Life After Lockdown - A catch up with shop owner Wendy Aldridge of Home Place

By Ciara Elliott 29-06-2020
Life After Lockdown - A catch up with shop owner Wendy Aldridge of Home Place

Floor to ceiling dark walls, vintage furniture and off-beat artwork all blend to give Omagh girl Wendy Aldridge's East London home a sophisticated yet laidback look. She's been spending lockdown here with husband James and their three children, Ida (10), Arlie (7) and baby Elodie (16 months). We caught up with her about how what she's been spending the last few months of quarantine and how she sees business and home life moving forward now...

Image Credit: Jack Barnes, taken as part of a community project to raise funds for Walthamstow food bank Eat or Heat 

Hi Wendy. Thanks for talking to us. We'd love to know how you've spent your lockdown?

Haha - spinning plates!  Juggling homeschooling with our two older kids  (7 and 10) alongside a very energetic toddler, whilst also running a business and my husband working full time (albeit from home which has been a huge help) has made for some fairly hectic days and weeks. We have muddled through as best we can - always trying hard to retain a sense of humour amidst the madness!

And how has it been business wise?

Business has been really good, it was pretty slow at the start but picked up in the weeks following and May was a very strong month indeed. I think people being at home more has resulted in many doing work to their living spaces that may have been put off in the past. Prints purchased to fill wall spaces, perhaps not noticed so much pre lockdown and there seems to be a definite trend in people using the time at home to be a bit more green fingered, so planters have been proving popular as well. We’ve also taken a lot of gift orders. People are sending friends and relatives something to cheer them up in the absence of being able to see them properly.

Is there anything new you’ve learned about your home during the last few months?

I’ve learned how much I love our kitchen - despite the cupboard and back doors appearing to constantly be covered in small sticky hand prints, it’s a sign of how much we’ve used the space to cook, bake and hang out together as a family these last few months, which has been lovely.

The large red vintage lights in Wendy's kitchen were reclaimed from an old gym and found at Retrouvious. Pic Dave Cleveland

One of Wendy's favourite features in her kitchen are the stainless steel worktops that are made by her dad's company back in Omagh. Pic Dave Cleveland.

Are there any spaces you are using more now than before?

Probably the garden - we lived here for over five years before getting round to converting it from a completely barren concrete backyard into what we have today, featuring a lawn bordered with terrazzo paving, BBQ seating area and trampoline (a frantic purchase in week two of lockdown before they became like gold dust!) and have thanked our lucky stars everyday of the last few sun filled months, that we got all that work done before lockdown kicked in.

The beautiful terrazzo tiles in Wendy and James' garden are from a company who specialise in architectural and design projects called Structural Skins

Any ideas on what you would change at home if you could?

Loads! We’ve been in our current house for over seven years and our style has evolved so much since doing it. We’d love to update many of the rooms, however we run two Holiday Lets (one in Ramsgate on the Kent coast and one in Porto, Portugal’s second city) and the last few years, all of our time and spare money has been spent renovating and furnishing them. We definitely have several more projects in us but whilst the kids are small and we have so much else going on, I’m not sure our current home is one of them, we’ll see!

What lessons do you think you will take away?

We’d like to retain a bit more of a slower pace of life and just appreciating spending more time together as a family. Although it’s been full on at points, there have been some very precious memories made during this time, which I think we will look back on fondly.

How do you see the pandemic affecting your business - and retail generally - moving forward?

It’s very hard to know and I think it could go either way. On the one hand online retail has the potential to do very well, as a post COVID world is likely to see more and more people shopping from the comfort of their homes but all the uncertainty and a pretty severe looking recession looming is likely to take its toll on the retail industry as well as many others. We do however hope that the trend in recent years to buy from and support smaller, independent retailers will long continue. We have a really brilliant repeat customer base and work incredibly hard every single day to provide the absolute best possible customer service that we can. We are incredibly grateful for those who choose to buy from small, independents like us and always will be.
Visit Wendy's shop at Homeplace . New products, including these shell vases, from £16 each and artwork by Tiny Stories, £58, as pictured, are added all the time.
For more on Wendy's lust-worthy London home, scroll down...

This image of Wendy's house is one of the most shared living rooms on Pinterest. The chair is a green leather Mid Century piece by Swedish brand DeSede which was bought on Ebay. The artwork is by an artist called Aida and was purchased via print shop Nelly Duff . The desk is Mid Century French and came from a vintage shop.  Pic Dave Cleveland

One of Wendy's favourite pieces is the Josef Hoffman bentwood and woven cane chair in their upstairs bathroom. Pic Dave Cleveland


The reclaimed panelling in the family downstairs bathroom is from disused barns in India so has lots of tones running through it which give the room a really cosy and lived in feel. "I love how much of a statement it is for what can often be an overlooked but regularly used room in the house," says Wendy. Pic Dave Cleveland.

The reclaimed seats in the family hallway are from an old cinema in Belgium. The mirror is from an antique shop while the floor tiles are Topps Tiles. Pic Dave Cleveland.

‘The orange shade was a piece I purchased for the website but in some sort of serendipitous turn of events, when I unpacked it, the lamp that usually sat there had been moved to make way for an incoming Christmas tree," says Wendy " I plugged it in to see what it looked like lit up and realised it was absolutely perfect for the space. It hasn't moved since, haha!’ Pic Dave Cleveland.

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