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My Lockdown Life – Owen Pacey

My Lockdown Life is our interview series discovering how fellow East Londoners are coping with their new normal, what they’re up to and how we can support them at this time. We talk to Owen Pacey, owner of Shoreditch based antique fireplace and lighting specialist, Rennaisance.

Over the course of his 30-year career, East End born Owen Pacey has established a reputation as a foremost expert in architectural salvage. As well as offering a vast array of original pieces, from furniture and lighting to mirrors and statuary in his Renaissance London showroom, he has developed a bespoke fireplace service, meticulously matching historical designs. Owen has gathered a host of high profile projects and clients from country mansions to One Hyde Park, for the likes of Gilbert & George, Kate Winslet, Georgia May Jagger, Mick Jagger, Robbie Williams, Jeremy Irons, Naomi Campbell and Jamie Oliver.

lockdown lifeWhat does your lockdown life look like at the moment?

Each day is completely different. In the morning I check my emails and throughout the day I could be doing anything from running the showroom, attending site visits, speaking to customers or prepping the showroom. I have a potential restoration project coming up soon which will certainly keep me busy.

What have you found the most challenging about the lockdown?

It’s so strange having so much more time on our hands. I’m actually enjoying this slower pace of life which is a surprise as I’m used to travelling all over Europe sourcing unique antiques.

How has your business been affected by lockdown life?

Our store based in Shoreditch has been closed throughout the most restrictive lockdown measures and that’s been challenging as I miss engaging with my clients. But lockdown has shown me that you have to adapt in new environments. It’s so important to remain present on social media as this is a great way to keep customers up to date with new stock, opening times depending on restrictions and any safety measures.

Pre-covid I would travel all over Europe searching for unique and interesting fireplaces, reclaimed lighting and architectural salvage. I used to take a trip abroad once a month, usually for three days. Angelo Attanasio, who has worked for me for 22 years, would go around all the markets buying up old components of fireplaces, which he then sends to Italy to have moulds made. The travelling element of our business has come to a halt because of Covid and this is something we’ve truly missed as we’re inspired by our global unique finds.

Do you have a go-to lockdown meal at the moment?

It has to be an M&S seafood linguine for me.

What have you been doing to relax during this time – have you found anything really effective?

I haven’t been able to see my girlfriend throughout lockdown so catching up with her over Facetime helps me relax at the end of my working day.

Have you read any interesting books or articles, or watched any great films or TV series you’d recommend?

I’ve just finished reading Prisoner of Geography and it’s been such a good read. I’ve learnt so much about different places around the world – especially in such times as we’re unable travel!

Have there been any silver linings for you during this period?

The silver lining for our business has been the trust people have put in shopping online. At Renaissance London, we focus on having strong relationships with our clients. We’ve managed to still do this – being able to rely on video calls has been a saving grace.

Will you be making any changes to your life moving forward in a post-lockdown world?

For me, I will continue to make time for my loved ones and I want to keep up my gardening efforts post Covid. I spend a lot of time in the garden using lots of different pots, urns, troughs and pieces from the showroom. I’m thrilled with how it’s all come together and the difference it has made to the space. Gardening became such a great activity during lockdown, as I think it did for so many people. It made me really value the sense of community. Over the first lockdown I dropped off plants to some of my neighbours to bring some joy to their homes and we managed to have a few socially distanced chats as well. It really brought our community together.

Any words of wisdom or support for anyone particularly struggling right now? 

Go out for a walk, get out in the fresh air, don’t ever underestimate what the power of a long walk can do to your mood. My dog has been loving the regular long walks we’ve been on throughout lockdown.

How have you stayed engaged with your East London community during this time? 

It’s so important to support the community and local businesses at such a difficult time for many. I’ve been helping a couple of vulnerable people who live on my street. Simple things like checking in, making sure they have everything they need food wise, it’s the little things that help the most.

Do you have any favourite East London businesses doing great things that you’d like to shout about?

I’m loving the new steakhouse restaurant and takeaway called Tomhawk. They serve amazing breakfasts, and the staff are so lovely.

Please share any exciting projects you’ve been working on during this time, as well as information on how readers can support you and your work right now.

We have a lot of new projects we are currently working on, particularly in listed buildings. One of our projects is installing an antique Italian fireplace into a modern kitchen space, I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished project.

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