The Found Object

Olive Wakefield

Writer, collector and founder of PIECES London, Olive Wakefield, shares her approach to curating objects for her home and why, for her, there are no rules when bringing a space to life…

Talk us through the process of curating objects for your home?

No object ever stays in the same place for long at my house. I’m in a constant state of re-arranging. I tend to have a couple of focal-point pieces in each room- often vintage or pre-loved- and then I layer the space with textiles or artwork that riff off those hero pieces. I have been known to repaint a room just to match a new purchase rather than the other way round…

Are you a ‘casually browse to see what’s out there’ or ‘hunt high and low for the exact thing in my mind’ kind of vintage shopper?

A bit of both. I often find the best things when I’m not single-mindedly pursuing a niche item. But I also have a million alerts set up.

What type of object do you have most of in your home?

I can’t seem to resist mantlepiece trinkets like miniature ceramics, boxes, saucers and candlesticks. 

How would you describe the art of mixing vintage objects and modern pieces for your home?

There are no rules! A willingness to experiment can help avoid that overly-curated look. Often people feel they should commit to one style, for example midcentury, throughout their whole house which I don’t subscribe to. I love a melting pot of styles. For me, it doesn’t get better than the interiors at Flamingo Estate. The owner Richard Christiansen has pulled in so many references and design eras; colours and textures. It's possible he has the best kitchen in the whole world.

Museum curators have to make a ‘case for acquisition’ before bringing a new piece into the museum. What is the weirdest and most wonderful object you’ve made a case for bringing into your home?

I actually once did a Power Point presentation for my husband in a desperate attempt to convince him I should have this one-off, extortionately priced (and proportioned) bathtub. Mercifully for him, I didn’t win the auction. Otherwise, my ceramics collection can raise a few eyebrows… 

Marie Kondo recommends ‘does it spark joy’ as a mantra for deciding which things deserve a place in your home, do you have your own mantra or rules for curating objects?

“High / Low” is the overriding theme in my home. I love kitsch, sometimes garish, things but I try to offset them with investment pieces that are more elevated. My style has been described as “experimental.”

Is there any piece of homeware or furniture you’ve found over the years that was a real diamond in the rough? How did you bring it back to life?

I think it’s possible to transform most things with the right fabric, paint or hardware. I found a hopeless looking cupboard with glass panels which I repainted and made little curtains for and it’s one of my favourite items now.

Can you tell us a little bit about PIECES and how it began?

PIECES started as a space to bring together my love of interiors, writing and vintage. I’m a journalist by trade and so the mailout, as well as Instagram, is my place to spotlight all the incredibly talented independent makers and designers I’ve connected with over the years. 

Greatest vintage find:

A towering wavy-edged, leaner mirror. It’s brilliantly bonkers. I call it my disco mirror.

Most prized possession:

Apart from my kids’ impressionist art, a linen tablecloth from 1938, hand-embroidered with signatures of wedding guests in all different colours; a present for the bride and groom, I was told.

Oldest object in your home:

Framed Victorian lace doilies my mum gave me.

Newest object in your home:

An olive green-check, porcelain plate with a hand-painted fish on it by Bode. I love their use of heirloom motifs and vintage fabrics in their designs.

Antique hunting in real life or online:

IRL if possible. It’s such an advantage to be able to see both the condition and proportions of an item before you commit.

An object you’re currently on the hunt for:

A vintage freestanding bath with bun feet for my dream en-suite.

Best place for vintage homewares in London (that you almost don’t want to tell anyone about):

Not so-secret but The Old Cinema, Alfie’s market, Retrouvius and Edition 94 always have great one-offs. There is such a great community of Instagram sellers now. My favourites include; @_ocu_lus_, @shopmantel, @byalicehome, @lot.fifteen, @tiwa_select and also @510_laundry- for their beautiful vintage textiles.

Follow Olive: @pieceslondon_

Olive's Wishlist: