As the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure and Charlie Porter certainly knows her treasure from her trash.
After a varied career working in charity and then interior styling, Charlie decided to follow her passion for flea-market finds and launched her Instagram account @tat.london as a full time job. Now, with over 40,000 followers, Charlie is a go-to for beautiful interior inspiration and keeper of sought-after treasures. Whether it's a floral wall sconce, Swedish hand-knotted rug or a vintage onyx bookend that you're after, Charlie has the key to making a house a home.
Tell us what Tat. London is, for those who have never heard of it before How did it all begin?
I imagine that might be quite a few people! Tat is an online vintage and interiors shop. Hopefully it's somewhere where everyone can find a piece of treasure or tat. It began as a reaction to being made redundant from my job at Kids Company; I was lucky enough to find a job with House & Garden soon after the redundancy though and, realising that my skills were better suited to interiors than fundraising, I decided I wanted to create something of my own. Something which was solely down to how hard I would work. The responsibility for Tat lies exclusively on my shoulders, and although that can make me feel anxious, I also find huge motivation.
Have you always been interested in antiquing/visiting flea markets and interiors?
I think subconsciously I have been. My mother has worked at House & Garden for 18 years or so. I think it was probably hard not to be fascinated, especially those moments in the school holidays where she would have to do recces of houses and I would shyly walk behind her as she would talk through the house with either the owner or designer. So yes, my interest has been there from a young age, but I probably hadn't realised that it meant so much to me. I now feel incredibly deeply about interiors, its something that genuinely makes me happy. When you find a designer you didn't know about, or beautifully executed room or even the pure form of a well-made knife, it's something that makes my heart bounce.
What are you top three flea markets/antique treasure troves?
Ah, that is tricky; they take many different forms. First off we will have to look at the marvellous Mill outside Chipping Norton. It is somewhere many people make pilgrimages to when visiting Gloucestershire. I bought a small oil painting there with my sister when we first moved in together. It was the first thing we put up in the kitchen, and it made us so proud. Secondly - this isn't necessarily a tip - but I have to say if you can, look at any car boot sales that you can find. Not quite right for the smarter purchaser, but I bet you will always find some glorious tat if you keep an eye out. Battersea & Chiswick Car Boot is both a bit of fun. Doing TAT now is very lucky, instead of going around to every auction house you can use excellent sites, such as Salesroom.com. Most recently I bought a beautiful pair of sconces, the only tip I can give is - do check the dimensions. I was quite shocked when I brought an oil painting, and for some silly reason, I had assumed the inches were cm so cut a long story short, a picture 2m x 1.5m turned up. A bit tricky to store..!
What would your advice be for someone looking to get the "Tat.London look"?
Mix ages, I look to people like Terrance Conran. His home Barton Court sums it up for me. It doesn't feel over-decorated, but instead, the look is collected. But saying that there are so many different styles that I like, I used to think I wasn't a modern kind of gal, but that's just silly to say as you expand your knowledge and eye it's hard not to be impressed with the 'New'.
What do you look for when finding special pieces?
I don't have a clue. It just has to have a little twinkle, and I am not sure what gives it that twinkle. Sometimes I think a piece has a twinkle and then slowly I realise it's an imposter, those pieces don't make it to the site, I get the ick from them, and they have to quickly be turfed off to the charity shop where they will hopefully twinkle at someone else.
Interior design seems to be having a bit of a moment right now – why do you think that is?
I worry about a moment, I am happy that people are taking a keen interest in interiors. I've benefited hugely from it. But I worry only as I think interiors is just such an essential thing in our lives that I don't want the moment to go. Anyway, I am sure I sound too earnest. Either way, its got to have something to do with Instagram, people can show off their home - in some cases to thousands and thousands as gives them some cultural cache. Similarily look at the Tat Instagram I have tried hard to present a curated set of images that represent my look and taste, and through that, I have managed to sell antiques and vintage pieces - it doesn't make sense, but it seems to be working.
What's that one piece you're trying to track down?
If there were a piece, it would be a terror for me to get it as I would never let it go. Which is what happened when I got my hands on Josef Frank 2560 Ceiling light, it didn't sell at the 8 Holland Street pop up, and I ended up keeping it for myself. One thing that I would love for myself would be the Frits Henningsen Sofa, currently on 1st dibs for thirteen thousand. I won't be holding my breath.