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homes with relics to relish; Recycled style needn't ' meana mismatched interior redolent of make-do-and -mend. Gabrielle Fagan visits the homes of Zoe Ellison and Alex Legendre which prove recycling can be chic.

Byline: Gabrielle Fagan

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.

h 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. r Remarkably, iy t h asledtoa lifestyle concept - promoted through a shop and most recently a new book, A Life Less Ordinary - that t hasan 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.

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.

"WeW recycle because it's 'a way of making our homes, and i gigi, original and unique. We have nothing that is mass-produced."

Legendre, who lives with her husband Keith, 47, and 18-year-oldr daughter Mizzy, y also delights in making the ordinary look extraordinary, y which is demonstrated everywhere in her home.

There's ' a charm about the seating in the kitchen which includes an old church pew dressed with cushions made from antique grain sacks, and French apple crates house the family's ' wine collection.

Collections continually catch the eye from cream china to plaster moulds for silver spoons from the 19th century, wy hich are displayed in her stripped pine kitchen dr d esser.

In the living room, the historic skeleton of the house's ' past is unashamedly laid bare, with walls stripped back to the lath and plaster and painted cream.

A few pieces hold centre stage: a vintage v Chesterfield sofa, reupholstered in thickly woven hemp sourced in Hungary, y and an old military chest for a coffee table.

Flair and imagination also play a key role, as Legendre proves with her adaptation of an old linen cupboard which acts as a hideaway for a TV and computer. r Ellison's f ' lat nearby has a similarly intriguing and effortlessly chic interior where recycling rules.

She demonstrates the same talent for combining character with function in her use of pieces, collected during her travels around the world.

A Turkish u oil jar is used as a table base, and a papier-r mache refrigerator inlaid with glittering shards of mirror, r found in India, serves as a focal point in her living room fireplace.

Reclaimed wide oak floorboards and cabinets painted in smoky blue-grey give a restful, rustic feel in her kitchen, but it transcends the predictable with the dramatic positioning of two large weathered antique pillars with carved detail.

Ellison chose to name their shop, where pieces are sourced from all over Europe, after the Igigi, said to be the gods of the skies and earth in Mesopotamian mythology. y "Home is such a tinyt word for an important place," says Ellison, 35. "It's ' where we want to feel safe and warm, protected and comfortable, and where you need to feel your most authentic self."

Two friends, f two homes, one shop and a lifestyle which could inspire your decor... r > MORE INTERIORS PAGES A 8&9


| Left, Zoe Ellison's' 'sliving room with an Indian papier-mache refrigerator; Alex Legendre and Zoe Ellison, centre; and a vintage radiator with a Turkish oil jar in Zoe's' bathroom, righ

| In Alex Legendre's' kitchen the seating is a church pew and French apple crates house the family's' wine collection. On the wall hang a group of vintage breadboards
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 4, 2013
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