Decamping to the garden to recharge, cook, eat and entertain in over the summer months is always a tempting prospect. Longing to convert your outside space into an extended living area you can use for relaxing and socialising? Meet Sam and Tamara. Having both previously worked in the interiors industry, styling homes and sourcing for commercial designers, they merged their businesses and are now known collectively as @vintagecuratorinteriors. Experts at transforming living spaces – outdoors and in – they’re devoted to interior design that’s brimming with character. We sat down with them both to discuss all things vintage, antique and sustainable…
Tell us a bit about your account and how it all started:
Tamara: Vintage Curator Interiors began on Instagram in 2016 as a way of showcasing Sam’s Edwardian home. It has evolved over the years and in 2021, Sam and I combined both of our businesses, placing an emphasis on illustrating how vintage and antique designs still have their place in homes with a modern and sustainable feel.
Where did your passion for all things interiors originate?
Sam: I grew up with a mum who always collected vintage pieces, loved styling and was obsessed with interiors, so it has been in my blood since I was a little girl. It definitely inspired a passion for interiors creativity, but I actually only began working in the industry in my 40s; I trained as an interior designer and spent a number of years styling people’s homes.
With sustainability in mind, how do you make the old and new work together?
Tamara: Sustainability is something that we try to prioritise constantly. Of course, there are times that we have got things wrong, but I think it is a learning curve constantly for all of us. There’s a great joy associated with pre-loved items. Knowing that a piece has lasted for so many years means that the quality, craftmanship and aesthetic is superb; in turn, when choosing modern pieces, we try to ensure that each emulates those particular attributes. We are very selective when it comes to contemporary designs. We love mixing the two, it’s that blend of both which makes a home really interesting and unique.
What were the main reasons for updating your outside space and the benefits?
Sam: Since the pandemic, embracing the tranquillity offered by the great outdoors has become more important for everyone. As a family, we realised that having corners of our garden purposefully designed to be peaceful havens would be so beneficial for our mental and physical health. These were places we could unwind, boost our wellbeing and feel surrounded by nature, whilst still being immersed in city life. In order to achieve this, we needed to update some of the outside areas so that they were an extension of our home’s interior, in terms of colour, texture, and mood.
What do you envisage using your outdoor room for and how will this change seasonally?
Sam: The beauty of our outside space is that it can transform from a shady cool relaxing spot during the day to a twinkly, cosy retreat at night, perfect for entertaining friends and family. This area is partially covered and features a great area for a firepit, which means that the outdoor lounge can be used throughout the seasons, during autumn and winter too.
What are your 5 top tips for creating the perfect outdoor entertaining space?
- Think of your favourite holiday and then work hard to pick up pieces – old and new – which recreate that vibe. That way, a new external lounge area will really feel like your happy place. Lots of room in the garden? Over time it’s a great idea to develop different corners of it, so they can be enjoyed by the whole family.
- Make it work year-round, with elements that can be tweaked according to the season. For that oh-so-cosy feel, choose wraparound furniture that visually hugs a coffee table, or firepit. When autumn arrives, swap summer cushions and throws for cosy blankets and a firepit. A partial cover will be useful for the cooler months, too.
- Use ambient lighting; it’s really important to create atmosphere and it completely sets the mood, as well as practically allowing you to remain outside as sunset falls and you go from spending time in a daylight relaxation zone, to a twinkly evening space.
- Embrace nature. When it comes to enhancing your outdoor seating area, using plants to define this particular zone in your garden is a great way to beautifully enhance and separate it from the rest of your patio or lawn area, thus creating an intimate social space. Position foliage all around, embrace the soothing sound of birdsong and really try to switch off.
- Press Play on (soft) music; this ultimate mood booster always has the power to add a little something magical to your dream space. Great memories start here…
- Get up early and arrive when the fair opens. You can find a complete list of fairs which are hosted in the UK, online.
- Take cash; most dealers prefer it.
- Wrap up as you’ll need to be warm in winter, remembering to take water, snacks and a trolley (if you've got one).
- Abandon a huge list and remain focused. Antique Fairs are huge and can be overwhelming, so it's best to go with the intention of seeking out two or three key items.
- Be nice to the dealers. Say hello, build a rapport and ask for information about a piece that’s caught your eye. If you ask for their best price, don't then follow it up by requesting a discount.
- Take a photograph if you buy something and subsequently leave it with a dealer for later collection; it’s useful to have a reference as to where it is located! If you need a courier, make sure you have booked it early in the day; availability soon becomes limited.
Without giving away your secret haunts – what advice would you give to our readers about hunting for antique or vintage items?
Inspired? Add some personality and practicality to your outdoor space, with our clever buys.