If you’re looking to bring a touch of class and elegance to your kitchen, look no further than Summerill and Bishop. Whether you have a taste for rustic wooden chopping boards, fine Italian glassware or hand-woven wicker baskets, there is a beautiful piece to suit every style of home. We popped to their lovely store in Holland Park to meet owners June and Bernadette, and talk about how they created their shop.
Can you tell us a bit about how Summerill & Bishop began and what prompted you to start a shop together?
‘We are old friends… Our children were at school together. We both enjoy cooking in our own kitchens at home, and paid special attention to them being beautiful as well as practical. Over lunch one day in 1993 we decided that it would be fun to fill what we thought was a hole in the market, and to open a kitchen shop which would reflect our own style, and hopefully be inspirational to others.’
Where do you go to source your ranges and how do you decide what to include?
‘We look at items from many different countries… France, England, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, America etc., we visit trade fairs and antique markets – and we only decide to buy (if we are both in agreement) items which we feel have integrity, beauty, and practicality.’
How do you ensure that you stock products other shops aren’t likely to have? Have you ever been tempted to expand into sourcing for other areas of the home?
‘We have exclusivity with quite a lot of items, and they are the ones made by artists to our specifications. Of course, we have to stock a lot of items which are not exclusive but even in that area, we are very particular about not being too much like other shops. We try very hard to keep to our original format.’
How would you describe the style of your own homes? Do you have any tips for creating a stylish home?
June: ‘my home is a mix of old and modern. Very open plan with a modern staircase, and old French stone fireplaces. No curtains…White linen throws, bare floors and bookshelves. A natural, slightly bohemian look is what I try to achieve. A stylish home should reflect your own personal style, and have no unnecessary clutter. I would say start with simplicity – a simple table with a jug of wild flowers can be the inspiration for a whole room. Better to have too little than too much.’
Bernadette: ‘mine is a simple, warm, family home. I have wooden floorboards, white walls and white linen curtains – rooms are decorated with vintage decorative accessories that have been inherited or bought from French antique markets. To create a stylish home, I think it’s important to live in it first. Don’t rush into any renovations, get the feeling of the house or flat. Discover what works and what doesn’t.’
Is there an item that you’d be lost without? Where else do you shop for homewares other than Summerill & Bishop?
June: ‘the item I would be lost without is a self portrait by my artist daughter Donna McLean. The other shops which I love for home wares are Designers Guild, and Katrina Philips on Portobello Road.’
Bernadette: ‘a vintage dinnerware set from my great grandmother. I shop for homeward at Myriad on Clarendon Cross, and Les Sardines in Clapham.’
Do you have a ‘hero’ product? Which pieces appear most frequently on customers’ wishlists?
‘Our hero product would be the majestic Italian wooden ironing Board (pictured below right). Most seen on wishlists are our ceramic tableware items from Wonki Ware (pictured below left), and our vintage-look range of white ceramics, hand-made in Paris by Astier de Villatte.’
You have some very high profile fans and have been featured extensively in the press, why do you think your shop and products remain so popular?
‘We think the reason for our popularity is that we try to retain our integrity, and our individuality, so that we appeal to both chefs and cooks, and also to designers. We have always been determined to stay “Kitchen” and not to divert to being a “gift shop”.’
You can take a look at Summerill & Bishop’s kitchen, picnic and dining range at mydeco.com.
I'm the Editor of the mydeco.com blog, writing about the interiors that inspire me most. I love bright colour against neutrals, and have a soft spot for themed rooms. Quirky accessories are my favourite and I love nothing more than finding something bold and beautiful to make a room really stand out! Read more posts by Laura.