Looking for some shopping inspiration? Why not make a weekend of it and head down to vintage interiors store HomeBarn in Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire.
Back in 2010, sisters-in-law Sally and Sarah Wilkie, with backgrounds in fashion design and interiors buying respectively, were exploring career options that would fulfil their creative passions while giving them the flexibility to care for their young families.
Sally had recently returned from a seven-year stint as a Fashion Director for Abercrombie & Fitch in the US and was inspired by the amazing offering of vintage and flea market style stores across the pond. The pair lamented the lack of such stores in the UK and sensed a gap in the market.
“We both felt there was a lack of vintage outlets locally selling much more than the traditional antiques (grandfather clocks and mahogany linen presses etc.). We wanted to create something different and make the shop a destination for people to make a special trip to the countryside to seek us out,” Sarah explains.
Having known each other for 13 years, the sisters-in-law had no doubts about going into business together, especially given that their husbands (brothers Mark and James) also work together, running London design agency, The Narrative. “We were both passionate about interiors and vintage and shared a similar taste in all things for the home, so the match of Sally and I was perfect,” Sarah explains.
The result was the stunning interiors store, HomeBarn, which stocks a vast range of vintage furniture and decorative accessories; everything from industrial furniture to original apothecary bottles, individual vintage printing blocks to enormous scullery cabinets salvaged from grand Victorian homes. They also work closely with UK craftsmen to make bespoke dining tables and cabinets to order from reclaimed timber.
HomeBarn also specialises in original paintwork and unique historical pieces which have not been over-restored. “We love learning the story and history behind each piece of furniture,” they explain. “For example, we have a coffee table made from a door of a 17th Century nunnery which is mounted on legs made from the fire dogs from the same property.”
Sally and Sarah are also fascinated by entomology and botany, reflected in the wide range of nature-inspired artwork for sale, much of which consists of unique botanical pieces produced in conjunction with British artists.
Passionate about visual merchandising and styling, they also invest significant time and energy into the design and layout of the store. “We enjoy making the shop and website look exciting, ever-changing and aspirational so that people can envisage a quirky piece such as an old shop counter in their own home,” they explain.
The duo want the experience at HomeBarn to be different from that of the traditional antique shop, so they chose to organise the layout of the barn by living areas, such as kitchen, dining, living, etc. “You can buy all manner of vintage gardening accessories from 100-year-old hand thrown terracotta pots to vintage French vine secateurs from our potting shed area,” they explain.
HomeBarn is located in the picturesque Buckinghamshire village of Little Marlow, surrounded by the Chiltern Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Most of their customers find the store online and tie in a trip to HomeBarn with a relaxed weekend of nearby countryside walks, wonderful restaurants and cosy gastro pubs.
While the pair do turn to books and magazines for inspiration, they admit they are often inspired to commission new pieces based on what they need in their own homes. They also work closely with their trusted network of cabinetmakers and antique traders, who will often seek Sally and Sarah’s opinions on new pieces and vice versa. “They are all very creative and we definitely inspire one another,” they admit.
HomeBarn also creates bespoke commissions for a wide range of trade customers, including interior architects and designers, sourcing everything from quirky decorative accessories and statement pieces for projects ranging from domestic interior schemes to bars, restaurants and even cinemas.