As a start to my 'A Visit to:' series for #RutlandBlog I popped into Curious Designs in Uppingham to talk all things furniture, paint and interiors with owner Florrie Parsons - and her totally adorable Cockerpoo, Margot.
Since Florrie opened her gorgeous shop just off Uppingham High Street, I can't help but pop in when I've got a spare 10 minutes to check out her new pieces and browse her stunning giftware stock. I always fall in love with something pretty quickly.
So, I asked Florrie some questions about Curious Designs, and here is what she had to say...
Thanks for letting me come in today, can you tell a bit about you and the services you offer at Curious Designs?
You're very welcome- it was lovely for you to pop in! Curious Designs is primarily a hand painted furniture and giftwares shop. We sell a variety of second hand and vintage 'reloved' furniture and our stock is ever-changing. In addition to this, we sell furniture paint for those looking to upcycle their own pieces, and a variety of home and giftwares, including China and soft furnishings.
You're only 21 and already own your own business.
What made you want to start Curious Designs and what was your main inspirations?
From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to work for myself. Curious Designs actually came about after not knowing what to study at university! I received an offer to study Physiotherapy at the University of Leicester a couple of months before opening the shop- but I panicked. It didn't 'feel' right. My evenings weren't spent reading articles on sports science, but filled with hours on Pinterest searching home decoration, making Interior Design boards, or with my head buried in a Country Living magazine. My own style started to develop and it most definitely revolved around the furniture- plain, bold walls to contrast a beautifully hand painted piece of furniture. The furniture definitely had to be the show stopper - this is what I wanted to do for a living. I wanted to be hands on in creating beautiful home interiors - and I wanted to prove to myself that style doesn't have to cost a fortune, that everyone can have a beautiful home no matter how tight their budget. This was my main inspiration and why I took the leap to open the shop!
We also offer a custom painting service at Curious Designs. We will consider painting any piece of furniture from our workshop in Uppingham, and send quotations via email upon receipt of a photograph. Customers are welcome to choose from Farrow and Ball Eggshell paint, or our preferred choice Grand Illusions Vintage Paint (a chalky paint with a wonderful French-Nordic colour palette).
What do you love about having a business in Rutland, and was Uppingham always your dream shop location?
There is a real sense of community in Rutland, everybody is very encouraging and strives for everybody else to succeed! I cannot thank the other shop keepers enough for sending customers in my direction down the little alleyway, and my regulars who are so supportive and encouraging of what I do. I love having a shop in Uppingham, as we are a little town just bursting with independents all selling beautiful gifts and wares- it's definitely one of my dream shop locations. I long to venture into Stamford too in the distant future!
Has painting always been a passion of yours? Or was it something you just tried one day, or did you notice a gap in the market for hand painted furniture shop?
I started painting furniture when my sister got her first home- she had no idea how she was going to furnish it! From there I caught the upcycling bug, and just couldn't stop painting. It made me wonder how other people afford to furnish their homes- particularly first time buyers. Lots of people paint furniture and it certainly is something that anyone can do- no specialist skill is required - just practise, time and patience. But I did feel like there was a gap in the market to offer affordable, contemporary furniture for those with a tighter budget. My passion for interior design (and an excuse to paint more furniture) was what lead me to open shop.
But it's not just furniture and paint you sell in Curious Designs is it?
You have some amazing brands you stock too. Can you tell me more about them?
We also stock a variety of gifts and homewares. We are proud stockists of practical home and kitchenwares from Sophie Allport, and stunning hand illustrated, fine bone China from Julia Davey Ceramics. We also stock a gorgeous range of soaps and candles from The Clovelly Soap Company. For the dog lovers (particularly fox terrier fans) we stock a lovely range of soft furnishings from Plum and Ashby.
You've recently started stocking a new paint brand for use and sale, can you tell us more about the brand and why you love to use their paint over other furniture paint brands?
We are ecstatic to have become official stockists of Grand Illusions Vintage paint, a wonderful brand of chalk paint designed specifically for furniture. It has a particularly high chalk content, making it silky and smooth to work with and leaving a beautiful and highly durable finish. Grand Illusions have been selling furniture for over 25 years, originally by mail order, and more recently wholesale only. They created a paint that was not only durable enough for the showroom, but for day to day living and family life too. The paint is designed to replicate the traditional milk paints of the 18th and 19th century in its contents as well as its finish. We trialled many different paint brands before choosing Grand Illusions, and whilst every brand has fantastic properties, we chose Grand Illusions for its silky, smooth application and it's high durability with the varnish- not to mention the dreamy 27 colours available in the range.
Do you have any future plans for the business our readers might want to know about?
With the recent introduction of our fabulous paint brand 'Grand Illusions Vintage Paint', we hope in the future to offer Paint courses, where we will teach a variety of painting techniques and the skills needed to beautifully upcycle your own furniture. We hope to offer other crafty courses too, such as lampshade making - a fabulous and inexpensive way of updating your rooms. We are currently in the process of expanding our workshop space in order to accommodate these courses- so watch this space!
If people haven't already visited, tell us what they can expect from a visit at Curious Designs and where to find you?
If you haven't already visited, then we would love to meet you! Expect a warm welcome from our cockapoo puppy Margot, and a good natter about paint and furniture. We are located in Hope's Yard in Uppingham, the alleyway between Uppingham Antiques Centre and Smalls.
Follow Curious Designs:
Wednesday: 10am - 5pm
Thursday: 10am - 5pm
Friday: 10am - 5pm
Saturday: 10am - 5pm