In 2019 we launched the Flip Runway Awards to celebrate and acknowledge the brilliant creations of our talented community. The awards were open to all UK and Irish decorative furniture artists, refinishers and furniture painting creatives. The event was a great success, we had a fabulous time and we were thrilled to see our Flip Runway family partying together! With last month’s launch of the 2020 Flip Runway Refinishing Awards we decided it was time to catch up with some of last year’s award winners (carefully socially distanced by email) to find out what they’ve been up to over the last year. We’re pleased to say that the key theme is “busy”…

Alice Nickell (was May) – Home With Ally
Flip Runway Media Awards – Instagram Refinishing Photographer of the Year

Jay Blades – Jay & Co
Flip Runway Media Awards – TV Refinishing Artist of the Year
Flip Runway UK Media Awards – Best UK Refinishing Interiors Blogger
Flip Runway UK Recognition Awards – Services to the Upcycled Refinishing Industry

Kate Holt – Colour Me KT
Flip Runway UK Recognition Awards – Services to the Upcycled Refinishing Industry

Sarah Peterson – Sarah Peterson Design
Flip Runway – Natural Wood Refinishing Artist of the Year

Plenty of Fusion Mineral Paint has been sold and business has been booming for everyone, to the extent that Jay, Alice and Sarah have each taken on larger premises. 

Jay’s workshop moved to the rural splendour of Ironbridge, Shropshire, where the tranquillity is giving him the headspace to create his best ever work. “Being surrounded by nature is good for my soul”, he told us, a sentiment I’m sure we all echo. He usually has a whirlwind schedule filming three series for BBC One (Jay Blades’ Home Fix, The Repair Shop and its spin-off series The Repair Shop: Fixing Britain), making it all the more important that he has a calming, uplifting environment while he works on restoring his carefully chosen pieces. “It has been a great year for me in so many ways and I feel extremely blessed.”

Over the last year Alice has moved twice and is now occupying a 2,500 square foot unit. “We hope it will be big enough to house us at least for the next year or so”, she muses. “Our main aim now is to try and get ahead and increase our inventory.” Naturally this requires a little extra help, so they have just recruited their first member of staff and Alice’s partner has become much more involved in the business. “In the coming weeks/months you’ll be seeing much more from Home With Ally.”

Sarah’s move to a larger warehouse was slightly delayed thanks to the pandemic but has now gone ahead and marks the beginning of a new venture with her partner Alfie. “I was stuck in a bit in limbo having to close the shop and postpone the move. I really missed the day-to-day contact with my lovely customers but used the time in lockdown to work on projects for my own home.” She found projects that she could complete alone and, more importantly, for which she didn’t need to order any new materials. “My stock of Fusion Mineral Paint drastically reduced!”

The pandemic has changed life for all of us and nobody knows when it will all settle down, but our award winners are made of strong stuff! Jay, like many of us, found some solace in the solitude of lockdown. How did he adjust to being away from the bustle of filming for the BBC? “I’m usually filming five days a week, so having all this time has given me the chance to get my creative juices and flowing and invest time on developing the Jay & Co business.”

Alice and Kate both experienced an increase in online orders. Kate barely had time to catch her breath. “Not much changed for me as the demand for Fusion was crazy”, she wrote. “I now wish I had taken a couple of weeks out!” 

Alice loved the extra orders (obvs) but had a small logistical hurdle to cross. “Orders actually increased as many were using the spare time they had to sort out their houses and so we were busier than ever. Getting furniture was a slight issue as the French borders were closed and this is where I get a lot of my stock.” Her dealers in France did everything they could to help and she was fortunate enough to be able to keep up with demand. “Luckily I had quite a few items already up for sale and also in stock to keep customers happy and my business ticking over.” She praised the sterling efforts of her couriers, who managed to make their deliveries without any hiccups, all in accordance with government guidelines.

Our award winners have been kind enough to share the details of some of their recent projects with us. We feel a furniture showcase coming on, drum roll please… 

First down the Runway is this velvety Victorian sofa by Jay Blades.

“I’ve just completed a beautiful commission piece. I don’t mind telling you that it took my breath away when it was finished. I bought the Victorian sofa from a charity shop a few years ago and was waiting patiently for inspiration! The fabric I chose was Timorous Beasties Pinyin Tree Velvet, a contemporary representation of the spectacular blossoming of Japanese cherry trees. The print features graphic branches painted in ink wash with tufts of flowers gracefully softening the nervousness of the stems. To add the finishing touch, we painted the frame in Farrow & Ball Off-Black No. 57. It’s bold yet serene.”

The next piece for your viewing pleasure is Alice’s exquisite – not to mention elusive – English Edwardian sideboard.

“I had a lovely lady who was very keen on acquiring a Home With Ally piece and I was tasked with sourcing her an English Edwardian sideboard, which has actually become quite scarce of late. I secured one from one of my dealers only for some confusion to occur over the sale during the Covid pandemic and the sideboard was no longer available. My customer was happy to wait for another to be found and eventually we found one. After the hardware was removed and cleaned the item was sanded back from top to bottom using a high powered electric sander. I then made a mix of roughly 30% Fusion Raw Silk mixed with 70% water and made two applications using a brush. Finally I varnished the sideboard three times to ensure it was well sealed, and cleaned and oiled the insides. Once the hardware was reattached, the item was photographed and wrapped ready for delivery.”

Sarah gave a retro restyle to a record cabinet she had tucked away for a rainy day.

“I had a fairly beaten up record cabinet that had been sitting lonely in my workshop for months. With a tasteful restoration using Renfrew Blue and Coral it’s now sitting proudly in my conservatory. I love it!”

Kate brings us this striking MCM sideboard in bold contrasting Liberty Blue and Tuscan Orange.

So where do our Fusion family get their inspiration? “I love the work of Patience & Gogh and lots of our fellow Fusionistas”, wrote Kate. “I love fabrics and nature – lots of fabulous colour pairings there.” She’s in good company: Jay also looks to the natural world for interesting colours. “My biggest influence is nature. I love to both harmonise and contrast colour in my work. I’m no shrinking violet and like to stand out and be different in everything I do.” 

Sarah loves to experiment, to look at how colours pair with each other and work in certain lights, while Alice enjoys browsing curated examples of her fellow creatives’ work in print and online . “I love flicking through my monthly home magazines and spend an obscene amount of time on Pinterest and Instagram” she admitted. “Parisian interiors are one of my most influential design areas and it is such a timeless, effortless look”, adding “I find the Fusion stockists are great with sharing their knowledge and tips on certain techniques and methods, which is really helpful”.

Both Alice and Sarah cite Damask as their favourite Fusion shade while Kate tends to paint in Coal Black because of its enduring appeal to customers. Of course, anyone who knows Jay’s work should also know that Coal Black is his signature colour. “I always tend to paint with black as it allows the other colours to shine in my designs.” 

When asked what they think will trend in the near future, Kate and Sarah both acknowledge the continuing market for MCM furniture but Sarah thinks we could see this evolve. “There is no doubt in my mind that the furniture market is moving on in time with 1970’s and 1980’s influenced pieces coming into trend.” 

Alice leans towards the elegance of timeless materials and neutral shades and predicts that modernised antique/vintage furniture will continue to thrive in the coming years. “I’ve personally moved more towards whitewashed and limed oak furniture which I feel brightens vintage furniture whilst preserving the woody tones that lie beneath. I think neutral shades with nice textures will continue to dominate house interiors and marble-topped furniture plays nicely into this theme. I’ve been getting lots of marble items lately and it seems to be really popular.”

We are so excited to see what they all create over the coming year! We are proud to be able to work with them and we will watch with interest as their work continues to grow, bringing joy to their many clients and admirers. Who knows what’s on the horizon? Will Jay corner the market for televised furniture stylings, with a portfolio to rival Netflix? Will Alice use her monthly interiors magazines to build a Covid-proof fortress? Will Kate ever take that two-week break to catch her breath? Will Sarah’s record cabinet ever house the record collection it deserves? *Gasp*

Watch this space!