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  • Sharon Lomas

home stories - the vintage sellers at home, part 2 Paula Gleeson at Saltmill Vintage

Finding a vintage treasure which is both characterful and functional is a treat. I do love purely decorative items but being able to use something for a practical use (intended or repurposed), just makes it all the more special for me. Practicality added to beauty is often all the justification I need to buy something.

I love vintage storage, old trunks, suitcases, wooden cabinets and am always drawn to anything with little drawers in it. When I get to build my dream kitchen it will be a mismatch of old wardrobes refashioned into larder cabinets, perhaps an old science bench as an island with free standing dressers, rather than all fitted units. One day...

watchmakers drawers wooden cabinet small vintage drawers
watchmakers drawers from Saltmill Vintage

I share this love for vintage storage with Paula from Saltmill Vintage. I met Paula on Instagram a couple of years ago and was instantly in love with the quirky pieces she had in her home, with an impeccable eye for finding a unique piece.

So when Paula started up her new business I knew I was going to become a customer.

You will find many quirky pieces at Saltmill Vintage and with Paula's love of wooden furniture and an obsession with drawers you wont ever be far from unique vintage storage solution.

vintage wooden scratch made drawers desktop storage

Paula sources so many unusual items like the vintage green metal tennis ball hopper I now have as a plant stand - in all my years of fairs and trawling the junk shops I've never come across an old one like this before.

Paula also sources and restore vintage lighting. When I missed out on a vintage EXIT sign Paula had for sale ( you have to be quick to catch her stock), she kindly sourced another one for me a few months later. It has been beautifully restored with authentic details such as the twisted retro flex.

vintage green metal tennis ball hopper collector
vintage tennis ball hopper
vintage EXIT safety light

To further our snoop, I mean take a home tour of the vintage sellers, Paula has kindly agreed to let us see behind the keyhole of her home where she effortlessly mixes old with new. If I could shop Paula's home (she wont let me I've already asked) then I would go straight for the gorgeous green chest of drawers in her bedroom. Over to you Paula...

paula gleeson saltmill vintage
Paula aka Saltmill Vintage


I am 57, I live in South Derbyshire with my husband Martyn, who shares my love of vintage and is my hunting partner on buying trips. I have 3 grown up sons and one grandson Oscar, who I adore. I have a life long yearning to live near the sea (having always lived at the furthest point in Britain from any coastline), which we both hope will happen in the not too distant future. When I was younger I wanted to be a visual merchandiser, however I never followed my dream. My love of styling and dressing things has always spilled over into my home and I have always been very interiors conscious. I once had a delivery man come into a previous house, which was during my sleek, minimal, straight lines period and ask if he could take a photograph of our lounge as he felt like he was on the Starship Enterprise!! I'm still not really sure if he meant that as a compliment or not.

jungle wall hanging green bedding vintage stool and apple crate shelf

How I Got Into Vintage

Most of my working life has been spent in retail and admin roles. I was working part-time in a local interiors store until May 2019 when I was made redundant. Both Martyn and myself have always had a bit of an obsession for quirky things for our home, always coming back from holidays with old industrial items and random things that wouldn't normally be found in the home, then re-purposing them or simply using them as decorative items. I

In the 90's we bought a load of bird boxes, painted them and hung them in a row in the lounge. When we were furnishing an extension to our home, we returned from a week away in Brighton with a pale blue 1950's barbers chair for the sitting room. So when I found myself out of work our youngest son and his wife asked me one day, what I was messing about at looking for a job when I could start my own vintage home business.

I had wanted to start my own business for a long time and this gave me the kick up the backside that I needed. I started very hesitantly with £250 for stock and bucket loads (vintage buckets, of course) of passion and excitement.

vintage chippy paint chest of drawers foxed glass mirrors anglepoise lamp

green painted vintage chest of drawers wooden shoe lasts

How I describe my vintage home style

I would definitely say eclectic. I love lots of different styles, I sway heavily towards more industrial, utilitarian even Brutalist style. I like old wooden furniture, however I prefer it to have bruises and bits missing rather than being sleek and polished and recently I am falling in love with the painted, French farmhouse style too.

vintage taolirs dummy letter g light brooklyn tile vintage artwork

vintage glass medicine cabinet box brownie camera

My Favourite Vintage Period

I would say late Victorian, when everything was simple and somber, however also 1930's & 1940's, when things were more utilitarian, especially during the austerity of the post war years, when a lot of things were scratch built.

vintage chest anglepoise lamp vintage stool bowler hat

scratch made bench stool vintage

A Piece You Bought For My Business But Couldn't Sell

There have been a few, the perils of being a vintage dealer! One of my most loved, I bought a set of narrow scratch built French drawers from a lovely dealer that always has the most desirable pieces at the fairs. They are very rustic and have hooks and screws in place of the missing knobs, in fact they have probably always been the knobs! It was purchased with excitement to sell on. However I was obviously just a little too excited by them as they still reside in my hallway!

vintage wooden drawers scratch made

A Piece I sold In My Business and Always Regretted Not Keeping.

This was quite early on, when I first started. I bought, again French, a glass hairdressing salon sign. I sold it within a couple of days of buying it and have regretted it ever since! The owner of the salon was Mme Blugeon, it made me chuckle. I couldn't imagine I would dare let Mme Blugeon cut my hair. It was a fabulous sign in black glass!

vintage hairdressers sign

My Favourite Vintage Find

This one wasn't actually a find, it was a gift. As I was preparing to start my business and collecting together a few treasures to set me off, my daughter-in-law sent me a photo of the most amazing vintage double door first aid cabinet, that was in her mum and dads barn. Complete with the photo was a message saying 'Is this any good to you?'

Obviously my first excited thought was my new business venture, however when it turned up, it came with a message that I wasn't to part with it as it was a gift!! I am so pleased that I received that message, otherwise it would probably be featured in the paragraph above! It is most definitely one of my most treasured vintage pieces and features on my website and on my business cards too!

I will never part with it, despite being asked how much every time it features in a photo.

vintage first aid cabinet bathroom accessories

Thank you Paula for sharing your home and its vintage treasures. I love how Paula has made a home with vintage, she has such a knack for mixing the old with new and sourcing one of a kind furniture that is both beautiful and useful. You can shop direct at Saltmill Vintage and to follow Paula's Instagram click HERE


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