Toby Lorford, owner and managing director of Lorfords, had been commuting from London to the Cotswolds for years. By a slice of luck, he left London just in time to beat the stay-at-home order… Catch up on how he got on with an empty flat, several tins of Edward Bulmer paint and spare time on his hands to create a new living space for him, his partner Kate, and their dalmatian Florence.

For several years now, I’ve been living in London and commuting almost daily to Lorfords in Tetbury. Most mornings Florence, our dalmatian, looks at me as if to say…’Really? Have you seen the time?’ The commute was beginning to take its toll on all of us. So, sat at Charles de Gaulle after a great trip to Deco Off and the Paris flea markets, Kate, my partner, and I finally made the difficult decision to move back West. It would give us more time to work but also more time to travel. We began the slow process of packing and sorting – and looking for somewhere to live.

Swapping our spacious London house for a tiny studio flat that I’d maintained in Tetbury just wasn’t practical for us (not forgetting Florence). Luckily a friend offered me a larger flat – which also happened to be 50 yards from our antique shop on Long Street.

How lucky were we? Within a week of firming up the move, travel restrictions were imposed in Italy and the pandemic started to take hold in Europe. Just a week before the final moving date, stay-home orders were issued in the UK and we left London – packing and sorting far from finished, but everything thrown in a couple of lorries.

With lockdown restrictions in place my commute would no longer have been viable or acceptable. I also needed to ensure that I was as close to the business as possible to help guide it through the commercial challenges of the crisis. We made it just in time!

So, with an empty flat, an almost unlimited supply of paint (huge thanks to the wonderful Edward Bulmer Natural Paints) and a shop full of beautiful handmade furniture and antiques literally a stone’s throw away, we had some work to do.

Despite having to leave our lovely home in London we were excited by this opportunity and would like to share it with you – if you’re interested that is!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be showing you what we’ve done to the flat, the furniture, art and objects that we’ve chosen and explain why we’ve chosen them.

For now, I’ll leave you with the starting point… On removing the old carpets and sheet boarding to make the floorboards flat, we found the most wonderful layer of worn old paint across parts of the living room. Now those of you who know me will be well aware that my first love in antiques was for original painted English furniture. And my partner, Kate, is an artist whose passions and practice include found objects. We umm’d and ahh’d over spending hours hand-scrubbing the boards with white spirit and soap to preserve the texture and finish rather than sanding and overpainting.

Of course, the painstaking approach won! So here are our favourite sections of knackered floor… the canvas on which the room will be built… and a few hints at the layering of textures that will be coming to our new home on Long Street.