I admit it… I’m obsessed, infatuated and totally bonkers about anything vintage, retro, old, dusty and generally discarded. As a child growing up in the 70’s and 80’s retro is part of the territory. Some people grow out of it, to like sleek modern interiors. I can ‘ooh and aah’ over an episode of Grand Designs just like the next person, lapping up the modernist interiors that lie within… but I just can’t help thinking it’s all a little wasteful.

I was brought up in a household that had a rather tight budget, five kids in all to feed. However, we were lucky enough to have a tied cottage with my dad’s job. He was a gardener, in a beautiful secluded location on Ashdown Forest… the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh no less. Everything, where possible, was reused in our house:

  • Potato peelings boiled up to feed the chickens (I can still smell that stench as if it were yesterday)
  • Tights used as filters over the taps (as the water used to run a rusty brown from the old cast iron pipes) or to strain liquid from gone-off milk that was being made into cottage cheese

My parents are both war children so it was a strict ‘waste not want not’ policy in our house. If you didn’t eat it at dinner it was in the fridge for breakfast… yummy… cold liver and onions for brekkie. No wonder I’m vegetarian now! You would often find my dad making some hotch-potch contraption for the garden, out of old windows and discarded wood. ‘Bush DIY’ he called it. My big sister would get in on the act too. Entertaining us little ones with things she’d made out of leftovers, setting up treasure hunts and craft activities to keep us out of mischief. Well, I guess all of this must have rubbed off as I hate to see things go to waste and now I’m making a living out of it!

Retro in particular is my worst vice. When studying for my Ceramic Design degree I began to collect… well hoard might be a better word, retro ceramics. I love the shapes, textures, patterns and use of natural materials… I just love it!

Therefore, when we moved to North Wales from Stoke, where we had a large 1930’s four bed house with plenty of rooms with original features, like plate shelves to house my vast collection, I hit a problem. Our new home is a lot smaller, it has a vast array of outbuildings and my workshop to store things in but the actual house in significantly smaller. So there I am, trying to shoe-horn everything into it, because I can’t possibly part with any of it, it might be useful one day! Well that’s what I tell my husband, although to be fair he’s not much better… except his obsession is retro cars and I’ll tell you now they take up a hell of a lot more space… (hoorah, I win that argument!)

So I did what I know best. Took a step back and observed. I wasn’t even sure if the pieces I had accrued over the years would sit comfortably within the rustic interior of our new house. But I wasn’t going to let that bother me. When we viewed it, we just fell utterly head over heels in love with it – the history, age and feel of the house… So it was tough… it had tugged at our heart strings, we brought it and our stuff just had to try to fit in. But you know what?… It works, this mix of styles. Hence the retro meets rustic fusion of Hafotty Interiors.

I’ve popped a few pictures of the interior of our new home on my website. In them you can appreciate this fusion of styles and it shows how it really does work. I love the way it comes together to create a homely sense of time, of life, of a place that’s been lived in and loved. Ok, so I didn’t shoe-horn all my pieces in, trust me that would be silly, but I carefully selected those with the correct tone, scale and vibe for the house. I love to group objects together in clusters of varying scale and texture within them. Often throwing in quirky little pieces, to create a sense of fun and individuality.

My friend once brought one of the sea shell poodles in the pictures as a joke, insisting I put it in my house. Little did she know it would back-fire and I did… and have collected several more since. The thing to remember with interiors is never look at anything in isolation. Visualise it as part of a group of objects, a theme, a colour scheme and then place it there. On it’s own the poodle would border on kitch ridiculous but, in the right setting coupled with vintage pictures, handmade ceramics and appropriate tones it all starts to make sense. I guess my advice is if you really like it there’s usually a way you can make it fit… it’s just a matter of placement. Why hey, I believe that goes for anything in life! Play around until you get it right and remember to step back and observe it as a whole when you’re done. Have fun, be unique, be quirky and above all – be you.

Visit Hafotty Interiors (www.hafottyinteriors.co.uk) to browse through some of Ellie’s work