To the country this week and the Oxfordshire borders where just outside Henley you will find this delightfully unexpected interiors shop. Located in a converted church hall with vintage chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling Life@Nettlebed is a glamorous outpost nestled deep in the English countryside. Most of the items are sourced from Europe, the owners buy from Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Sweden. It has a sort of Country Life meets Richard Curtis's Notting Hill vibe with a cafe and deli, The Field Kitchen, functioning post office and village shop next door.
Who are you? Sue Beales & Karen D’Arcy of Life@Nettlebed
Where can we find you? Church Hall, High Street, Nettlebed, Oxon, RG9 5DA (01491 642062) www.lifeatnettlebed.co.uk
Describe your store in five words: Glamorous, Eccentric, Individual, Unique, Inspiring
What makes you different? Scale of furniture and mix of styles, from large pieces of bleached oak furniture and giant chandeliers to bespoke hand dyed silk velvet cushions and antler footstools. Our services range from interior design, upholstery and paint consultations to styling events and property staging.
How you decide what makes the cut? Instinct - we look for things that excite and inspire us, hopefully they will inspire our clients too.
What were you doing before you did this? Karen was doing graphic design and property development, Sue was involved with IT sales in Europe.
If you were starting again what advice would you give yourself? Don’t expect too much too soon, it takes a long time and a huge effort to establish a following. Be open to change as your business will evolve, and get used to the sleepless nights.
What are you most proud of? Our beautiful new premises in a newly restored church hall and the way we have grown our business organically, on our own terms, over the last eight years. We always manage to achieve the ‘wow’ factor – customers walk in and say “what an amazing shop”.
Do you have a favourite thing in the store right now? The 6ft wide vintage French bed which we have restored using Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe and re-upholstered in a soft grey French linen.
What's hot for 2013? Mateus ceramics, especially their butterfly plates and bowls, painted by hand, beautiful pastel shades, definitely raspberry for this year.
Every Wednesday 'Indie of the week' celebrates the best independent stores around. These places sell interesting and varied collections of design-related things you don't see everywhere else. They may support young or local designers or be great at finding unique things from around the world. By thinking a little more creatively about what they stock they are fighting the bland homogenisation of so much of the high street. And since I'm down with the realities of modern life, online only stores count too, because a beautiful and easy to use website is just as delightful an encounter in cyberspace.
Do you you have a favourite store? I'd love to hear from you.