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Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham reports on all the latest goings-on in Surrey antiques

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Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2009

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham reports on all the latest goings-on in Surrey antiques







Find out when and where upcoming Surrey antiques fairs are taking place







I have been soul searching to come up with a unique gift for my god-daughter's christening that will, I hope, remain not only treasured but something she will want to use and enjoy every day when she becomes older. A simple enough problem, I would have thought, but with only three weeks to go, I was starting to get twitchy! That was until I met Nick...

We are approached, as you can imagine, by many dealers each week who would like to exhibit their antiques at The Packhouse. It is a rare occurrence, though, when I immediately feel that sparkle of excitement as you realise that you have stumbled upon someone who has both a refreshingly unique approach to antique restoration and enthusiasm, and skill that surpasses anything you have seen for a long time.

That is why, this month, I have decided to share with you a new hidden gem: this time not a product we have sourced but a dealer whose products I am delighted to welcome into our business. Nick Crabb's style is born out of a love of antiques, fine art and well-painted antique furniture - the culmination of a background in fine art, decorative boat restoration for the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and many years working as a specialist painter for interior designers, other dealers and the trade. He is essentially self-taught, having researched old methods, materials and designs, as well as learning valuable techniques from the actual restoration of original painted furniture. And, with the introductions over, I can now invite you to view one of the many lovely items he has brought with him - a beautiful pine chest of drawers that was made in the mid 19th century and still has its original turned feet.

These chests were originally grain painted to imitate mahogany, oak or maple and, over the years, would normally have been subject to two or three repaints, usually ending up in shocking white gloss during the Sixties! This piece has been stripped and repainted in an off-white and then simply lined (as often seen on original pieces). The decoration is a copy of a painting by Nathan Fielding (1746-1819). Much inspiration for these pictures comes from old art auction catalogues but it is also possible to commission a personal design.

What has inspired me about this, and the rest of Nick's collection, is the way old pieces of furniture can be transformed from tired and unloved relics into stunning and personal treasures that would hold a special place in any room setting and, hopefully, in my darling god-daughter's heart.







Find out when and where upcoming Surrey antiques fairs are taking place






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