Antiques dealer to the A-list, Owen Pacey of Renaissance London transformed an abandoned pub in Shoreditch into a design treasure trove and elegant apartment which he calls home.
It was the early 1990s when Owen, on a visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital, spotted a run-down pub on City Road. Many people saw it as a near-derelict space on a neglected street, the antiques expert saw a potential showroom for his growing business in an up-and-coming area teeming with creatives. Thirty years later and Renaissance London has amassed an impressive black book of clients, including Naomi Campbell, Soho House, George Michael and Kate Winslet. Packed with restored antique fireplaces, vintage chandeliers and opulent mirrors, Renaissance London is known by the design world as an ‘Aladdin’s Cave of architectural salvage’.
After converting the lower levels into his showroom and restoration studio, Owen turned his attention to the apartment upstairs. Taking advantage of the unique pieces he comes across for work, Owen transformed the space into an eclectic, yet refined four-bedroom home with a subtle 70s influence. Catching up with Owen and his labradoodle, we traded tales about negotiating with Italian monks and finding refuge in gardening.
Gardening, good books and breathing life into the old with Owen Pacey
Where is home for you?
Shoreditch. I live in a converted pub which is also the showroom and restoration location of the business. I’m lucky, I have a very short commute to work!
(In normal times) what does your daily routine look like?
Each day is completely different. In the morning I check my emails and throughout the day I could be doing anything from running the showroom, attending site visits, speaking to customers or prepping the showroom. I love the variety!
The pub conversion was quite an undertaking. Please can you tell us about your design process?
I redesigned my home myself. I’m lucky with the showroom as it allows me to come across so many unique pieces, which was very handy when I redesigned my apartment. I love 70s style and have tried to replicate that in my own interior scheme. I also love collecting artefacts from different periods and mixing them together to create a unique and eclectic look.
Where’s your favourite room or spot in your home?
There is nothing better than hearing the rain outside on a cold, drizzly day and curling up on the sofa. I think that’s everyone’s favourite spot at home!
How have the lockdowns changed the way that you spend time at home?
I spend a lot of time in the garden using lots of different pots, urns, troffs, and pieces from the showroom. I’m thrilled with how it’s all come together and the difference it has made to the space. Gardening became such a great activity during lockdown, as I think it did for so many people. It made me really value the sense of community. Over the first lockdown I went to some of my neighbours’ houses and gave them plants to bring some joy to their homes and we managed to have a few socially distanced chats as well. It really brought our community together.
You’ve got a day to spend at home with no obligations or distractions. What would we find you doing?
You can’t beat a day sitting down with a good book. I love to read. If it’s not a book, I pop to the shop across the road and pick up some interiors magazines for inspiration.
If you had to pick a few key pieces from your showroom to restyle their home for winter, which would you choose?
A fireplace is a real focal point, it brings people together. They are lovely community pieces, which makes them a great addition to your home for winter. It’s hard to pick one distinctive fireplace in my collection, each model is one of a kind. One set does stay in my mind though, which is the giant travertine fireplaces that came from an Italian monastery. This was many years ago when a huge earthquake struck. I happened to be in southern Italy at the time and ended up bartering with this very old Italian monk for them. The monastery itself, the negotiation with the monk… it was a surreal exchange! The fireplaces are both currently in my own home.
What exciting projects are you currently working on or have coming up?
We have a lot of new projects we are currently working on, particularly in listed buildings. One of our projects is installing an antique Italian fireplace into a modern kitchen space, I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished project.
Photographs by Graham Atkins Hughes