Something old and new in vintage venture

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While most little girls were playing with dolls and pretty pink things, Sophie Longhurst was painting the skirting boards in her bedroom.

Even back then she had an eye for seeing what something had the potential to look like beyond years and layers worth of old paint and dust.

For years, and long before ‘shabby chic’ took off, Sophie of Ruswarp has been bringing back to life battered pieces of furniture.

She said: “I have been doing it since I was a kid.

“Mum says when I was little I was trying to crackle the skirting boards to make them look older.”

And now that passion for ‘vintage’ items and the stories they have to tell is set to become more than just a hobby.

‘My first idea has always been to get something so awful people

Sophie, as Ginger and Flynn, has been painting up old drawers, chairs and tables for her own home and to sell on to friends but now she is set to take it to the next level.

Last month she took on a unit at St Hilda’s Business Centre in Whitby and wants to share her passion and expertise and make vintage finds easily available to people in Whitby.

She said: “When I was moving house the amount of people that came looking around and asked me where I got my furniture from..but I had got it from a car boot sale and done it myself.

“Now I go to antique fairs and sale rooms and travel around a bit rather than just pick up bits in Whitby.

“People will also say a family member has died and they are doing a house clearance and I will give them a price.

“It has been fashionable everywhere else for years and in America but the concept has come up here now .”

Sophie works mainly with classicly English Farrow and Ball paint which adorns the walls of the Admiralty and War Offices.

One trend is to ‘distress’ a piece of furniture by painting it in one of the chalky, matte colours then sanding it down to allow the natural wood to peep through making it look older than it is.

Another popular theme is the coastal look and living by the sea the Farrow and Ball colour palette fits in perfectly.

Sophie adds: “I look at the colours of living by tbe seaside and the chalk finish looks really classic.”

While Sophie has to bear in mind what will sell - “people tend to like things that are painted white and it is all about that” - when it comes to her own preferences anything goes .

She explains: “Some things don’t need to be painted so I just don’t do it but then I have things in here that you wouldn’t have looked twice at if you had seen it before.”

One such piece is a dresser she rescued from the back of a barn in Northallerton.

It was absolutely black from farm muck and whatever else but Sophie saw the detail in the features of the carved wood and brought them out.

Another item getting a new lease of life is a gold and red chaise longue.

Sophie says it was “awful but I thought it would look amazing in someone’s hallway.

“Everything these days is MDF and I don’t know why people pay so much money for it. I looked at some drawers in a high street shop and they were £500. I couldn’t afford to go and spend £500 on some drawers.

“My friend had some old ones and they were solid. I painted them bright orange and put some knobs on and she couldn’t believe they were the same ones.

“I could go to France, buy it, bring it back and not touch it. But, my first idea has always been to get something so awful people wouldn’t touch it and bring it back to life.”

And the red and gold chaise longue is one such piece .

If it doesn’t sell, Sophie is going to use it as part of the vintage wedding package that Ginger and Flynn is also launching.

It is another deep seated passion Sophie has had for years.

But, she has only just found the confidence to do it after being inspired by the reaction she got from people having planned her own wedding to Andy last September.

For people that want something different for their big day Sophie can plan and provide room decorations, vintage cups and saucers, flowers, bunting and even the food after drafting in best friend and make up artistMichelle McHugh, and her brother, renowned chef Alex Perkins of Woodlands Eat at Sandsend.

She added: “I have thought about it before but never did anything about it .

“I got married and thought I might as well give it a go. It gave me more confidence after I had done my own wedding and everybody said how good it was.

“I had planned everything and it was a nightmare. I spent the day washing dishes and grabbing flowers so the idea was to take the load off.

“My first wedding is at Egton and but luckily I know the family which is a big help so I can’t wait to see how it all goes.”