The delightful haven of Baker & Gray
Walking into the Notting Hill showroom of bespoke interior designer Baker & Gray you are instantly drawn into an Aladdin’s cave of unique fabrics, furniture and home accessories. On a quiet, grey February afternoon, Sarah Baker, the driving force behind the company, invited us into the heart of the company to view her inimitable collection and talk about how it all began.
Rather than being drawn into the trends of interior design publications, Sarah has delved into her personal experiences and natural surroundings to influence her designs, resulting in a warm British heritage aesthetic with intriguing drops of exoticism. Prints are reminiscent of a Georgian manor’s drawing room, traditionally decorated in a transcontinental fashion and one particularly stand out print is the ‘Beetle Spot,’ highlighting the conventional standards of baroque style.
The showroom itself exudes an idyllic quality that is not often seen in modern interior design. Stowed away in Notting Hill like a precious gem waiting to be found in your mother’s jewellery box, Baker and Gray is a pleasant surprise and quiet treasure. The surrounding markets supply a contemporary vibe to the location; one of the key aspects that attracted Sarah to move her business here in the first place.
“Looking for the perfect space is not always easy, however once it was found, things moved very quickly. It is hard to believe a year has passed so quickly here in Notting Hill. Ultimately we are where we should be in with a beautiful shop in a great location and luckily for us we have a garden at the rear of the shop which you step into through lovely French windows… it’s fabulous.”
Sarah has not always worked and lived in Notting Hill. Remaining true to her brand, the fabric collection is originally inspired by the flora and fauna in Africa. “The collection is bespoke, therefore manufactured to clients specifications whether it is for windows, walls or furniture with an occasional colour tweak to a beetle or bee.” Sarah tells us. “After all Baker & Gray strive to provide longevity within its high quality products and service, giving the owner an element of reluctance to ever get rid of it.” If our office were anything like this showroom, we would never leave work!
At Baker & Gray, each project is unique and Sarah enjoys working with clients who aren’t necessarily starting from scratch; “They have a room they want to change or update, from the clients brief and utilising the space available decision needs to be made of what items from the Baker & Gray collection are going to be used. It is exciting to develop a new project for someone.”
Interestingly, Sarah’s design experience started in the fashion world; ”When living and working abroad with my family, I designed and manufactured a prêt a porter collection in linen, silk and suede. I set up an embroidery workshop, embroidering all the flora and fauna of Africa on to smoking jackets and waistcoats.” On returning to England, the embroidery story evolved into an interiors range, starting in a retail outlet in Wiltshire to the bright streets of Notting Hill. “Colour and texture are the foundations of my inspiration.” she says. “I get further inspiration from antique textiles, European architecture and old English country houses but to pin point it exactly is challenging as my mind is constantly ticking”
Having said this, Sarah emphasises the importance of having a vision and sticking to it. “I set up Baker & Gray 8 years ago this March and it’s taken a good 10/12 years to develop it.” What started off with a few cushions and lampshades has grown into a collection that is loved and treasured.
Of course, it is impossible to remain in the company of a successful businesswoman without asking if she has any advice to aspiring entrepreneurs; “Be very single-minded about what you want to do. Have a vision and stick to it and keep on going. Listen to your accountant (laughs) but you have to be prepared to take a risk and you have to be totally committed to your vision. Even though there will be times when you may have doubts, you have to ask yourself; what would I be doing if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing? If the answer is this, then you are doing the right thing!” says Sarah.
Before we let Sarah go (for this time) we’re keen to find out what’s next for Baker & Gray. We love the excitement behind Sarah’s eyes as she continues to speak about the future of the business; “There are new clients coming in here regularly with new opportunities and I’d also, in time, like to expand the collection.” And one last snippet of interior design advice; “If you see something you love, regardless of the price, buy it! If you don’t have the money, save up until you are able to buy the item, because if you really love it, you will always love it!”
To see Baker & Gray’s entire bespoke collection, visit their website www.bakergray.com or call their Notting Hill showroom: 0207 2432558