Living in the North East of Scotland, I am missing independent, creative and inspiring shops, mainly in the furniture department. I clearly wasn’t the only one. Two weeks ago Claire Milne, a mother of one (and another one on the way!), opened up her brand new shop ‘Peapod’ in Aberdeen, dedicated to giving used and unloved pieces of furniture a new life by lovingly restoring them, painting them and giving them a whole new ‘funky’ look. I headed down to meet with her.
“I just felt it was time to do something different in my life”, says Claire, “after having been a fulltime mum for over a year. Opening up my own business felt like the right thing to do, doing what I love doing and being able to fit it around my family as well.” When a competition called Retail Rocks sprung up earlier this year, offering a number of entrepreneurs the chance to start up their business in rent-free premises for a year, Claire grabbed the opportunity. She is now one of the winners, trying to breathe new life into Aberdeen’s old neighbourhood of Torry, alongside a jewellery designer, a gallery, a hot dog cafe and a photo studio.
Peapod has a real vintage and romantic feel to it, with its pink painted walls, pastel coloured chairs, dresser and wardrobe and colourful bunting in the window. There are also plenty of pieces of furniture still in their original, shabby state, waiting for their turn to be done up. “We would like to give customers the freedom of telling us what colour and design they would like the furniture to be in”, explains Claire. ” They may be looking for something in particular, so we source it and we can then give it any look they wish.” Claire tells me about the basement of the shop that is full of gorgeous, old furniture and there’s even more. “There’s loads at my parents’ house, even their summer house in the garden is piled full of stuff!”
Other than just giving furniture a fresh lick of paint, Claire also has a love for the decoupage technique, which she applied to one of the chairs on the shop floor, covered in old comic book pictures. As I came in today, Claire was just busy doing another one, reusing sheet music from an old Beatles book. Great idea!
Claire has got help from her dad, a joiner (“my dad makes sure wonky chairs are safe to sit on again!”), and her husband, who is self-employed and is currently building an online shop for the Peapod business. And now, in addition to a lovely shop just been born, Claire is going to have a second baby in November. “It’s going to be one busy year!” Claire laughs, “we’ll just see how things go and make the best of it”. I have much admiration for this busy bee and hope she’ll do really well, adding a much needed touch of originality and a splash of paint to the grey city of Aberdeen.
If you’re in the area, go and have a look. Or even better, finally get that unique and eclectic statement sideboard, chair or wardrobe you’ve been looking for for ages.