Relic-filled homes to relish

There’s an almost tangible feeling of calm and comfort as you enter Alex Legendre’s house with its muted palette of earthy colours, lath and plaster walls, wide reclaimed floorboards and collection of quirky treasures.

Everywhere the patina of age is not just obvious but celebrated, and even uttering the word ‘new’ would seem disrespectful.

“I’ve always believed that collecting objects that others in the past have loved, whether or not you ever knew their owners, and making those things special in your life, is good for your soul,” she says, summing up her down-to-earth decor philosophy.

But Legendre happily admits her addiction for “old things” would have remained a private and personal passion had it not been for a chance encounter.

Remarkably, it has led to a lifestyle concept – promoted through a shop and most recently a new book, A Life Less Ordinary – that has an influence far beyond the confines of her home.

It was 14 years ago when, in what she describes as a “serendipity moment” – a happy accident – she met Zoe Ellison, and their creative partnership was born.

“I happened to go into a clothes shop which Zoe was helping her mother to run and we just got talking. At the time we were at different stages in our life,” she explains.

“She was in her twenties, headstrong and hungry for success, while I was married with a small child just looking for a return to work.

“But even from the start it was clear that we had virtually identical taste. We share an addiction to the atmosphere you get from old things and both of us revel in the beauty of commonplace objects which have been passed from hand to hand, gathering a history over the years.”

Their friendship blossomed, as did their ambition to help others share their vision for living where homes are furnished with reclaimed and sensitively restored furniture and homeware.

In 2003 they opened i gigi, a general store in Brighton, where they conjure inspiring settings mirroring those in their own homes, which feature in their book. “The reason for our passion for the store is simple –we live our lives like this,” says Legendre, 40.

“We recycle not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s a way of making our homes, and i gigi, original and unique.

l A Life Less Ordinary by Alex Legendre and Zoe Ellison is published by Cico Books, priced £25. On offer to readers for £23, including p&p. Call 01256 302 699 and quote ref GLR8BM.

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