Interior designer Carole Alan is the owner of My Favourite Things, a newly opened vintage furniture shop based at Stonham Barns. Most pre-owned pieces are upcycled or, as she prefers to say, brought back to life
The unique ‘objects of desire’ on sale at My Favourite Things, the new outlet at Stonham Barns, are picked up at auctions and sales around Suffolk and Norfolk, before being transformed by owner Carole Alan. The interior designer brings these pre-owned pieces back to life and sells them to customers who want contemporary and vintage feature pieces with an interior design accent at a fraction of the price that major manufacturers charge.
And that could involve upcycling furniture with the help of all sorts of fabric prints, from chintzy fabrics all the way through to muted greys – and even prints of monkeys, parrots and giraffes. The pieces range from hand selected decorative accessories, bedside cabinets, ornate chairs and tables, to baskets, storage and sculpture. The items are mostly for the home, but Carole has a passion for garden design too and so stocks pieces that would dress up any garden space, however large or small.
She says: ‘It’s all about what makes you happy and interior design is my passion. My customers are looking to beautify home spaces but, in some instances, they have a compromised budget.’ Whether it’s for a refurbishment or a new extension, ‘they want it all to work for them aesthetically. They want it to give the vibe they feel, whether it’s flamboyant, functional, clutter free – everyone channels their own ideas that are as individual as they are.’
Pieces have literally ‘flown’ out of the outlet since it opened during the first week of November. ‘I am being asked how I manage to sell these beautiful pieces at such affordable prices and the answer is that they came to the second-hand market, and I identified that they could be beautiful so brought them and renovated them to make them someone’s dream purchase.’
Carole, who was born on the Isle of Sheppey, an island of the northern coast of Kent, has lived and worked in various States in the USA before settling back in Norfolk to open a similar shop in Holt. She reached a point in her life when she could retire but chose not to, as she loves the job she does. ‘I have always been creative and enjoyed restoration – but have also worked in business and social care. For me, this is where I think my future lies.
‘I have been supplying beautiful furniture for around 10 years now and it’s what I love to do. When the shop closed in Holt, I then entered another phase in my life. I missed the people and the socialising.
‘I spent all of lockdown doing what I do best, restoring pieces for my own personal satisfaction and, when lockdown came to an end, I looked at the many lovely items I’d restored, and it was obvious that I should get back to the business of selling them.’
‘They are ‘My Favourite Things’ and I love to see people excited when they can clearly see the beauty in the pieces that I see. It gives people a new interest in furniture to find pieces they can’t resist and that they can afford.’ With a son in the USA and daughter near her in Suffolk, Carole is now settled and living in Hadleigh.