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The Most Expensive Furniture Ever Sold At Auction

Published by Joanna Whitworth in furniture

Good quality furniture or a piece that has an impeccable provenance will always yield a high price at auction. In recent years there have been a number of desks, cabinets and tables that have commanded eye-watering prices from bidders and here are some of the most expensive to ever go under the hammer.

1. The Badminton Cabinet

This astoundingly ornate cabinet was sold by the descendants of the 3rd Duke of Beaufort for an incredible $36.7 million and currently sits in the Liechtenstein Museum. The cabinet was sold in 2004 and was constructed in Florence. Inlayed with precious stones, this is more a work of art than a functional piece of furniture.


2. The Dragon’s Chair


Showing that provenance and craftsmanship will always be popular, the Dragon’s Chair made spectators gasp at the price it garnered at a Christie’s auction.

This early 20th century chair was once the property of Yves St Laurent and when the iconic piece of furniture was auctioned in 2009, it fetched a stunning  £19.million. Art deco designer, Eileen Gray is responsible for the chair’s creation.


3. Goddard and Townsend Desk


If you wanted to invest in a real statement piece, then the Goddard and Townsend secretary desk might appeal. The desk was made in the 1760s and was sold at a Christie’s auction in 1989 for $11,480,675.

This is said to be the highest price ever paid for a piece of American furniture. Only 9 of the desks were ever made, which might be one of the reasons for the high auction price. 


4. The Harrington Commode

The superb 18th century English furniture craftsman, Thomas Chippendale, is always popular at auction. As the centuries progress, his work is more difficult to source and any piece which comes up at auction it’s sure to be snapped up.

Sotheby’s sold this Harrington Commode in 2010 at an impressive £3,793,250. The marquetry and design of the Commode is exquisite so it’s hardly surprising it attracted such attention.


5. George II Parcel Gilt Padouk Cabinet


Beautifully created furniture made by a respected designer can only increase in value. Christie’s recorded a price of £2,729,250 for the George II Parcel Gilt Padouk Cabinet when it sold in 2008, putting it firmly in our list of most expensive furniture sold at auction.

At the time of the sale, Christie’s Head of furniture, Henry House, said “the final price demonstrates true demand in the market for items of real quality.”


Pretty Pastels

Over the last year Grey took over from Magnolia as our fall back colour of choice for interiors, but this is set to be challenged.  Pastel shades such as muted greens, powdery blues, buttercup yellows and soft pinks are beginning to fill interior design mags and blogs, so you may be surprised at how modern and versatile this look can be.


Offsetting pastel shades with neutrals colours, metallic accessories and crisp clean lines gives this look a much more sophisticated and modern edge than the sugary sweet images people envisage when you say pastels.

The lilac in this image is a much fresher take on the colour of the year Radiant Orchid, especially when teamed with this cool teal striped fabric and matching accessories.  Mixing pastels with different textures and materials will add warmth and balance to the overall look.


Crisp white walls can act as the perfect backdrop to pastel accents, creating a calm and serene space.  The natural twigs in this simple vase contrast with the soft cool colours of the modern furniture.


By mixing different pastel shades the look becomes much more playful.  These paper poms poms are an inexpensive and great way to add a focal point to large rooms, or a child’s bedroom.   


Pastel shades can easily be incorporated to other trends such as geometric patterns. 

This touch of pastels doesn’t have to end in the living room; bedrooms are a great place to clash pastel colours, especially when contrasted with the pale wooden accessories such as this beautiful retro chair.

Pastel colours are a stylish alternative to the bolder colour schemes we’ve seen this year, so whether you choose add a splash with accessories or go all out with a new a brand new look you sure to be bang on trend for 2014.


How to Introduce Patterns and Printed Fabrics into Your Home

Published by Joanna Whitworth in Patterns, Prints, Tips

In today’s fast-moving world, there are no hard and fast rules regarding interior design. The key is to develop your own style.

Here we look at how to use prints or bold colours, taking inspiration from designers and design publications.


Ways to introduce patterns

Before you can start deciding how to use patterns in your home, you need to understand what options are available to you. Introducing prints into your interior design is relatively easy and products you can opt for include:

  • Reupholstered sofas, settees, chairs and other furniture
  • Patterned or printed cushions
  • Patterned or printed curtains, furnishings and decorations

Once you’ve decided which products are best suited for your home, start to think about the best way to introduce them.

Introduce your new design stage by stage

Rather than rushing in like a bull in a china shop, give your new style time to grow by introducing patterns stage by stage.

Start by colour matching a small piece of fabric with your colour scheme and having a single item of furniture reupholstered with a complimentary pattern. Alternatively, introduce patterned curtains and see how they look before taking the style further.

  Chelsea Velvet - Rose & Balmoral - Aubergine

Consider the size of the room

You must take the size of your room into consideration when introducing patterns and printed fabrics. Smaller prints will suit a smaller room while a bold approach can be taken in larger rooms.

To experiment, you could always just recover a few cushions with a vibrant colour to place on plain sofas or chairs. Try and co-ordinate your colour scheme so that a range of plain and busier shades are used; too much colour can be very distracting.

Ensure that the background colour of your new upholstery blends with your overall room décor so that your changes don’t stand out like a sore thumb and remember to keep everything in proportion to the room.

                                                            Macintosh - Cream

Colour and design is vital

If you are still unsure about changing from a neutral design to one of pattern, then why not opt for something subtle? Patterns and prints come in all styles and designs so you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

Starting with subtler patterns can help you get used to the new look and feel of the design, giving you the confidence to experiment with bolder options in the future.


Zari - Natural


Spring Fabric Launch

Spring has just arrived, the awful weather is hopefully behind us, and glimmers of sunshine are slowly pushing through the dark clouds.  To prepare for brighter weather we’ve added over a 100 fabulous new fabrics and colourways to our range.

The additions to our range will include fabrics from well-known Design Houses such as Ross Fabrics, Linwood, Warwick, Sanderson, William Morris and Jim Dickens.  These new fabrics will extend all areas of our range from loose covers and reupholstery to curtains and scatter cushions.    

The new collection will hopefully have something for everyone including stripes, florals, checks, and bold geometric prints.  Here are a few examples of our most exciting additions…

The ottoman has been reupholstered in the stunning Picasso - Raspberry fabric, and the sofa has been reupholstered in a pretty Montartre also in Raspberry.  Both of these fabrics are from Warwick Fabrics.

These stunning geometric prints are from Linwood fabrics in the colourway Currant/Gold.


This bold and vibrant fabric is called Liberti – Aubergine, and will take centre stage in any home.  Let the print stand out by co-ordinating with simple coloured scatters.

If you prefer more neutral tones we’ve also added some new colourways to existing fabrics in the Plumbs range.  This sofa is reupholstered in Luciano – Mink, and the chair and footstool is reupholstered in Ricco – Mink.  These fabrics are available in the same colourways to create stunning co-ordinating looks.

To see more fabrics in the Plumbs range click through to ou fabric range.  For a FREE no obligation quotation on any of these fabrics or any others in the Plumbs range contact Plumbs today.


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Mini at the Ideal Home Show

The Classic Mini is considered the British icon of the sixties, and is still one of the most popular cars today.  Born in the late fifties the Minis small size has influenced a generation of car makers, as well as appearing in films such as The Italian Job and Mr Bean.

Here at Plumbs we’ve been busy turning the front part of this classic piece of design into a unique seat. Here’s how we did it...

The Mini is stripped back to be cleaned and prepped for its transformation.

The bonnet has been removed to make way for the seat. 

We choose a classic red colour to complement the gold wheels. 

We have used beautiful red leather and a coordinating fabric by Swaffer to upholster the seat that now sits in the Mini.

The finished article! What a stunning transformation.  If you’re at The Ideal Home Show why come to stand 1G30 and see it for yourself!


16 Amazingly Unique Chairs, Sofas and Settees from Pinterest

In the world of furniture, not everything has to follow the rigid rules of design. Sometimes, you can find something that breaks the mould and stands out from the crowd – as these 16 amazingly unique chairs, sofas and settees from Pinterest show.

1. Figure 6 chair

These organic-looking figure 6 chairs appear to flow into themselves, providing a natural and beautiful addition to the home. 

Figure of 6 Unique Chair by Joseph Walsh courtesy of Deidra Brocké Wallace via Pinterest 

2. Wine glass chair

If you’re the sort of person who likes to relax with a drink at the end of the day, these wine-inspired chairs are the ideal place to enjoy a classic vintage.

Merlot chairs courtesy of Lea Eaton via Pinterest 

3.Teacup chairs

If tea is your drink of choice, maybe these teacup chairs would be more suitable.

Image courtesy of LaVeta Griego via Pinterest

4. Grass chairs

Enliven your garden with grass covered sofas to retain the ‘natural’ look in your outdoor space.

Unique Sofa Outdoor Fresh Grass courtesy of Misha Genesis via Pinterest

5. Half dollar sofa

Although money has long played an important part in high-end furniture design, this half dollar covered sofa takes it to a whole new level.

Sofa made entirely out of half dollar coins courtesy of Skylar's Home & Patio via Pinterest 

6. Geometric sofa

This bright, geometrically designed sofa would look great in a minimalist home or as the centrepiece of any design-conscious interior.

Playful Swiss Knife Couch courtesy of Helene Eskildsen via Pinterest 

7. Shopping trolley chair

If all you think about when you see a supermarket trolley is the weekly shop, this quirky chair design should make you think again. 

Shopping trolley chair courtesy of Karen Grant via Pinterest 

8. Vintage bath settee

Enjoy a relaxing soak like never before in this stunning vintage bath settee. 

Vintage bath courtesy of Nancy Lewis via Pinterest 

9. Suitcase chair

Old suitcases can often come in handy, and this great chair design shows just how interesting furniture made from reclaimed or recycled suitcases can be.

Image courtesy of Anakiwa-Mūla Anaka via Pinterest

10. Magic carpet sofa

Ever fancied going for a magic carpet ride? Well this curvy sofa design may not whisk you off into the night, but it will provide a great centrepiece for your living room. 

Image courtesy of Coby Nonamegiven via Pinterest 

11. Cactus sofa

Though this cactus-inspired sofa may not look like the most comfortable place to relax, it’s guaranteed to make your friends prickle with envy. 

Image courtesy of Wessel Wessels via Pinterest

12. Phone box sofa

This bright, colourful and fun phone box sofa would make an eye-catching addition to any British home.

Image courtesy of Russell Deasley via Pinterest 

13. Luggage chairs

Versatile enough to act as tables and chairs, luggage has never been more chic! 

Image courtesy of Alter Novum via Pinterest

14. High-heel chairs

If shoes are your raison d’etre, what could be better than a huge pair of high-heeled chairs in your front room?

Unusual shoe chair courtesy of Coleen Uyehara via Pinterest

15.  Ultimate lounge chair

This cosy chair is the perfect place for relaxing on a cold winter’s day. The zip up sleeping bag makes it easy to crawl inside when everything gets a bit too much. 

Unusual lounge chair courtesy of Fine Home Decor 101 via Pinterest

16. Egg chairs

If you’re looking for a quirky and fun solution to your seating needs, these egg-cellent chairs could just be the answer. Great for kitchens and living rooms, they’d make a light-hearted addition to any home. 

Images courtesy of Cristina Prodigalidad via Pinterest 

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From Rustic to Futuristic: The Plumbs’ Style Guide

With everyone at Plumbs eagerly awaiting our attendance at the Ideal Home Show (March 14-30), there has been a lot of talk about our favourite interior styles. The event’s Ideal Home Magazine Room Sets are always packed full of inspiration regarding the latest interior trends, with numerous styles represented.

In celebration of the event and to help any of you hoping to recreate the styles that will be showcased this March, we’ve put together this style guide to outline the main features of each distinctive home interior style.


The perfect option for those with conservative tastes, traditional styles gain plenty of appreciation for their classic and timeless charm. Symmetrical arrangements of furniture and rich colours are common and give this look an indulgent and luxurious feel.



Main features:

  • Antique furniture and furnishings
  • Floral prints
  • Rich colours combined with clean neutrals
  • Deep carpets with thick piles
  • Decorated woodwork


The preserve of the eccentric, this style stands in stark contrast to the symmetry of traditional styles, for a more free-flowing look with plenty of character. The secret to this style is that are no strict rules to follow.


Main features:

  • Mismatched furniture
  • Haphazard arrangement of ornaments, photos and artwork
  • Mixture of patterns and colours on fabrics and furnishings
  • Bold, neutral and dark colour palettes used together
  • Use of glass and wood


Working on the principle that all fashion trends revolve in a circle and repeat themselves, rustic styles are most commonly associated with country cottages and older properties. Exposed wooden surfaces, free from varnish and paint, as well as uneven cuts that give a more ‘rough and ready’ look, are both common.


Main features:

  • Solid wood furniture
  • Dark colour palettes mixed with deep neutrals
  • Large furniture with luxurious, patterned furnishings
  • Natural decorations (fresh flowers, fruit bowls)
  • Uneven cuts and plain finishes

Shabby Chic

This style combines modern elements with traditional patterns for something dainty, quirky and altogether beautiful. Think glass tables with floral furnishings and plenty of natural elements. 


Main features:

  • Pastel shades and light colour palettes
  • Floral prints
  • Heavy use of fabric and natural wood as well as glass
  • Strong nature trend
  • Tasselled, embroidered and pleated fabric


A modern look that embraces the artistic elements of manufacturing, this is not a style for the faint-hearted. Dark colour palettes combine with a bold use of metal and distressed wood to create something urban, dark and mysterious.


Main features:

  • Weathered and distressed wooden furniture
  • Dark colour palettes with a heavy focus on black and grey
  • Common use of metal furniture and ornaments
  • Traditional hard flooring
  • Few, sparse natural elements

So what style is best-suited to you?  Whatever your preferred style for your home, this guide should help you to achieve your desired look. To find out more about Plumbs’ attendance at the Ideal Home Show, see our events page for more details.


Famous Furniture of the Silver Screen

Have you ever been totally captivated by a film and felt transported to the time in which it’s set? No doubt you have, but it won’t just be high-calibre acting which has made this possible – the set and props will have played their part too.

While celebrities may be the ones winning the awards at the Oscars, they’re not the only cast members worthy of recognition. For those interested in famous furniture of the silver screen, here’s our rundown of some of the biggest stars from films through the ages.

Barcelona Chair from Casino Royale (2006)

Simple, elegant and stylish, the Barcelona chair has become synonymous with class over the years, making it the perfect addition to M’s flat in Casino Royale. The chair has been described as a cross between a folding chair and a throne – a good analogy of this practical, yet chic, piece of furniture.

                     Image courtesy of Memado Movie Blog 

Get the Look

Although the classic Barcelona chair is often upholstered in black or white leather, M’s chairs appear to be covered in a light brown suede material. Many people feel suede makes for a more homely, comfortable alterative to leather, but some feel using different fabrics can compromise the overall look. Regardless of what fabric type you go for, try and steer clear of patterns when attempting to recreate this look – it will take away from the simplicity of the design.

So there you have it – it’s not just the actors that are the starts of stage and screen. And with the wide range of reupholstery options and fabric choices out there, you can even recreate some of your favourite pieces of film furniture in your own home!


Tub style chair from The Great Gatsby (2013)

Full of pomp and flapper-generation glitz, The Great Gatsby was celebrated in cinema for its bold and beautiful portrayal of this classic novel set in the 1920s. Ornate furniture was a key feature and something you’ll see a lot of throughout the scenes. A particular favourite of ours is this striped tub style chair.

                      Image courtesy of Pure Inspiration

Get the look

To get the look yourself, chair reupholstery is a great option. Plumbs’ extensive choice of fabrics is sure to give you the look you crave with stripped patterns always a favourite.

For something as glamorous as the screen version, look for an ornately decorated chair with a wooden frame and decorative engravings.


Regal throne from Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Tim Burton’s take on this classic tale of fantasy and intrigue was a hit for many viewers and certainly paid close attention to costume and set. One of the standout triumphs of the film was this throne for the ruthless Queen of Hearts.

                                        Image courtesy of Alice in Wonderland on Deviant Art                         

Get the look

For this high-backed chair, you’ll need to reupholster existing furniture in a deep, red material. You’ll want something fairly thick with a soft and luxurious feel and may also want to consider a heart pattern to echo the heart-shaped back on the chair. Gold detailing is a must for any embroidery and can look particularly effective for accents such as piping.


What's your style?

Published by Joanna Whitworth in Interior, Quiz, Style

Ever wondered what interior style suits you best?

Are you modern, chic, retro or vintage? Not sure? Well we’ve put together a little quiz based on aspects of everyday life such as; what clothes you like to wear, what you like to do at the weekend and where you feel most comfortable to help you decide on a style that’s most suited to you.

Once you’ve finished the quiz why not tell everyone what style you are (hit the tweet or share button) and see if your friends agree!



Create a Neutral Haven for under £500

Spring is just around the corner and the perfect time to spruce up your home, so to help inspire your creative flair I’ve put together a neutral look based on my last blog all for under £500.

The look I’ve put together below is based on fresh neutral hues co-ordinated with foliage wallpaper and natural beech wood.  A neutral colour palette of white, creams and soft greys works beautifully with splashes of blacks or browns.  A simple and inexpensive scheme like this is perfect base for adding bolder pieces of furniture or colour at a later date. 


When creating your own look for around £500 think carefully about the end result you want for your room, creating a moodboard helps to visualise the overall look before you buy, so can stop you from making any expensive mistakes.

Choosing paint over wallpaper is a more cost effective solution, however if you do fall in fall in love with a particular design, try to keep to one wall or alcoves as any more and the look may be too overpowering and also costly.

You can also save money by upcycling, which has become immensely popular as people do not want to spend hundreds on vintage or one of pieces so take to creating their own.  If you have a worn out piece of furniture that you can’t bear to part with you find tutorials on upcycling such as sites like Youtube.

If you don’t have the time to update your furniture then buying new pieces isn’t always a costly solution. It’s a lot easier to find exciting and stylish pieces today on the high street and in the style of expensive designer ones. 


  1. Made to Measure Turin Loose Covers -  from £199, by Plumbs
  2. Gaser Rug – Ikea - £80
  3. Candle – Matalan - £3
  4. Tripod Floor Lamp – Habitat - £150
  5. Wallpaper – John Lewis - £52 (a roll)

If you would like to take advantage of any of our current offers, contact Plumbs for a free no obligation quote.


Creating a Neutral Haven

Colours are brilliant at creating moods in a room, but keeping colours in neutral hues can create a beautifully relaxing and sophisticated haven. By mixing textures, tones, and materials you can create a timeless soothing atmosphere you’ll relish coming home to unwind in.  A neutral colour pallet includes not just white, but soft greys, indulgent creams, and can be contrasted with brown or black accessories.  One big advantage of having a neutral colour scheme is you can always add splashes of colour at a later date without having to redesign your room.

The cool grey sofa and glass accessories in this room create a fresh and relaxing environment.  The clash of patterns, textures and old and new help add interest to this simple yet sophisticated design.

Creating a neutral living space can seem quite daunting, especially if you normally choose dark forgiving hues that hide any mishaps.  However, by incorporating rugs and throws you can create a sumptuous and comforting environment that’s also practical to live in.  

This simple yet stylish Luxury Ravello fabric in Rich Vanilla has completely transformed this vintage piece of furniture and would help to freshen up any room.  When accessorizing think about how much white or black you want in the room, as an imbalance can be stark and heavy.  By adding accessories with light wood and foliage/floral wallpaper you can add a natural influence to the design.  Lighting helps to add warmth, and softens the cool colours of a neutral room, think big lamps, and simple candles. 

If you would like any help creating a neutral scheme in your home contact Plumbs today for a FREE no obligation quotation.

Look out for my next blog, where I’ll be discussing how to create stunning looks such as this neutral scheme for around £500!


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