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Beaux antiques at Beau Nash

The uber-exciting news is that Scandi is out and antiques are back. Beau Nash’s new shop in Brock Street – next door to their established antique silverware store – has reinvented the antique shop of old into a trend-reflecting interiors haven.

What have you done with your dark wood furniture during its forgotten years? If it’s been swept aside in favour of distressed Scandi-chic cupboards, dressers, tables and everything else pared back, it’s time for some rigorous reassessment, if you want your home interior to be taken seriously. That’s because dark wood antique pieces (sometimes demeaningly labelled as ‘brown furniture’) – which have been out of vogue for decades – are seriously, ever-so back. And it’s not just about bringing those family treasures that you never quite had the heart to get rid of out of attics and spare rooms (and thank goodness for that hoarding instinct, if so) – people are actually, truly buying it. Yes. Some antique dealers are even saying that they can’t get enough Georgian card tables and can’t give away Scandi-style sideboards. Who would have believed it?

Well, this news means that the Beau Nash team (Duncan Campbell and Ron Pringle) in Brock Street is now in its historic element, because their enduring philosophy is based around antiques. They are so enthusiastic about this refreshing turnaround that they have decided, with new partner Cynthia Wihardja, to open a new Beau Nash shop next door to the existing one, selling fashionable Georgian and period antiques, providing tantalising retail choices for buyers to select in order to enhance their Georgian, period (or otherwise) interiors.

The shop had been a chemist since the late 19th century, so was mercifully untouched by modernisers and converters. So once Beau Nash committed to the building, and started the process of preparing it, they – thrillingly – discovered that the formica partitions defining the chemist’s retail area revealed beautifully proportioned Georgian spaces, with intact fireplaces complete with decorative tiles, original doors and wooden floors. What is more, the large downstairs basement room – on initial inspection barely accessible, with decades of piled up clutter – had further delights. The rubbish was cleared to reveal a sturdy flagstone floor, a double-size Georgian cooking range with drop-down fire bars complete with wall-mounted wooden poles for rotating the spits. On the wall opposite there is authentic wooden shelving, deep and wide, until recently storing coloured and labelled jars and bottles from the chemist and now sporting china platters, serving dishes and plates. “The great thing about this building is that it has been largely untouched for centuries. We didn’t have to add much – all we had to do was clear everything and add some paint to bring this wonderful space back to life”, says Ron.

While the new outlet is focused around creating a Georgian experience for houses of the same period in Bath, creative flexibility is also at play, with pieces from other historical periods and parts of the world – including Venetian, Syrian, Asian, Indian – selected simply because they sit comfortably with the overall interior decor. There are spindleback Windsor chairs, low tripod tables, walnut writing desks, commode chests, elaborately decorated trunks, fireplace fenders, mahogany cellarettes (for keeping wine cool during meals), portrait mirrors with candleholders, inlaid writing slopes and large painted portraits, among many other things.

Now the main transformation is complete and the shop has opened, this extensive space has positioned itself with a clear sense of intent: antiques for fashionable interiors. You see, this is not the stale, higgledy-piggledy antiques store of old where you searched through packed-in and piled-up furniture for your must-have item. Rather it takes its lead from the leading London antiques scene on Pimlico Road, say, where interior decor is king, trends are made and followed and style is driven by outstanding period artefacts.

We look to London-based businesses who are forward-looking for inspiration. We need to focus on the up-and-coming trends

“We want to keep up with what people want, rather than what we happen to have in stock. We need to focus on what the up-and-coming trends are, and what is in the interiors magazines.” adds Duncan.

Cynthia takes up the profile: “The reason we call ourselves Beau Nash is that we’re trying to encapsulate and revive the spirit of Beau Nash, the leader of 18th-century fashion – and in this spirit we are saying you don’t have to have a traditional type of antique shop.

“We are also on a mission to bring back the beauty of Brock Street – we want to restore this street and to work together with others in Margaret’s Buildings and Brock Street to make it a Bath shopping destination.” These like-minded businesses include Berdoulat at 8 Margaret’s Buildings, run by Patrick and Neri Williams, offering a collection of restored 18th- and 19th-century furniture, kitchenware and tableware. Also Tobias Vernon’s 8 Holland Street at 23 Brock Street with its collection of modernist European furniture, artwork and design.

Ron makes it clear that there is no stuffiness about the new venture: “We are setting up to offer a service. We’ve got lovely antiques, but when people come in they are looking to decorate their houses, not to have a historical lecture.”

The shop is happy to look at antique pieces that are brought in for possible sale, and for residents this will be an open and honest discussion with the idea of achieving a sale and not using high mark-ups. “We’re not here to take money from Bath residents – this will be part of the service”, says Ron.

Cynthia has the last words on the new enterprise: “Ultimately it’s about fashionable antiques and a warmth of spirit. We want the variety and professionalism of a London shop with the hospitality of Bath. That’s the spirit of Beau Nash.”

Beau Nash, 28 and 31 Brock Street Bath (fashionable antiques and silverware); beaunashbath.com

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