Interiors with personality

Interior designer Emilie Fournet is a huge fan of second hand vintage furniture. Interiors writer Karen Wilson finds out how she’s furnished her North London home on a shoestring budget.

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Everywhere you look in Emilie Fournet's home there are second hand treasures - some from charity shops or found on a street corner; others picked up at French antique markets or inherited from family. 

'It's easy to go to the High Street and buy everything at once, but if it's slowly curated it becomes more about you than following a trend. We live in a disposable culture but older furniture is so well built and stands the test of time whereas flat pack tends to fall apart within three years. The 1940s tallboy in my son's bedroom that's been standing for 80 odd years is proof of that.'

Emilie's home

Far from being po-faced and serious about design, Emilie is happy to mix up styles and break the rules. You'l find mid Century, Art Deco and Art Nouveau pieces sitting happily alongside upcycled items, like her fab cocktail cabinet revamped with House of Hackney wallpaper.

Emilie Fournet's Kitchen Emilie Fournet's Dining Room

In the kitchen is a 1940s kitchen dresser - previously painted bright yellow -which has been stripped and painted in Theresa’s Green by Farrow & Ball with chicken wire replacing a broken pane of glass. There's also an Ercol drop leaf breakfast table and £5 charity shop chairs reupholstered with palm leaf fabric. 'It's easy - all you need is a staple gun,' she smiles.

Emilie Fournet's Bedroom Emilie Fournet's bedroom

Upstairs in the master bedroom, dark blue walls offset her grandmother's Art Nouveau wardrobes and ornate charity shop frames perfectly. 'Vintage furniture works against both light and dark walls - it's so versatile,' she adds.

Emilie Fournet's living room Emilie Fournet's Living Room

But it's the living room that really showcases Emilie's love of all things vintage. 'I found an orange floor lamp for three euros in France, which kick started the whole scheme,' she says. 'And my G-Plan Astro coffee table was a bargain at £60 from a charity shop. I always like to throw in something kitsch, fun and quirky to add personality, like the large ceramic leopard. I spotted it one Summer in the window of a British Heart Foundation shop for £7 when I was eight months pregnant, so I must've looked a funny sight hauling it down the street and sweating!'

Be bold

Emilie likes to push her clients to be bolder, although she admits they can take a bit of convincing. 'I used a pair of kitsch ceramic dogs in one kitchen I designed and the homeowner thought they were horrendous,' she laughs. 'But after I used them in a photoshoot she started to love them and decided to keep them.'

If Emilie's home has inspired you to visit your local British Heart Foundation Furniture & Electrical store, she has the following advice. 'Never go out to look for something specific as you rarely find it, but something will often catch your eye and you'll find a place for it. I love the thrill of finding something that appears out of nowhere. You can make two or three visits to the same charity shop and then suddenly something amazing appears.'

Photo credits: Emilie Fournet Interiors