From the romance and frivolity of Rococo to the exuberant, grand Baroque – French decor and furniture has stood the test of time in the sometimes-fickle world of interiors. It has a charming, chameleon quality, sitting comfortably in a myriad of homes. Just think of the quintessential Louis-style painted bed, the simple, elegant lines work to perfection in both country cottages and urban lofts, so we think it's certainly worth considering this enduring style for your own home. Over a bright March morning, we caught up with established dealers Matthew and Hannah Leckonby, owners of Angliou from its studio in the charming hamlet of Octon, between Driffield and Scarborough.
Tell me about your love of French furniture
We moved to France in 2007 with son Angus and daughter Charlotte. Hannah was already an auction junkie and immediately started scouring local brocantes with gusto to furnish our holiday cottages. What struck us was the elegance and craftsmanship of the pieces; each one had a rich history and such character. Returning to the UK on holiday, we would load the car with our finds and sell everything, so we knew with a little marketing and PR that we could turn this into a full-time business. After six happy years, we packed our bags and returned to the family farm to start a new adventure. Another more personal part of the decision was our son, Angus. Angus was born with learning difficulties, and we wanted to create a home-based business that would allow him to thrive. This has worked out perfectly… he’s now a superb furniture stripper and plays a pivotal role in the business.
Bringing pieces back to life
Hannah had previously trained in soft furnishings, so she set up this part of the business. The team believe in traditional, time-honoured methods ensuring the highest quality finishes. Some furniture needs a bit of rejuvenation to turn them into modern pieces, so certain items may need a light touch whereas others need to be rebuilt, so we can upholster, reupholster, or renovate. The result always shows the craftsmanship and undisputed quality of our furniture. The businesses focus and passion is for genuine antique French furniture; however, we also buy vintage and retro items that catch our eye.
Have people’s tastes changed over the years?
Surprisingly, it hasn’t changed too much… but the overall look is smarter and more confident than when people started buying French furniture during the shabby chic period of the late 1980s. Armchairs, smaller sofas, and beds remain popular. Customers love the eclectic style of Napoleon III-style with its exuberant shapes and profusion of decorative motifs. Couvre, or curved sofas, are also big sellers. They are normally smaller, so work in every home. Pairs of single beds for guest rooms or children’s bedrooms leave the showroom as soon as they arrive, particularly Louis XVI with its decorative little pineapples on top. Whichever style people choose; the common theme for everything we sell is quality.
Which are your favourite Linwood fabric collections?
Our showroom is packed with weaves, prints and plains from renowned fabric houses and we can easily arrange for swatches to be sent through the post. We love working with Linwood’s fabrics. Plain Omega is our go-to velvet upholstery fabric, it can withstand dogs and children and the colours are great. For more vibrant tastes, Rainforest Rabble is our No1 choice – people love the vibrancy of the design and we have had many requests for Bukhara (above). We mainly work in velvet, but Juno – your plain, woven fabric collection – has proven popular, either by itself or mixed with printed velvets. In terms of colour, green has recently been the most requested.
Any other services you offer?
Yes, we have teamed up with a local company to provide bespoke made pocket sprung mattresses specifically for French beds. These mattresses are designed for the most well-known bed styles in all sizes from small singles to super king size. We also sell unique headboards – shown in Kami and English Oak velvet – all inspired by the gorgeous and stylish shabby chic antique bedroom furniture of France.
How do you see people styling their homes with French furniture?
On our travels across the country, we see many looks but two of our favourites are glamour and country. For the first, think sparkling chandeliers, toile wallpaper and ornate mirrors against a graceful, muted palette. Rustic is simpler in tone – layers of laidback linen fabric, jute flooring and painted furniture, create a look that exudes warmth. You might have very different ideas, and that’s the undisputed beauty of French-style furniture it works in any home and any scheme.
To check our stock, please follow this link. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org; 01262 470571.