Cheshire Bespoke Interiors and Design - the Macclesfield firm transforming unwanted furniture

PUBLISHED: 19:03 24 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:13 20 February 2013

Claire Arrowsmith with a selection of her striking work

Claire Arrowsmith with a selection of her striking work

A Macclesfield woman is transforming unwanted furniture into covetable pieces - in a not dissimilar way to generations of her family before her <br/>Wordsrdsrds BY EMMA MAYOH <br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON

Claire Arrowsmiths route to a successful career wasnt exactly what you call conventional. The 23-year-old from Macclesfield was due to start a fashion degree at Mid Cheshire College but the day before, she abandoned the plan.

She said: I love fashion and at first I thought I wanted to go down that route. But then I realised that there were so many people already doing it.

I had always loved interiors and designing and I had always enjoyed using my sewing machine. Im a creative person but I wanted to do something completely different.

The gamble paid off. After deciding not to continue with formal education, Claire began working with her dad, Paul, who runs Arrowsmith Antiques and Restoration in Waterside Mill, Macclesfield. She spent several years learning the traditional skills needed to restore items of furniture to becoming things of beauty. But in 2011, she set up her own business, Cheshire Bespoke Interiors and Design.

Today Claire, who shares her dads workshop, restores classic English, Italian and French pieces from the 1920s to the 1970s. Rather than restoring them to their original design, she gives them a completely new look.

She said: In their original form they may be unfashionable but I turn them into chic, bespoke pieces. The shapes show what era they are from which I think is great.

I love restoring old furniture because it brings a piece back to life and gives it another chance. I took an interest in art deco and restored furniture and it was that which made me think about doing something a bit different. So many interiors at the moment are the same shabby chic design and I didnt want to do that.

Claire, who takes private commissions and works with interior designers as well as selling the furniture she finds, uses techniques learned from her dad as well as different effects to give a different look.

This includes using a chemical gold and silver leaf to create a striking look. Her work, which ranges from 500 to 3,000, includes anything from tables and chests of drawers to bedside cabinets, headboards and bed frames. She can also do upholstery, makes cushions and Roman blinds and use traditional techniques like French polishing and brass inlay work.

She said: I love challenging myself. Using things like the chemical leaf makes something look very different and is a really effective technique.
It takes a lot of patience but I really enjoy what I do. Its brilliant that I spend my working life doing something I love. I would love people to look at my work and recognise it as a Claire Arrowsmith. That is my dream.

Being creative with furniture started a few generations back in Claires family. Her great grandfather, Cyril Wright, restored antique furniture. Her dad Paul learned the ropes from him and Claire has now been using those same traditional skills. Her uncle, Mark Arrowsmith, runs Twigg Joinery of Cheshire in Macclesfield and her brother, David, is an accomplished joiner at that company.

She said: I feel good about doing something that has run in the family but Im doing my own thing as well. Its great to have my own business.
My friends are excited for me too. I think when they went off to university I probably did feel a bit envious. But it has been worth it and definitely paid off.

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