have filled their home with 1940s finds and created a festive look that feels anything but dated

Imagine a department store that exclusively sold antique and vintage pieces. Where prices were reasonable and the quality was high and everything was laid out in an orderly, contemporary, pleasing way. Just such an emporium is what Jim and Chloe Read dream about creating - that is, if they weren't in the clocks and watches business. 

In 1991 the couple founded Newgate Clocks - the company synonymous with vintage-inspired, often industrial and oversized clocks and, more recently, watches. But, with both of their parents working in the antiques business while they were growing up, Jim and Chloe have a joint affinity with the world of antiques. 

Growing up surrounded by antiques often goes hand in hand with living in a house filled with old pieces as an adult. 'We both remember coming home to discover chests that hadn't been unlocked for decades, filled with treasures inside,' says Jim. 'Chloe's parents were dealers at Alfies Antiques Market, while my dad still has a shop in Oswestry.' Despite this, their first home was cool and contemporary, with white walls and a scant amount of furniture. 'After moving their we both had a hunger to return to a more antique-y feel,' says Jim. And so, in their current home - a typically Georgian building, striking in its exterior symmetry - they fully embrace antiques. 


The kitchen island is made from two 1930s glass shop counters, bought from a local dealer, with mahogany glazed doors and crackled mirror backs. On the wall is a mahogany 1930s haberdashery display cabinet, which Jim fixed a mirror to the back of. Jim also crafted the light fixture himself: 'I couldn't find an original chandelier to to go here so decided to make one. I stripped a broken 1940s light of its original white globes and brass galleries and fixed them to a brass pipe, then hung it all from an original 1920s ceiling rose. It wasn't a dissimilar process to making a clock.' 


The drawers in the living room were originally used in a London bank and date from the 1930s. Displayed on top are 1960s Eastern European educational scientific props from school laboratories, bought from Newark Antiques Fair. 'The barograph was handed down to me by my grandfather who was a radio inventor in MI5,' says Jim. 'He loved and owned all sorts of unusual scientific instruments, and has been a great inspiration in my watch design.' 


Aside from the painting of the family's white bull terrier, painted by Michelle Cox, the surrounding portraits are all by unknown artists and date from the 1800s and 1950s. The lamp is from Spitalfields Market and dates from the 1950s-60s. 'I bought the small globe from an antique fair in Portmeirion that my parents were exhibiting at when I was around eight years old,' says Jim. 


The large world map is a 1970s Dutch educational school map that Jim and Chloe bought at Newark Antiques Fair. The abacus is early 20th-century and the nutcracker crackers are from Talking Tables


The desk in Jim's office is a 1940s oak design bought from Newark Antiques Fair. 'It's beautifully made with locking mechanisms,' says Jim. The scientific/education telephone is from the 1970s and has exposed workings to demonstrate how it functioned. 


Despite its impressive scale, this house is warm and, beyond anything, fun. The haberdashery mirror in Jim and Chloe's bedrom is Victorian. The vintage club chair in the corner was one of their numerous finds at Les Puces de Saint-Ouen on the outskirts of Paris.

The full feature on Jim and Chloe's home was published in Homes & Antiques December 2016 issue. Back issues are still available. To buy a copy, click here.

Words: Katie Hallett
Images: Brent Darby

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