NO.8 TOBIAS VERNON : UP OUR STREET - 8 Holland Street’s neighbours, near and far

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8 Holland Street founder and our chief shop boy Tobias Vernon splits his time between London and a West Country cottage not too far from our second store reopening soon in Bath. Ahead of that, our contibuting editor Tom Morris takes a peek through the door of his cottage.

“I’ve always liked the idea of a dual place; the yin and the yang of somewhere in London with somewhere a bit more lowkey such as Somerset,” says Tobias. This has been the case for two years now, ever since he moved into this (appropriately) two-up, two-down cottage in the village of Mells. Opposing forces are ever-present here, where Morris & Co-style rush chairs and 19th-century mahogany sit next to 20th-century classics by the likes of Noguchi alongside Habitat. “It is true real countryside in some ways but there's nice hints of modernity too.”

 

Born in the West Country, Vernon would spend most summers in St Ives and sought that kind of rural escape after years living in London. This house is located in an estate village and was, like all its neighbours, created as living quarters for the local manor house. “It was a bit dank and gloomy when I got it. I painted it all white, threw sisal down and put the green industrial flooring in the kitchen. All these things helped changed the fabric of the building and it took on a whole new life very quickly,” he says.

 

Furniture wise, lots of the pieces stocked in the shops came in handy including Magistretti’s Selene chairs, FontanaArte mirrors and Sandra Blow prints. Tobias runs the interior design business attached to 8 Holland Street and keeping things simple here was a respite to the day job. “There are too many decisions to be made during the week, I find less is definitely more here at home. The more I can eradicate the need to think about a paint chart, the better,” he says. 

 

Things in the village, however, are going to notch up a gear with the opening of the 8 Holland Street General Store in Mells. Open Thursday to Saturday in the spring and summer and Saturdays in the autumn and winter, the shop will see the team play with more homeware, ceramics, books as well as local honey, melamine plate racks by neighbour Cosmo Fry and fresh cut flowers by Jess Smith of Flower and Land. “I wonder if I’ve tainted my rural idyll of being in a village by opening a large shop here,” he jokes. Certainly, there’ll be plenty of yin to the local yang for the summer.

 

My Ideal neighbour would be…
Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth in St Ives. I would have loved to be a fly-on-the-wall when they arrived from London in the 1940s. 
 
A house I’d like to live in is…
a stone-built island hideaway near the sea. Perhaps Sifnos, Syros or Tinos but I’m still exploring. 

Tomorrow I will...
remember to water, deadhead and stop the slugs destroying my foxgloves. I’m not at all green fingered but nurturing my garden brings me joy. 

 

WRITTEN BY 8 HOLLAND STREET CONTRIBUTING EDITOR TOM MORRIS 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JAMES MCDONALD

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