With a passion for retro and vintage furniture and design, Sarah Peterson is a designer with a difference: creating one-off bespoke upcycled pieces. Based in the mezz level in Watson's on Perth High St for almost two years, Sarah recently opened her own standalone shop on Princes St that she’s filled with treasures of all kinds.
Sarah was based in the mezz level in Watson's on Perth High St for almost two years, before recently opening her own standalone shop on Princes St.
"The feeling as I opened the doors to my new shop was a mixture of excitement and trepidation but a few days in I feel relieved and thankful." Fast forward 18 months, and it’s only been upwards from here.
“Along with the obvious highlight of getting married this time last year, business is good and my customer base has been growing well. The nice wee cluster of shops we have close by certainly helps to attract shoppers down to Princes Street!”
Many of you will remember Sarah Peterson from her time at Caithness Glass; she started with the Perth institution at the tender of age of 14 and worked there until she was 21 when she headed for the bright lights of London to study a ceramics and glass degree in Buckinghamshire. She returned to Perth and Caithness Glass where she stayed for a staggering 20 years. Within this time she was in charge of Art Glass design for Dartington Crystal and designing among many other original works, the Chamber of Commerce Star Awards for four years.
Sarah then decided she needed a change but wasn't sure what direction she might take and with a little more time on her hands she began to explore further her hobby of upcycling. A couple of years before Sarah had recovered and painted an old green chair that her Granny had given her mum when she and her twin brother were born. After she’d worked her artisan’s magic touch on it the chair looked fantastic and easily had another 50 years of life in it!
“It looked really good and people started asking me to do things for them. Lots of my design skills from years at Caithness crossed over – it was just the medium that changed. As long as I was deigning something I was happy.
I quickly realised I could move my hobby into a business and began looking in charity shops for bits of furniture I could transform. We like to change things far more often than past generations did and there are so many great pieces of good quality furniture just thrown out. By sourcing my core products in this way I feel like I’m running an ethical business and doing my bit to help cut back on landfill and waste. It also means that people get a genuine, original piece as no two items are ever the same.”
Sarah's bright designs and quirky pieces are all one-off originals with a very distinct brand feel to them. All of the individual items have their own name and come with a certificate of authenticity and a description of the piece before and after. It is a beautiful, fun idea that gives a personality to each and every table, set of drawers and chair.
“Everything is named – people love it! They like to see the work and craftsmanship that has gone into an item and I think this gives it a real stamp of originality. We’ve had an Eleanor, and Oscar and a Pixie and these little details show our customers that we really care.”
This attention to detail runs through everything Sarah does and as well as the furniture she also creates original print, framed affordable art. Woodland animals, birds and cats are drawn freestyle and recreated on the computer before being printed and hand-signed. They’re limited to 25 of each print so although you’re paying as little as £25 each, you can be sure you won’t find them hanging in every bar, doctors surgery and beauty room you go into!
“I wanted to create art that people could afford and that they’d be happy to hang in their homes. The prints all blend with the brand image from the furniture and I’ve also designed these original cushions and lampshades which I produce with lovely fabrics. Because I can only source small amounts of each print, you know what you’re getting isn’t going to be mass market.”
Sarah also offers a commission service and after chatting to her customers, she’ll recreate the vision they have to produce a wholly original item. Sometimes it’s an old piece that they already have but often she’ll source something to their specifications and transform it into something new and unique.
The reaction to her work has been fantastic and she’s enjoying being back in front of her customers again, chatting to them and being creative.
“I love the idea of returning an old unloved piece of furniture to a new home and seeing the look on people’s faces when you transform their tired old chairs or tables into something new and fresh. Having my own shop right here on Princes St was important for that reason – I wanted to meet my customers, to chat to them and let them see the items up close so they could get a real idea of quality and finish. You can browse online, but coming in for a look round and a feel is a much better way of buying art and upcycled designs.”
Recently, Sara has also been working with the daytime BBC program, 'Money for Nothing'. "I have had a number of appearances on the show and my projects have all been well received!”
“The show has helped attract customers from all over Scotland with a number of visitors coming from as far away as Derby and Teesside to my shop to buy from me. I’ve also shipped products to the Shetlands, England and even as far as Australia.”
“With the extra work, I’ve managed to engage the help of family members to help in the business and if the business continues to grow we may have to expand further.”
Sarah points out where she’s used items such as hand knitted cardigans to cover cushions, gorgeous necklaces to trim lampshades and retro fabrics to create gorgeous sewing boxes for other craftspeople.
Personally, I am in love with a set of drawers called Zoe and have spent the last few days imagining these gorgeous coloured drawers sitting pride of place in my girl den!
Full contact details for Sarah's Attice can be found on our directory here >>>
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