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Our homes and how we use them…

Since the pandemic began, we are having to readjust our homes to give us space to focus in all areas of our life. It has never been so stretched, and we find ourselves in newly defined ‘work’ and ‘play’ zones.

This may change for some of us, and we will go back to our respective work locations, but for many it may become the norm. A recent Gartner study reflects this in a report commissioned in July last year.

Gartner Report : Company leader intentions regarding flexible working after COVID-19

Is it essential to commute if you can do everything you need to do via video calls, messaging, and phone calls? Do we really want to be doing a daily commute when it is not necessary and is not practical anymore?

In the last 12 months, the world has been tipped upside down. Perhaps a few positive changes that will come out of this can be beneficial for our health and wellbeing.

When we emerge from the current UK lockdown in mid-April it will be good to look at things with fresh eyes and ideas, taking all the above into account.

A good work/life balance is very important – with the emphasis on a healthy mind and body. It rates as one of the most important things we all crave. We want to feel comfortable, secure, and happy.

Our homes play a huge part in this. We are all trying to make use of every room, corner, surface to ensure we have the best living situation. If you have a room or area that is not used or has become a ‘dumping ground’ – take a moment to rethink how that space could be best utilised. If you need to sell off a few pieces of furniture to add a desk and shelving area in a corner to give that much needed work zone, now is the time to spring clean and refresh your rooms.

We have so many sites for selling second-hand items which is the ‘eco’ way of saving it from the tip. Once you start letting go of stuff, it becomes quite liberating. Especially if the result is a tidier, work friendly, comfy home. You will also get a little something for selling the item that can always be put aside towards the new desk, lamp or whatever!

In addition, if you are not using something and it is just in the way – you don’t even have to sell it on, as someone less fortunate may be delighted to have it for free.

So, what’s the advice from The Kauri Tree team?

Add what you need and take out what you don’t!  Be creative and only have things around you that you love. It will make you happy and content, and that can only be a good thing.

What’s hot and what’s not ?

Interior Design is a very personal choice, and not everyone will agree on the best practice. We can comment, however, on how we see things through our own business. We have now been trading for a couple of years and It is interesting to us, how some trends appear out of nowhere, or reappear and yet some never go away.
Pieces such as kitchen items, old wooden frames, vintage artwork, classic mirrors, vintage seating, and unusual lighting seem to be an ongoing theme for us, whereas other items like brown furniture, industrial pieces and the quirkier items are just starting to pick up. We are sure that if you asked 10 dealers of vintage, collectables or antiques they will all have a different take on it – which just makes it even more interesting for us all.
To a large extent, it depends on several things, such as the location, our clientele and sometimes, simply ‘what we can get our hands on’. We can never get enough good quality side tables, consoles, and garden items. It does seem that interior design trends are looking for the lovely combination of old and new, so this helps to drive demand on props and practical classic pieces that are out there.
We are sure – like all dealers – we are all drawn to what we like and sometimes we cannot help ourselves from buying random items that may not, in fact, be very commercial or practical. We can only hope that if we like it someone else might too. It’s not always great business sense, but it’s very rewarding to see unique pieces find their way to a new home.
We guess the key for us is going for quality, or something unusual, or an item that has a niche interior appeal. Where can we see it going, in someone’s house, garden, or shed? Can they use it today or can it be put to another use? This is the game we play and then we invest in the things that tick some or all the boxes.
So, coming back to what’s hot and what’s not…. Well in a nutshell and in our opinion, it is less about ‘antiques’ and more about the right ‘look’. It could be something made in 1970 which is only 51 years old, but the styling might be timeless, the quality and design is something that simply cannot be bought today.
In summary it doesn’t really matter if something is ‘hot’ or ‘not’ as it is asking the wrong question. You should be asking yourself the following questions: Is it well made ? Does it offer a use or function in the home ? Does it really appeal to you? If yes, then it is worth investing in.

Repair or despair……

The problem :

When our old sofas, chairs or footstools finally give out, many of us would think,
“Great, lets buy a new one!”. However, it can be sad to lose a ‘trusted friend’ that has offered comfort and support for so many years. The solution to this problem is simple – do not throw it out!

The solution :

Try to renovate the item to save it from going into landfill. You may need to adapt the style to suit your needs, but now is the perfect time to adjust the look and feel of your ‘old friend’.

You may need a firmer seat to give extra support or higher back cushions for added comfort. At the very least, new interiors can change the seating immediately.
Often, a valance or skirt on the base of a sofa can make it look more classic or formal, so if you are going for a more modern look, lose the valance and have a plain front. You may be able to change the colour and design of the leg to make it look less traditional. Try changing from a turned leg to a tapered leg. These are some things to consider if renovating – and they can completely change the look and feel of your old furniture.

Generally, renovations should cost around 75% the cost of new furniture. I am basing this on good quality frames that often have at least 25yrs warranty on them (but often last a lot longer than that.)
Springs may need changed, but a good upholsterer will always check thoroughly to ensure the complete item is sound. The items will come back to you as good as new, looking fresh with your new choice of fabric and design tweaks added. It is very rewarding when doing projects on old furniture as they really do get a second life.
So, if you are considering throwing out your old upholstery furniture, think again. The planet will thank you, and so will your bank balance ! Plus, good friends are hard to find so if you have one keep them close.

You can have a look at some of our renovated items in our store.

How to use upcycled items and antiques in the home…

Now, more than ever, we need to think about repurposing, renovating, and reinventing old pieces of furniture and homewares. The throwaway culture we are accustomed to is slowly dying and we are turning to more sustainable and eco-friendly options. It makes sense that we stop needless waste and enjoy using older pieces of furniture in our homes.
Often, older pieces of furniture were made to last with quality wooden frames and intricate details. They would have been very expensive in their day, resulting in an item that has been made with real craftmanship.
When you place an antique or upcycled piece of furniture in a room it can offer a unique look. It may have been painted, wallpapered, stencilled or just lovingly sanded and oiled. It can make a room feel lived in and offer an interesting feature in an otherwise plain room. If you decide to renovate an inherited chair or sofa, the fabric you choose might be quite modern – and this does work incredibly well with the older frames. Go bold, bright or patterned or if you prefer, then plain natural linens can also look great. Basically, have some fun with it!
You will often find the design of the more classic pieces of furniture offers unusual shapes or extra comfort due to high backs or recline of the item.
There are plenty of ways of incorporating recycled and antique furniture into a room – whether you have a modern, or period home. Be creative and add other interesting curiosities that mean something to you like an old picture, retro mirror or decorative vintage boxes. It must be personal, or you must be attracted to a particular item for it to work, in our opinion. Part of the fun is finding something that you fall in love with even in its shabby or unloved state. It is rewarding and you are doing your bit for the planet. Most importantly enjoy the challenge!!
So, if you have read my blog this far please do have a look at our online shop and find yourself a gem!

So, what exactly is a Kauri Tree ?

Agathis, commonly known as kauri or dammara, is a genus of 22 species of evergreen tree. The genus is part of the ancient conifer family Araucariaceae, a group once widespread during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, but now largely restricted to the Southern Hemisphere except for a number of extant Malesian Agathis

Description

Mature kauri trees have characteristically large trunks, forming a trunk with little or no branching below the crown. In contrast, young trees are normally conical in shape, forming a more rounded or irregularly shaped crown as they achieve maturity.

The bark is smooth and light grey to grey-brown, usually peeling into irregular flakes that become thicker on more mature trees. The branch structure is often horizontal or, when larger, ascending. The lowest branches often leave circular branch scars when they detach from the lower trunk.

The juvenile leaves in all species are larger than the adult, more or less acute, varying among the species from ovate to lanceolate. Adult leaves are opposite, elliptical to linear, very leathery and quite thick. Young leaves are often a coppery-red, contrasting markedly with the usually green or glaucous-green foliage of the previous season.

The male pollen cones appear usually only on larger trees after seed cones have appeared. The female seed cones usually develop on short lateral branchlets, maturing after two years. They are normally oval or globe shaped.

Seeds of some species are attacked by the caterpillars of Agathiphaga, some of the most primitive of all living moths.

Uses

Various species of kauri give diverse resins such as kauri gum. The timber is generally straight-grained and of fine quality with an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and rot resistance, making it ideal for yacht hull construction. The wood is commonly used in the manufacture of guitars and ukuleles due to its low density and relatively low price of production. It is also used for some Go boards (goban). The uses of the New Zealand species (A. australis) included shipbuilding, house construction, wood panelling, furniture making, mine braces, and railway sleepers.

Still here ? So why are we called “The Kauri Tree” , well it’s quite simple – we’re from New Zealand (but based in Witney) !