We’ve loved watching Dick and Angel Strawbridge restore and renovate their 19th-century chateau in the Pays de la Loire region of France on Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau. And many of us have been inspired by the vintage and antiques-filled look that Angel has created in their family home. Here we chat to the designer and entrepreneur about her most prized possessions, decorating triumphs and passion for all things vintage…
What was the first piece of furniture that you ever bought, and what was your most recent purchase?
‘The first piece of furniture I ever bought was a brown Chesterfield sofa for £60 from a car boot sale in Essex. And my most recent purchase was a lorry-load of double-glazed windows for the old coach house that we are converting into a larger home for my parents.’
What is the oldest thing in your home?
‘The oldest thing in my home is actually the walls. The stones are from the original 12th-century castle, which stood on the site of the chateau. Although, we did recently find a fossil in the attic that pre-dates the dinosaurs!’
What’s your favourite period of design?
‘My favourite period of design is the art deco era, especially the architecture and interior design. I just love the symmetry, geometric elegance and beautiful, vibrant colours.
What would you like to buy next for the chateau?
‘At the top of my interiors wishlist is a miniature grand piano for the salon and a taxidermy polar bear (fake, of course).’
You might also enjoy:
- We chat to Dick and Angel Strawbridge about how they’re spending lockdown in the chateau
- How to host a vintage-inspired Mother’s Day tea
- How to create floral displays with vintage containers
- The UK’s best antiques and vintage shops
- Create a Regency look inspired by Bridgerton
What has been your ultimate decorating disaster and decorating triumph?
‘My most notable decorating disaster is the colour that I painted the salon – I mixed it myself and it looked lilac. It was two days before my wedding and I was in such a rush that I just thought ‘That’ll do!’ It really didn’t work. My ultimate decorating triumph is the wallpaper museum that I created in the honeymoon suite tower. When we first moved into the chateau, I discovered reams of old wallpaper in the attic. I couldn’t bear to throw it away, so I cut the wallpaper into diamonds and made a bespoke design around the inside of the tower.’
Where’s your favourite place to shop for antiques and vintage?
‘My favourite shopping spot to visit is Spitalfields Antiques Market, but nowadays we often go to a charity shop called Emmaus here in France.’
What antique and vintage pieces are you collecting at the moment?
‘I continue to buy lots of old books. My husband [the television presenter and engineer, Dick Strawbridge] and I still refer to a first edition of Mrs Beeton. I’m also currently collecting anything that is stylish, old and useful. My biggest collection is vintage china, but I also have lots of taxidermy, vintage fabrics and royal memorabilia.’
Is there an artistic skill that would help with your renovations at the chateau?
‘The artistic skill that I wish I had is the ability to draw – it would save me a fortune! You can see illustrations throughout the chateau and on the vintage van that we use as a mobile bar.’
What’s next on your renovation list?
‘My next renovation plan is finishing of our new glamping project. We’ve erected a geo-dome on a floating pontoon on our moat that visitors can sleep in. It’s been really popular already!’
Follow Angel and Dick on their adventures in France in Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau and Escape to the Chateau DIY, available on All 4.