ocated just off High Barnet high street in North London is Applebee House, a showroom of not only vintage furniture but also exquisite handmade products such as candles, aprons, bags and much more. Applebee House is more than a vintage furniture shop!
To find out a bit more about Applebee House in Barnet I arranged and interview with Amy Applebee, one of the founders. We met in the showroom and the first impression I had was of someone very approachable and vibrant! We had a great chat about Applebee House and future projects for the business. I left the interview with a sense of knowing a lot more about her fantastic business. Amy was a breath of fresh air, so positive and so knowledgeable about vintage furniture!
Amy breathes Applebee House and, not only that, she does so much in the business. I think her day must have 48 hours! How can she fit so much in!
I invite you to read her interview to find out a bit more about Applebee House and Amy’s passion towards the business and love for vintage mid-century furniture. Thanks a lot Amy for kindly agreeing to the interview and giving me a bit of your time. It was a pleasure meeting you!
If you are not in London or near the shop, you can also buy from Applebee House shop on Etsy.
Could you introduce yourself? Tell us a little bit about your background
I am Amy Applebee and I together with my husband James we founded and run Applebee House in High Barnet, just off the high street.
I moved to London from Rugby in the Midlands to study interior design and after graduating I worked in companies such as The White Company. London is also where I met my husband James Applebee.
When did Applebee House get launched? What inspired you to start a vintage interior shop?
I absolutely love mid-century design, I am a very colourful person and I found that, although I was working at great companies, I wasn’t being creative enough. Furthermore, my father has his own business so I suppose I always wanted to do something for myself.
My husband had an unused space in his workshop in Barnet and he suggested I could start my own business there. I jumped to the opportunity and we created what is now Applebee House.
James is a master carpenter and trained me about restoration. I essentially was his apprentice! I have learned so much from him.
We finally launched on Saturday 7th April 2018… yes I am very precise!! Applebee House was born as a business specialising in mid-century furniture and we also had a bit of homeware. However, this year we are mainly focusing on furniture as it is my real passion and love making bespoke pieces for customers.
How would you describe Applebee House? What services do you offer?
Applebee House is definitely a family run business. Not only my husband is involved but also my mum does the bags, aprons, bakes; my aunties outsource vintage furniture for me, etc. I should say it is a vibrant fun store but also quite professional as we both have qualifications for what we are doing.
With regards to services, we have a workshop onsite where we offer our carpentry services, we also specialise in vintage and mid-century restoration. Essentially our main focus is on the furniture business.
This year we will be also offering workshops such as upcycling furniture workshops and candle making. Stayed tuned on our social platforms for more details!
Between James and you, what are your roles at Applebee House? Who else works in the business
My main role is furniture restoration and sourcing products. I also do the web design for both businesses as we have a separate company for carpentry and joinery. James is pretty much in charge of the carpentry and joinery business making staircases, windows, etc.
We also have a lovely assistant Chloe. She started as an internship for Applebee House but she’s now working as a personal assistant for both companies. She’s brilliant!
We are also about to hire an upcycling intern as this side of the business is getting bigger and bigger.
What is a typical day at Applebees House?
Day to day running of the business differs every single day. The shop is closed Monday and Tuesday to the public but we are always here on Tuesday working on projects. At the moment the showroom is open from Wednesday to Sunday.
A normal day for me is to come to the showroom, dealing with emails, visiting clients, starting new projects, creating mood boards and presenting them to clients, managing the store, doing some upcycling, etc. Days go very quickly as they are so busy and not a single one is the same and I really like that!
The business has a furniture restoration and renovation element. Tell us a bit more about it.
Clients come from all different angles, they come into the showroom and they realise that we have a carpentry on site. Other clients come from the website or they might come from the carpentry side of business where they call the carpentry about restoration services. We also have clients coming to us through recommendations, word of mouth and we also have our regular clients. As you can see we get clients in different ways.
You also source and sell beautiful vintage pieces of furniture. Where do you find these gems?
A lot of the time my inspiration comes from Pinterest and then I check ebay to find pieces of furniture. Other pieces I find them in Rugby where I am originally from, house clearances, etc. I have two aunties that are very involved in sourcing vintage pieces so I can restore them at Applebee House. Other times I get donations brought in or they come from charities such as the British Heart Foundation. I have lots of sources!
I really like getting furniture from charities. When I buy from charities I feel I am giving something back so I mostly try to get my pieces of furniture from charities and organisations.
What are your best selling products or product ranges?
Chairs!! Everybody needs a chair. I sell chairs every week. Our handmade candles are also a good seller and are made of soy wax. I get a lot of candle business.
Do you have any favourites? Are you tempted to keep any of the pieces you end up restoring?
I am terrible, I am a hoarder! Ercol mid-century furniture, Nathan sideboards, G plan wardrobes, dressing tables, beds… you name it. I love them all!
It is hard to find old vintage pieces of furniture in good condition but when I find one I am thrilled! I then get to work and know I will give it a new lease of live by restoring it and finding it a new home. The fabulous vintage piece will be loved a little bit more.
Your business model has a lot to do with being sustainable. Is it something you are passionate about?
It is quite funny really as I have always been like this. I haven’t thought about being sustainable, for me it is a way of living. It is the way I have always lived and the way I continue to live my life. I rarely buy something that is brand new and if I do it has to be discounted.
In the future I would like to be more eco-friendly and live an even more sustained live. I like things that can be used over and over again such as my mum’s reusable bags that can be washed and use them again. So I guess I am going into the sustainability direction but it wasn’t intentional. For me it has always been a way of living.
Why High Barnet, why this shop? Do you get involved with the community?
My husband wanted his business in Barnet and it came by by chance. We started our first year with kids events and I met the “When I Grow Up Club” so I guess we got involved with the community from the start. I want to do more things like this in the future.
On the 11th February at 10:30 we are hosting the North London Mums in Business Association networking group event.
As I said before, we are planning to do candle making and upcyling furniture workshops in the future. These and other workshops will be advertised on Instagram… so stay tuned!
What are your plans for the future? What’s next for Applebee House?
I really want Applebee House to be lifestyle brand. To get and restore exquisite pieces of furniture, to host events and workshops and to get that personal connection with the community.
I want Applebee House to get bigger and to be able to teach the younger generation how to restore furniture and to also teach them how to live a more sustainable life.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out a business like Applebee House?
I would definitely advise them to trust your gut feeling. If you want to start a business just do it. Don’t listen to people telling you how difficult is going to be, etc. Just do it but also start by doing it on the side. I have worked in visual merchandising for a long time and I am still doing it for a client on a freelance basis. So give your options open!
I would also tell them to research just about everything. Don’t do anything without researching and make sure you know exactly what you want to do before doing it.
When you start your business you breath it!
Contact Applebee House
Address: Applebee House, Unit 2B, 164 High Street, Barnet EN5 5XP
Showroom: Tuesday to Saturday 11:00 – 17:00
Workshop: Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 18:00 (If away visiting clients please call 07583954404)
I hope you have enjoyed Amy’s interview about Applebee House in Barnet. If you are like me an enjoy knowing about other businesses and creative people you might also like my interview with pattern designer Agnes Somogyi from AS Patterns, candle maker Gemini from Apothecary Essence or home product designer Francesca from ZziniHome. Check them out!
Till the next post!