With the beautiful rolling hills and wonderful Georgian homes built out of distinctive pale sandy Bath Stone as a backdrop, it’s no wonder that Pencil Tree in Bath is an inspired, light-filled location. With both of the owners, husband and wife team Kirstie and Paul, also artists – the scene becomes even more stunning. With a heady mixture of stunning mid century furniture, bright and happy pops of artwork on the walls and exquisite accessories, Pencil Tree is a little haven of design and colour in the artisan quarter of Bath.
Their experience within the interiors space stretches across a number of projects – from owning and running a beautiful holiday home in North Devon, to working with other owners to dress their holiday lets, as well as each creating distinctive paintings that adorn the walls of their shop.
We met Kirstie and Paul at their stunning shop early one morning to talk about their working lives before moving into the furniture trade, their favourite designs and what inspires them.
When did you start trading? How did you get into the trade?
We started trading in October 2014. We’ve both always loved auctions, antique fairs & interior design. It was getting to the point where our house was full to bursting – so it seemed like a good idea to open a shop.
What did you do before this?
Paul and I come from very different working backgrounds. I was in event marketing in London and New York whilst Paul owned nightclubs and bars in London and then later in Bath and North Devon.
What designers or periods are you particularly interested and inspired by?
Charles & Ray Eames, Peter Hvidt & H W Klein
From which countries do you source your antique pieces?
We buy in the UK, but we absolutely love Danish design.
Have you ever come across a really spectacular find that blew you away?
The de Sede DS 600 sofa is pretty incredible, Paul had one in his London flat and then in the nightclub.
What is your favourite piece right now?
Currently I’m lusting over a Low Double Chest by Poul Hundevad
What do you do when you are not working?
We spend as much time as possible by the sea with our kids as we just love Cornwall. Both of us are artists and the light and spectacular scenery never fails to inspire.
What was the first piece you ever sold?
An Alvar Aalto screen.
Who is your typical customer?
At our shop we have a lot of customers who have lived with mid century furniture in their youth and are now rediscovering it again. The mid century style works so well with the grand, light filled Georgian interiors in Bath.
Why did you choose to open your premises in each of your locations?
We’re in Bath as its close-ish to London, and not too far from the coast. Our shop is in the ‘artisan’ quarter, its the most affordable area for shops so there’s a plethora of independent businesses specialising in interiors.
What are the most difficult and the rewarding things about running your own business?
The most difficult is sourcing just the right stock, as the majority is vintage it can be hard to come by at the right price. The most rewarding is dealing in beautiful things, and meeting wonderful like minded people.
What’s next for Pencil Tree?
We are about to build a striking, contemporary flat on the back of our shop. It will be filled with beautiful mid century pieces and original art (all of which will be for sale), and we’re going to run it as a holiday let. This will complement our existing holiday let in North Devon, Big House Devon. In addition to this we have also started holiday let interior design and set up. The success of Airbnb has brought so many lets onto the market. In order to stand out from the crowd its so important to offer something different and unusual, people are now after an experience and like to stay somewhere beautifully designed and inspiring.
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