I had the joy of meeting Claire and Jamie, husband and wife who play equal roles in running Louisa Grace Interiors in Surrey. Jamie studied art and has a particular eye for the type of furniture they sell, whilst Claire is currently studying Interior Design so that they can add another layer to the business by including a service to those who might not be able to choose or visualise the furniture in their home. They have an astonishing collection of quality items that are showcased in their 3 barns and its good to see the imperfections, the details and to get a good feel for the sizes of furniture. They also have a trusted network of couriers that they use for longer distances like Cornwall and Scotland – so you don’t have to worry about taking it back your self.
I hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as I did, their website link and more information is at the bottom of the post.
Hi Claire and Jamie, tell me how did the business start?
Well it happened by accident when we made some blackboards for the children. We went to the local charity, bought some antique picture frame and some paint, made the blackboards and gave it to the girls. That was the beginning, next thing we are in my mums garage with an overload of furniture and needed more space.
Whats behind the name?
It’s taken from our daughters middles names and my nan was named Louisa as well so its a nice family name to tie in to the brand.
What qualities do you look for when choosing pieces of furniture?
Claire: Generally its something a bit different, all our pieces are original. We like industrial furniture and anything that you wouldn’t find on the high street. We like good quality items that are built to last.
Jamie: I look at what I can possibly do to it, and is it sellable. How can I make it look better? Sometimes when I buy something I know instantly what I can do with it or other times it takes me a while.
What are you inspired by?
Claire: Oh lots of things, especially Pinterest.
Jamie: For me its mostly here. Sometimes when I am working here I am inspired by other pieces of furniture, its a great place to find inspiration.
Whats the most interesting part of your day?
Jamie: Buying! If I could do that every single day then I would be happy and not just buying stuff I love but for the right money as well. There is a balance to buying, you either buy something that you don’t necessarily love but it will sell on for a good price or you can buy something that you love and maybe there isn’t enough profit, but you like it and you like looking at it.
Claire: Its a brilliant feeling to make a sale and seeing customer photos which I love!
What been the biggest challenge so far?
Finding this premises was so hard. We searched high and low, we ended up posting flyers around and finally we found this. We needed to do lots of working to get the first barn up to standard. It was an old cattle shed so it didn’t even have a floor in it.
What do you love about the location?
Its local for us we are five minutes from the area so if anyone wants to pop over on a Sunday and we are at home then we can meet them. Banstead as a little village is great, it has lots of little independent businesses and even places like the Mayfield lavender fields which is on the same road as us. Also we are only sixteen miles from the centre of London!
What do you think consumers should consider when shopping local vs high street?
Everything here is unique, you want original one of pieces that you won’t find anywhere else.
Whats your favourite piece in the barn?
Claire: Its this haberdashery cupboard we got given recently. It was actually given to us for free, this local guy called us and wanted to get rid of it and I loved it! I also really like the chandeliers, which come in all different sizes.
Whats the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Jamie: If you buy something you love you will find that someone else will love it as well.
Whats in store for the future?
Claire: We would love to open a little café nearby which would have some of our pieces for customers to see. It would be a great way to have some local presence that we are missing and another way to expand the business.