take me home

desirable vintage furniture and accessories

article extracted from Elle Decoration - September 2004 page 53.

Leon Collyer

Leon opened his shop, Take Me Home, in Brighton 3 months ago. With an eclectic mix of vintage and modern furniture and textiles, it's his home away from home.

Who do you live with? 'My partner, Karen Miknas, my seven year-old stepson Liam, and our baby daughter, Gracie. Karen's a textile designer who mixes felt with silk to make clothing, accessories and home products that sell all over the world.'

What led you to open a furniture shop? 'I'll give you the short version: 12 years in fashion retail, some fun travelling the world, no fun in recruitment in the city, a sideline buying and selling furniture in auctions, then at Greenwich market, then in Camden, and finally a desire for a "grown-up" shop all of my own'

So why Brighton? 'We were ready to move out of London in favour of a life by the sea - and Brighton seemed perfect because there is a real appetite there for the sort of things that I love to sell.

How would you describe your style? 'Experimental. Take Me Home sells everything from rosewood sideboards to 70's Swedish porn posters. Some of the items will sell quicker than others, but i like to go out on a limb and buy things that aren't a dead cert, which hopefully sets the shop apart from many others. It's important to show some restraint though � there's a fine line between effective eclectic and a dog's dinner. I always buy items that I'm going to enjoy looking at and handling in the long term'

What do you like best about your job 'Not being tied to a desk. Being surrounded by gorgeous things all day. But the most enjoyable aspect of it is going to auctions. I love getting carried away by bidding for things I must have in the shop!'

And the worst part? 'The boss is a perfectionist control freak!'

What's the best thing you've ever bought for your house and where did you find it? 'Our 60's Sputnik chandelier. I saw it at the Lifestyle Company in Spitalfields, but it was well beyond my means. I took all the cash I had and just pleaded � they must have felt sorry for me! It looks stunning over our dining table'

What's in your secret address book? 'Greenwich Auctions Partnership holds auctions every Saturday where you can usually find a few vintage gems among the more modern bits.'

What can't you live with out? 'Music, I've always tried not to be too fashion conscious in my tastes and to be open to all genres. Also, I love going to gigs - you get such a great, unique experience for just ten or fifteen quid.'

What is your all time favourite piece of design? 'Following the recent birth of my daughter Gracie, I could say that Mother Nature has got design down to a tee. On a less sentimental note, the fluidity and elegance of "la chaise" by Charles and Ray Eames is breathtaking - 56 years on, it still looks contemporary.'

What makes you happy? 'Gracie making her first soft, satisfied noises. Mucking about with Liam and a football. Staying in with Karen and enjoying one of her amazing meals and a reasonable amount of good red wine.'

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