What is your background?
The love affair with French antiques began when property developer Stephen bought a holiday home in the Pyrenees. It came with a surplus of antique furniture which he and entrepreneurial son Marcus saw as an interesting business opportunity.
When and why did you open The French House?
The French House have been trading for over 25 years from a warehouse north of York. Realising the demand for their French finds, Father Stephen and son Marcus Hazell opened their first shop on Micklegate York in 1997, followed by showrooms in London. Since then, they have made countless trips to France, sourcing the hard to find, restoring the ‘past its best’ and keeping their prices low and their stock current with trends.
How do you source your stock?
Stephen and Kathryn still have a home in France, where they enjoy time relaxing in-between sourcing items for the business. They frequent the various antiques auctions, brocantes and numerous house clearances – never knowing where a hidden gem might be discovered.
Stephen said “When we decide on our travel dates, we will always give notice to our regular sources and let them know our arrival dates. We plan our trips and try to coordinate with antiques fairs and auctions that are taking place in the region.”
Since opening the business, they have made countless trips to France, sourcing the hard to find, restoring the ‘past its best’ and keeping their prices low and their stock current with trends.
Do you specialise in anything?
We have a good knowledge of all French antiques, but we love to buy mirrors, tables and upholstery. We tend to buy what we love, but as we have got to know our customers and their tastes too, plus we do offer a bespoke sourcing service.
What do you sell and what are your price ranges?
The York showroom houses one of the largest ranges of French antiques in the UK, including beds, mirrors, lights, upholstery, tables ranging from 17th to 20th Century and much more.
With small items in their brocante section like Ricard glasses or old French tea towels from just a few pounds, French farmhouse tables from £600, a dark green and black marble console table at £2750 to a Louis XV ornate crested mirror with a ticket price of £3,200.
Can we visit? If so, what can we expect to find?
The French House showroom, just North of York is open six days a week, Monday to Saturday 10am-4pm, with parking available.
The French House team pride themselves on giving a bespoke and unique service. They can adapt and restore pieces to fit with your style and needs. With a host of highly skilled tradespeople available to adapt the old into the modern home. “That’s a service we offer that others don’t. If a table is too long, we can cut it down, we French polish, upholster and we deliver and install, which people appreciate, especially if it’s a huge mirror,” says Kathryn.
What are your favourite pieces?
In our own home we have a lot of mirrors – not for vanity, but because we think that they are like hanging art. Some of the antique mirrors we find have visible signs of ageing known as ‘foxing’ creating beautiful intricate patterns. A mirror adds personality and a focal point to a room, and creates dimension, making the room feel more spacious.
What do you love about your job?
We love our time in France! We have really good relationships with five or six dealers who know our taste and they will source and hold things for us to view before offering pieces to others. This loyal service that we receive has come after many years of supplying The French House. We also really enjoy visiting village fairs and finding interesting objects. We live in a beautiful wine region, so a glass of Sancerre, with local cheese at the end of a day sourcing is just perfect.
What do you think makes The French House different from other dealers?
“It’s taken a long time to achieve the business model that suits our business and our life, but it enables The French House to acquire a constant supply of fresh stock at competitive prices for both our York and London showrooms. We source pieces for individual and trade clients, making several trips a year to ensure that our stock is constantly changing. We keep up to date with interior trends to ensure that we don’t get stuck in a style rut and complacent. For example, heavily carved beds were very popular when we first opened, but more recently lighter framed or Louis style and cane beds proves more popular, so we adapt to these trends. It’s important to us as a business and as individuals to keep growing and developing.”
The French House is a family business with showrooms in York and London, who pride themselves on their vision for sourcing authentic antiques from France and creating beautiful pieces for the home.
A bientot from Stephen and Kath