The Harrow Road is not one of London's more inspiring features, but you'd be a fool to write it off. One of the jewels in the London interiors crown, Retrouvius, made its home there over 20 years ago. Like me, you might delight in the 'New Stock Emails' that Retrouvius send out. But where the real excitement starts is entering the shop. Adam Hill, one half of Retrouvius, who runs the salvage side of things, was kind enough to show me around. Thank goodness he did, as the place is a rabbit warren that anyone who has the slightest bit of interest in antiques and salvage could happily spend the day. The salvaged worktops alone would cause me to malfunction.
While we walked around the shop, Adam showed me the many different iterations the rooms had taken; the kitchen that was once downstairs was now being filled up with stacks of chairs. It had been relocated to the first floor to a light-filled room painted a delicious butterscotch colour, which Rose (who works with Adam) said with trepidation that the stock was photographing a little too well against, perhaps she was forwarning another change. While we walked around, I constantly stopped in my tracks to admire different pieces, he would say nonchalantly, 'They called me up, said I had a day to collect it. It would seem so many of these redevelopers have grand plans for the future of their buildings and hold little store in the past. Retrouvius' speed and know-how have seen them save Heathrow's Terminal Two entire concourse floor of 2,000 square metres of rare Hopton Wood fossil limestone, a quarter of a km of Victorian adjustable shelving & many copper light panels and doors from the University of the Arts building. These architectural relics will often end up on the tip if Adam doesn't get there in time.
While I sit listening to Adam recount these many close shaves, I wonder at my frivolity. Having recently moved into a house, I have uttered what we both decided was a particularly dangerous sentiment, 'I just want to make it mine'. This need to impress ourselves on the buildings we inhabit means much of the architectural elements and design get tossed aside, making way for our new, modified piece, which is more to our liking but inevitably not the next owner's taste. So it should come as no surprise that it is 'estimated that only 1% of building materials are currently from reclaimed sources'. After this meeting, I decided to keep the kitchen we had inherited and the tiles in the bathroom. Both of which are not a bit of me, but do they need to be? Ah, not a string we want to pull too heavily on, but good to keep in mind. All this leaves me to say, of course, Retrouvius is a Top Shop and a marvellous place to start when thinking about your home.