This occasional series features Emma’s experiences of buying a home in Stoke-on-Trent and the wonderful people and places she encounters in Staffordshire.
Well it’s been a bit of a surprise to Matthew (we have a big restoration project on in Oxfordshire and he thought that was enough!) but I twisted his arm when a small house in The Villas in Stoke-on-Trent came onto the market this summer, well, reader we bought it. After thirty years of commuting I finally have an address in Stoke on Trent.
It’s a revelation to arrive in the factory after a six minute drive (or as Matt says, a 35 minute walk) as opposed to having driven two and a half hours, or risen before dawn to catch an early train: I feel so much more relaxed! And I’m really enjoying exploring the city all over again; it’s so nice to have time for diversions and excursions.
My plan with the house was to try for as simple a set up as possible. The place we found has been beautifully looked after, so it needs very little doing to it other than furnishing. Matt stood back and encouraged me to do what felt cosy, so with a resolution that I’d make the house habitable within a week and finish the job before the end of September, I set to.
Ahead of moving in I bought an old French single bed, an overmantel mirror and a small arm chair from a vintage shop in Oxford, and ordered a large brass bed from a firm in Cornwall who make them.
Everything else I have sourced locally, so in case it’s useful, I’d love to share my list of wonderful local shops, as I have very nearly managed within my self-imposed deadline, mostly thanks to the cheerful and helpful people I’ve met.
The very first thing I did was to buy a bed for my daughter who was arriving that night! I went just down the bank from our factory to BEDS BEDS BEDS, found a brilliantly comfy double from their huge range and agreed to be at home to receive said bed at 6.
For furniture in general, everyone said ‘Go to Leek!‘ And so I did. Three times, and each time I was followed home by a larger van!
At Haywood Interiors I got the most fantastic personal and helpful service from Micky, and I met several members of his lovely family, including an enchanting chihuahua puppy. I bought nice neat sized bedroom chests of drawers, a kitchen table and 3 chairs, several excellent carpets and a handsome pine blanket box.
From Odeon Antiques I bought mostly lighting from their huge stylish collection. I had great difficulty restraining myself, but managed to resist their tempting prints.
On the top floor of Odeon I was so happy to meet Nicky, whose collection called Homeward I liked the look of. Sadly she was packing it up to go to a fair at Ally Pally. When I returned on a later trip I bought many useful things, bookshelves, comfy chairs and my favourite buy of the month, a slender mahogany framed mirror, ten feet long, out of a drapers’ shop in Wales. Nicky was terrifically helpful and I really warmed to her.
In Compton Mill I found 2 sweet rattan bedside tables and put them in my car. My last Leek rendezvous was with Leek Antiques Centre on Brook Street where Clive and Jayni opened up especially for me. This is a magic cave of unusual things as Clive has a playful sense of style. I bought several pieces including an unusual pine desk which I love; I’m sitting at it now.
Back in Stoke I had a great tip off that in Penkhull I’d find a real old fashioned ironmonger, and I was not disappointed: I wanted a traditional mop and a galvanised bucket, I also found a tiny washing up bowl, picture pins and I could have gone on, but I needed to visit Terry’s Fabrics in Hartshill to plan curtains and I was due back at work shortly. Terry’s Fabrics is a crucial spot, and I already know them to work to the very highest standards: I can’t wait to hang the curtains that I have in mind.
I must also mention vital trips to Currys in Longton for essential while goods, a dull chore MUCH enlivened by the brilliant friendly service which typifies shopping in Stoke on Trent, which truly is home to the nicest people EVER.