Luxe Life

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.

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