This week we caught up with the fabulous Kate MacKenzie from the Original Chair Company. Kate is a super creative, interior guru and spends her days breathing new life into peoples homes and furniture. Her love of both antiques and upholstery and a keen interest on interiors was what it took for Kate to start her business back in 2006. Working from their studio in Perthshire, they specialise in custom made bespoke seated furniture, as well as reupholstery of antique chairs and sofas.
Kate tells us all about her busy weeks and reminisces over a trip to New York and a great day dining at 63 Tay Street then heading off to Perth Races. She also loves a night in with a takeaway from Tabla and some fun family games with blind food tasting for the loser. We love this idea and might just have to adopt this forfit for our next family games night!
1. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
After usual family mayhem for us all to leave the house, I really enjoy walking the gorgeous Nerys, my black Labrador. Being in open countryside and putting the world to rights with my great friend is a great way to start any day!
The Original Chair Company is based at Perth Airport so when I arrive at the showroom I usually have some old tatty chairs to unload from the van, (our next restoration pieces!). Pop in to see our sewing lady and collect any finished curtains or blinds. Then a quick catch up with the upholsterers on current jobs.
Then a cuppa and catch up with Sarah, my colleague about work projects. I try and do the creative enjoyable parts of the job in the morning, perhaps putting together fabrics, wall coverings and furniture on an interior design project. The afternoons are mainly office bound or appointments with clients coming in or me visiting in their homes. Our clients often live in lovely pockets of Perthshire and beyond, so always enjoyable!
I come home to meet my daughter, Poppie (13yrs) from school, after catch up time it’s homework and for me, working from the kitchen table whilst preparing dinner. This always seems to be a time of day when the phone is red hot, so it can be quite stressful trying to work and be the mum at this time! My husband works in Edinburgh and after our busy days we relish our sit down time at around 9pm!
2. What signals the start of your weekend / days off?
I try and leave Friday free from commitments as this is a time of work catch ups, ready for the start of Monday, meeting with girlfriends for lunch or coffees or generally getting ready for the weekend. I used to be a teacher and Friday nights were always big fun nights out with your team, but now it’s a more simple way to start the weekend but just as enjoyable – a bottle of really good wine (my husband is my wine guru!), a take away from Tabla and a movie.
3. What makes for a perfect night in?
It would have to be at home with family and friends, good food (my husband is an incredible cook!) and good wine and games. Having a games night when the children (well now teenagers) are involved is always fun! Not sure how highly it rates on their ‘fun scale’ but they always seem to be laughing. I remember one recently where they brought back a childhood favourite - the blind folded food tasting for the poor loser of the game! I say poor because the fouler the food the better!
4. What makes for a memorable day or night out?
There’ve been many special days out on holidays but closer to home I always have fun going to the Races here in Perth.One particularly memorable time was just my husband and I for an escape day away together. We started our afternoon with a special champagne lunch at 63 Tay Street and then headed up to the Races for the afternoon, where we actually won some money!! Great fun and just the two of us.
5. Tell us about the weekend you’d love to live again?
I’d love us to go back to New York and re-live some of our times there. I’ve always said if I could squeeze another year into my youth I’d loved to have worked in NYC. We had a fabulous time staying with my brother-in-law and wife who lived there, back in 2014. A special weekend was the one where we went over to Staten Island on the ferry, toured the New York Design Centre (a dream for any interior enthusiast), spent a quiet time in the Central Library on 5th Avenue and finished the day with an evening at the Jazz Standard. I was blessed indeed!
6. And now your best ever day at work?
My best ever day at work was the first time I’d ever installed and put together an interior project for a client in Edinburgh. We’d taken a long time to get it right for them but my client was so pleased. It involved all fabrics, upholstered custom made furniture and restoring some of her own antiques. We also made all new curtains and blinds. I still get contacted by this lady when she needs something and she always says how happy these rooms make her feel!
I usually leave a little gift on my way out but on this first occasion she gave me a bottle of champagne which I enjoyed that night!
7. Any workday or weekend rituals?
One work day ritual I have is a bit silly but important to me. On a daily basis when I’m making a cup of tea at work I look at the words inside a card my late mum had written and given to me when I opened up the new showroom. It reminds me of how grateful I am. I enjoy my work immensely; I started this business with only £1500, and as I look down at our beautiful showroom it reminds me to count my blessings!
8. What’s in the perfect day off breakfast?
I just can’t see past good quality Gloagburn bacon, French toast and real maple syrup. We’ve got a great coffee machine, so that together with Steve Wright’s Sunday morning’s Love Songs make the perfect combo for me.
9. Any words of wisdom for us?
Words of Wisdom??? I’m still working on that one - just have as much fun as you can. If I don’t have one good belly laugh a day, my world’s not right!
The People, I have made the most incredible friendships here, could never move away now!
The outdoor lifestyle from wetsuits to wellies!
Where I live. Where else can you walk within 10 minutes in one direction to reach stunning open countryside and 10 minutes in the other direction and reach Marks and Spencers!