Samantha Bruce has always had an eye for the unusual, and her Thirties home is !lled with "amboyant and unexpected touches
amantha and Dougie Bruce’s home in Royal Tunbridge Wells is a masterclass in laid-back luxury. The house twinkles with super- sized fairground illuminations and pre! y chandeliers; seating ranges from sleek mid- century chairs to the enveloping comfort of a huge Togo sofa from Ligne Roset; the walls are hung with contemporary art and, just to keep the mix happy and unpredictable, the odd piece of winsome taxidermy peeps out from unexpected places. But Samantha resists the temptation to overcrowd her rooms. ‘ I prefer to display a few really good pieces, so they stand out and can be appreciated properly,’ she explains.
Samantha owns In House Junkie, an antiques and interiors shop in St Leonards on Sea, which specialises in quirky and glamorous pieces that she sources from antiques markets in Europe and the UK. ‘ I’ve always been a rummager and I love it when I spot a diamond among the junk,’ she says, gesturing to her latest "nd, a Sixties table lamp with a golden- orbed stem, ‘de" nitely a keeper’. Although most of what she buys is for her shop, she can never resist keeping a few of her favourite "nds for herself. Which is
not surprising, as shop and home share a similar aesthetic: beautiful pieces from previous eras mixed with canvases by contemporary artists that hint at a darker side. ‘ I’m drawn to pieces with something unexpected beneath the surface,’ she says, and her newest acquisition, a painting by Rachel Gli!enberg that hangs in the dining area, is no exception. ‘ I love its dream-like atmosphere,’ she says.
Buying art that’s ahead of the curve chimes with Samantha’s love of spo! ing gems at antiques markets, although sometimes the antiques are hard won. On one bi!erly cold trip to Saint- Ouen, Paris’s famous "ea market, her car was broken into. ‘ It was one of those winter mornings when it’s almost too cold to think,
and the market wasn’t great,’ she remembers. ‘ But I’d found some good bits, including a French brass wall light and an ostrich egg lamp. I packed them in the car while I went on to the next area, then returned to ! nd them gone. I was gu"ed.’ The thieves had overlooked one of her best ! nds, though: some Italian Lucite resin lights. ‘ Maybe they thought they were plastic. I don’t think they were very discerning,’ she says.
Samantha’s home, with its two-tone hallway and large kitchen- diner at the back of the house, is the perfect platform for the pieces she decides to keep. But the Thirties property has come a long way since the couple moved in. ‘ When we bought this place, it felt depressingly old-fashioned. There was an arched brickwork ! replace and lots of wall-to-wall carpet, which hid parquet #ooring in the hall,’ she says. ‘ The parquet stayed, but not much else.’
Samantha oversaw knocking through the skinny kitchen and living room at the back, adding an interesting detail at #oor level, where the kitchen #oor tiles meet the #oorboards. ‘ I wanted a cut-in e$ect rather than a hard line slicing the room down the middle,’ she says. In the hallway, however, there is crisp division at
work. Walls are painted white above the dado rail and in Railings by Farrow & Ball below, the e!ect "owing across doors and frames. ‘ I felt the need to do something radically di !erent from the previous fusty decor,’ she explains.
The dark mood of the hallway is balanced by brighter shades in the living spaces, most dramatically in the shape of a luxuriously quilted Togo sofa. ‘ We needed a shot of colour and this raspberry velvet is just the job,’ she says. Samantha originally trained in fashion, but always did up houses on the side. She later switched to interiors, initially working for a design agency that specialised in #$ ing out hotels and restaurants before se$ ing up on her own. These days, however, she concentrates on running her shop. ‘ I prefer to source things that will give people their own inspiration, rather than doing it all for them,’ she says. Her shop on Norman Road is a popular destination for set designers, as well as homeowners in search of something unusual. ‘ Whether people are buying for their own home or to provide authenticity to a # lm set, it’s lovely to o!er something a li$ le bit special that captures their imagination.’
THIS PAGE Quirky details abound, including vintage shop signage and neon lights; classic Eames DSR chairs surround the Saarinen-style table. RIGHT The sleek herringbone tiling on the chimney breast provides an unexpected contrast to an old French mirror; in the study, a pair of mid-century Italian chairs were reupholstered in a warm pink velvet, similar to the sumptuous Togo sofa in the living room; Samantha in front of a painting by Rachel Glittenberg, which is next to a French, Sixties brass palm leaf floor lamp.
THIS PAGE An antique taxidermy deer sits at the foot of the stairs. It is one of several similar pieces placed in unexpected spots around the house. The walls below the dado rail are painted in Railings by Farrow & Ball; the bathroom walls are tiled floor to ceiling, providing a retrostyle backdrop for the vintage cosmetic display props.
RIGHT Marble tiles set into the floor, flush with the floorboards, create a ‘mat’ on which the spectacular copper bath sits. Samantha stores her shoes on an old ladder that leans against the wall. The neon sign is a favourite find from an antiques fair.
One wall in the master bedroom is papered with a design by Deborah Bowness, the bed is Vivaldi by Stuart Jones, and the bedside tables were from a junk shop in Hastings; the vintage note in Tippi-Rose’s bedroom (left) came from a fellow antiques dealer. The bed is from Eras of Style and the pretty pink wallpaper is Rousseau by Cole & Son.