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Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham reports on how to make the most of what you've got

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Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2009

Owner of The Packhouse antiques centre in Farnham, Alison Hougham reports on how to make the most of what you've got







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






Finding new ways to arrange and display a quirky assortment of objects can be great fun and is a very affordable way of creating new art displays around your home. So many of us are very good at picking up interesting finds in antique shops and flea markets, but I for one have lost track of how many times I have brought home a little pile of treasures that I simply cannot live without, only to get back and find that I store them away because I run out of the time needed to spend on arranging them.

Foraging in cupboards

A very good friend of mine recently came to stay and, as often happens, started foraging around my home looking at all the things I have tucked away into nooks and at the back of cupboards. Within one afternoon, my home had been transformed by her keen eye and ability to throw together seemingly unrelated items - that once displayed together have become mini art statements in their own right.

A lovely old marble-top dresser of mine now stands perfectly dressed for summer with an old driftwood mirror above a selection of garden urns and crowns, a little cream jug and decanters that have been lovingly tied with old ribbons. Wirework birds, small apple candles and a few of my favourite interiors books that had been gathering dust in my hallway cupboard, now look fresh and interesting.

It is very easy and quick to create such displays. All you need is a little imagination and the time set aside to look at your things with new eyes. The more innovative and creative you can be, the more appealing and personal your display will prove.

The architect Mies van der Rohe once said: 'God is in the details.' This insight reflects one of the key elements of budget chic: simply make the most of the accessories and treasures you have already. They will put a personal stamp on your home, creating a visual reminder of who you are, where you came from and what you love. Mix in amongst this the many practical objects that you simply could not live without and together the combination will create truly decorative results.

The trick with all displays is to give them enough space to breathe. A small clutch of objects will look more striking if kept free from too much clutter.

Rediscover your home

Enjoy taking time to rediscover what you have in your cupboards and have fun searching out new gems to complement your displays. By saving in some areas, you may be able to splash out a little more for a singular piece that could prove a long-term investment.

Don't keep your gems behind closed doors; instead have fun mixing it all up, changing it all around and best of all taking time out to appreciate what you have. I have certainly found this quite refreshing for the soul!

The Packhouse is in Runfold, Farnham: www.packhouse.com




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












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