Once something of a shabby backwater, these days Pimlico Road, SW1 is undeniably posh.
It’s a short street full of independent shops with fronts in fashionably muted shades and bearing the names of an intriguing variety of interior designers, makers and antiques dealers. Some stores you can only enter after pressing the bell. It can be intimidating — but stick with it.
In shady Orange Square, aka Mozart Square, the Saturday morning farmers’ market has colourful stalls of fruit, fresh pasta, free-range eggs, meat, fish, artisan breads and cheeses. It closes at 1pm and on Saturdays many of the shops are closed, too. Just a few stay open to show off the authentic British craft techniques used when making reproductions of popular originals.
Meet Chistopher Howe at No93 whose hand-carved Irish Pawfoot Bench, his first foray from art into antiques/furniture 30 years ago, is an enduring success — the benches are in the National Gallery.
Other copies of classic chairs evoke Chippendale, Strawberry Hill Gothic, Arts & Crafts and Victorian/Edwardian upholstery.
New downstairs is a kitchen by Plain English in Suffolk handmade in mellow, chunky rescued pitch pine with antique knobs and pulls. Laden with Royal Staffordshire ceramics is "possibly the longest dresser ever".
Next door, behind a life-size 18th century horse, is Jamb (95-97 Pimlico Road), a wide and surprisingly deep antique shop which owner Will Fisher has filled with quirky furniture, lanterns, mirrors, urns, busts and even a couple of stuffed penguins. He can also copy his unique cache of antique fireplaces in ancient marbles, hand-finished to look as old as you like. Or go for a more sober stone, from quarries the Romans used, such as Bath and Portland.
Plate-glass double doors and a handsome sweep of windows mark Linley of London, where David Linley, Earl of Snowdon, shows off furniture in fine veneers, with a fitted kitchen in the basement (60 Pimlico Road). The beautiful London Skyline marquetry panel is a must-see, with 20,000 individual pieces, priced £75,000. For less than £100, buy photo frames, door wedges or whisky tumblers.
At Soane Britain, newly "refreshed" by founder/owner Lulu Lytle, find inspiring arrangements of furniture and fabrics (50-52 Pimlico Road).
An august line-up of interior decorators includes long-established Jane Churchill. More recently arrived is Robert Kime, the "royal decorator". At 89-91 Pimlico Road is Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler, arbiter of "country house" style, where exquisite antique and modern cameos are set against rich wall finishes and handsome curtains.
Rather than "shops", these are showcases or studios for the designers within. However, interior designer Paolo Moschino (trading as nicholashaslam.com at 202 Ebury Street) has open doors at his corner shop with very special lamps and classic silk lamp shades, plus stylish furniture, gifts galore and a nifty line in Belgian handmade shoes. His separate fabric shop is at 10-14 Holbein Place for reliably chic designs.
Furniture-maker Russell Pinch is a newbie, at 46 Bourne Street. It's lined with perfect scale models of his work, with its "pared-back" aesthetic.
Also new is Cox London, where sculptors Nicola and Christopher Cox have channelled their artistry into furniture and lighting, hand cast in their own foundry (194 Ebury Street).
Fab for fabrics
Luke Irwin sells handmade rugs fairly made in Nepal, based on Roman mosaics (see the Mosaic collection at 20-22 Pimlico Road) .
Bennison (16 Holbein Place) screen prints about 500 designs from £175 a metre, from the archive of founder Geoffrey Bennison (1921–1984).
Christopher Howe's other little shop at 36 Bourne Street does authentic mini-prints on cotton or linen, with matching papers, while de Le Cuona at 24 Pimlico Road excels in weaves in well-coloured natural fibres.
Hilary Batstone (8 Holbein Place) has a soft-edged edit of antique furniture. Nearby, her daughter Rose Uniacke has a burgeoning collection of her own interiors editions. Her signature slender bronze bamboo shoots appear on bar stools, coat hangers, and even balusters to the basement (76 Pimlico Road).