South London pub chain, Antic, has long been leading the way in creating cosy pubs that feel like home, and it seems they’ve inadvertently revived the trend for shabby chic. The Resident meets their head of interior design to discover how to recreate the look at home…

Words: Trish Lesslie

With its cracked tiles and large blue lettering, the frontage of John the Unicorn looks more like a 1970s chip shop than the latest cool pub to open up on Peckham’s Rye Lane. The vintage aesthetic continues within with furnishings and bric-a-brac dating back through the decades. The old-school vibe has been taken quite literally, in fact, thanks to the presence of scuffed up science lab tables.

While the hotchpotch of styles could be migraine-inducing, the overall effect of the mismatched knick-knacks is homely rather than hectic. It’s also very much deliberate. ‘We try to create an atmosphere of familiarity within,’ says Dunia Goymer, Head of Design at Antic, the chain that’s also behind Brixton’s shabby-chic Effra Social, housed in the suitably retro former Conservative Club.

‘Recognising things you might have grown up with or come across in your lifetime creates a warmth and familiarity,’ she adds.


The sense of déjà vu instilled by Antic’s designs has undoubtedly helped spur the company’s amazing success. Since the launch of the East Dulwich Tavern in 1999, Antic has opened 44 more sites including The Tiger at Camberwell, which it transformed from an old geezers’ boozer to a cosy, friendly local. Several more London properties are in the pipeline including a new pub due to launch in Lewisham by the end of the year. But the clutter-chic look of the pubs can bring similar warm and welcoming qualities to our homes – whether period or contemporary.

In fact, Goymer is currently fitting out her own new-build apartment with some of her own vintage finds. ‘It’s probably not what people expect, but it adds interest and can bring more life to new-builds,’ she says. ‘Otherwise they can feel like living in a bit of a box – it’s what I felt when I first moved in. But with colour and pattern – and, say, throwing in some vintage curtains, lamps and furniture – it creates a lovely look.’

New-builds can feel like living in a bit of a box. But with colour and pattern – and, say, throwing in some vintage curtains, lamps and furniture – it creates a lovely look

Still, the prospect of pulling together a coherent aesthetic from eclectic second-hand finds can be daunting. If in doubt, Goymer recommends you take a single item as your starting point. In her new home, she’s working her sitting room around a pair of striking silky chartreuse curtains. A recently-purchased purple velvet sofa could have thrown a spanner in the works, but Goymer says you can always find a way to link colours, styles and textures.

‘The sofa didn’t really match anything I had, but I’m bringing in geometric patterns in bolder colours on cushions to try to draw everything together.’






Indeed, Goymer points out that simply by virtue of going for an eclectic look, you’ll find that ‘mismatched’ pieces can actually work well side-by-side. ‘Things just hang together because that’s the look you’re going for, which means you can be more adventurous,’ she says, before adding that you also need to be brave.

I think people sometimes play too safe with their homes and go for a very obvious aesthetic. But if we do something at Antic and it doesn’t work, we just redo it

‘I think people sometimes play too safe with their homes and go for a very obvious aesthetic. But if we do something at Antic and it doesn’t work, we just redo it. It’s the same in your home. If I painted my wall and thought, “Oh no – that looks terrible”, it’s not the end of the world. You just paint over it. I’d rather do that and create something that has the “wow” factor than something quite ordinary. You’ve got to just go for it and put things together that you wouldn’t necessarily think would work.’

Still, Goymer says you don’t need to go the full ‘granny chic’ monty to benefit from eclecticism in your home. ‘If you have, say, a lovely French Grey wall, think of adding some mustard or fuchsia to give a highlight,’ she says, ‘Simple touches like that – or a vintage lampshade on a modern lamp – can look incredible.’

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Dunia Goymer spends much of her time scouring everywhere from second-hand shops and skips to e-Bay for vintage finds. Here are a few of her favourite south London spots…

Aladdin’s Cave, Deptford From chandeliers to chairs, paintings, prints, frames and furniture, this appropriately-named trove is rammed with vintage buys. Allow yourself plenty of browsing time.
72 Loampit Hill SE13 7SX; 020 8320 2553

Crystal Palace Antique & Modern Twenty different dealers offer 20 different visions over four storeys at this warehouse-style showroom. Head to the basement for mid-20th century furniture. Stock changes daily.
Imperial House, Jasper Road SE19 1SJ; 020 8480 7042;

Second Time Around Don’t be put off by the white goods and office furniture on the pavement outside. Inside you’ll find some seriously quirky pieces, from furniture to figurines, to help you create an eclectic domestic look.
110 Lewisham Way SE14 6NY; 020 8469 0848;

Joli, Greenwich It may not have the best bargains, but you could find that elusive gem in this atmospheric treasure trove that is stocked with vintage furniture, fashion, rugs and objets d’art.
7 Nelson Road SE10 9JB;

Aamori, New Cross From vinyl and turntables to cutlery, crockery and glassware, this second-hand store is worth a rummage. Check out the selection of ornaments, knick-knacks and other cool collectables.
2 Wild Goose Drive SE14 5LL; 07801 253691

The Gallery, Brixton You’ll find the odd antique along with more recent vintage furnishings with a familiar feel, from dressing tables to chairs and chaises longue.
1 Wellfit Street SE24 0JA;