The ‘immeasurable’ value of antique and reproduction fireplaces

By Owen Pacey
November 26, 2020

An Aladdin’s cave of architectural salvage based in Shoreditch, Renaissance London offers original and reproduction fireplaces, furniture and lighting as well as restoration and fitting services, with pieces sourced from all over the world. 

As the founder of the company, I truly believe that the aesthetic value of choosing antique or reproduction fireplaces and furniture is immeasurable. They give homes personality, life, allow them to function better at a practical level, and make them more attractive to prospective buyers. 

My route into dealing fireplaces began with doors. This was big in the eighties – pine was everywhere. I took a real shine to the work. We had a big water tank which was filled with caustic. These doors would be stacked up in the tankone time I even fell in and had to get hosed down pretty quickly. After that stage, we would take a jet hose and blast away all the sludge. These doors would reappear – they looked lovely after a wax.  

I realised we didn’t just have to strip the doors, we could also restore them. It was quite a magical process and we started to do it with cast iron fireplaces too. Clients would walk in and just say ‘wow.’ It gave me a sense of achievement, creating something that someone would cherish and enjoy.

I became drawn to the industry and saw real potential, so in the late 80s I decided to set up a business with friend John Balotti. We would travel together to old mansion blocks that were under development and purchase original fixtures such as doors and fireplaces that were being ripped out in one big swoop. Once, we went to a house in South Kensington and purchased a thousand doors. We then decided to move to Shoreditch, spotting its potential. Whilst being treated in Moorfields Eye Hospital in 1995, I noticed a run-down pub available on City Road and snapped it up immediately. Not only did it become our place of work but also my home. 

My team of experts and I are specialists in all areas of restoration, reproduction and fitting, always highlighting our passion for preservation and the beauty of original pieces. Our workshop is situated in the basement of the showroom. With Saturday the allocated ‘restoration’ day, the workshop is full of dust and creativity, producing the most exquisite results. Our installation service is second to none, offering expert insight on how a fireplace is installed. 

Installing a fireplace properly should take a good day’s work. We do it very thoroughly, the old-fashioned way. Other companies sometimes just use adhesive to attach the fire surrounds but this isn’t safe. We place heavy duty pins into the brickwork to ensure the fireplace is firmly secured. Installation also often depends on flooring. The first thing I ask is what period the building belongs to or where the property is. Take a Georgian house for example, the ground floor and first floor are normally marble whereas the basement will be stone or slate. If someone comes to me looking for a first-floor fireplace in a Notting Hill flat, I’ll know exactly what they need. 

Renaissance London has amassed clients from interior designers, hoteliers and celebrities including Mick Jagger, George Michael, Orlando Bloom, Gilbert & George, Kate Winslet, Robbie Williams, Jeremy Irons, Naomi Campbell and George Osborne. For this and so many more reasons, Renaissance London is truly unique. Its range of antiques and even the iconic pub in which it is situated, means people consider it as a true London design gem. 

Owen Pacey is founder of Renaissance London