Amanda Paterson of VerdeGris
I was brought up in Kent, studied French and Spanish at Exeter and worked a couple of years in London before moving to Brussels where I first worked in the European Commission and then in the European Parliament for 11 years. In Brussels weekends were spent digging around flea markets and nosing through junk stores until my husbands work moved us from Brussels to Barcelona.
Having left my job in Brussels and with several small children it seemed to be my opportunity to escape office life and do something I really wanted to do so I looked for a course in furniture restoration in Barcelona and after a couple of years at the school of restoration I started out on my own.
You have to have a passion for it, I love furniture, I love decoration, I love the way a piece of furniture can speak volumes about its owner, that first glimpse of someones personality when you enter a home. I like my furniture to be accessible, for me decor is a very flexible thing, you have to feel the freedom to change, not to be anchored to a piece that cost so much you feel tied to it and unable to rearrange.
There are phases to my work. The first is the thrill of finding the right piece, the best pieces are the unobvious treasures, you need to see through the grime, the add ons, the problems, the accumulation of revamps it may have gone through over the years and see the potential. I love a good haggle! Next is assessing the repairs and judging how far to go with a piece, to take it right back and restore it as fully as possible or often just to peel back the layers and let its story show through, the pieces I enjoy most are defined by their quirks and what some might see as defects which give them their character and ultimately their value to me. I get immense satisfaction in having brought something back to life, restoring it’s dignity in a way and ultimately seeing the right piece go to the right home.
I have a passion for tables, a table is at the heart of everything, everyone gathers around a table, a table gathers an incredible aura over the years, I like to feel it has lived many stories, I try to respect that when bringing it back to its best. The objective is not to bring it back to perfection but to allow it to show its personality. The right table in the right room is not only an essential but a true object of beauty, start with the table, the rest will follow
Working within Mercantic, in Sant Cugat, has been an interesting experience, it is a centre of reference in the area for antiques and decor of all styles and as such attracts a very diverse clientele, varied in taste, nationality, appreciation, budget etc. You get to see very culturally defined attitudes to furniture appeal and purchase. A Sunday morning in Mercantic is always colourful.
There’s plenty of dirt and grime, heaving things around, many kilometres travelled sourcing pieces, constant learning and some delicate line treading with customers, a fair bit of frustration etc. I wouldn’t do anything else, you have to love the work, put yourself into it and your mark on it and enjoy being surrounded by beautiful things on a daily basis.