Boutique owner Emily Chalmers doesn't buy things for her home, she just acquires them

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I like places that are a bit weird. I'm more interested in what you might call dwellings than purpose-built houses. I like the idea of turning an unusual space into a home, which is what we've done in this converted warehouse flat in Shoreditch.

When we moved in six years ago I'd only seen this place from the outside. I was going away and hadn't been able to get a viewing, but I'd spent a lot of time trying to look in through the windows without much success. I had a feeling it was going to be special so I let my husband view it and agree to move in while I was still away.

It's very basic. We still have the strip lighting and concrete floors, and there's no central heating, but I feel healthier for it – I just move around more and wear extra layers. It gives me a nice excuse to buy a few more clothes. Guests staying over, however, have been known to wear hats in bed.

Temperature aside, it feels cosy as there are lots of textures. I love vintage floral prints and have lots of patterned clothes I hang on the walls – it makes more sense than hiding them away in a wardrobe. To create a bit of privacy I divided off the bedroom and dressing-room with floor-to-ceiling drapes. I found some great fabrics in a market in France and ran them up, along with the sofa cushions, myself.

I never shop for things for my home; I just seem to acquire them along the way. My cowhide rug is from a market in Amsterdam and I must have a fetish for Anglepoise lamps as I noticed the other day that I have about seven of them, all from different places.

The painting behind the sofa is by Faile, a friend who did a street-art show years ago at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. They had these huge canvases they didn't have space for after, so they gave me five. Somehow, I've only ended up with this one, which is a shame as a similar piece just went for £10,000. I really like mine, though – it pulls the room together.

Emily Chalmers is author of 'Flea Market Style'. Her shop, Caravan, re-opens at 3 Redchurch Street, London E2, in September. It is currently open for phone and online sales (020 7033 3532,

Get the look: Warehouse arty

1. Birds of a feather

La Volière lampshade, £330, tel: 020 7224 2453

2. Perfect patch

Helen Chatterton floral cushion, £40,

3. Fine vintage

Mid-century leather sofas, from £1,000,, tel: 020 7723 6066