Image shows - Marissa Luckin, founder and owner of Dapple Grey Designs, working on an old French bread proofing table.

Creative Me – Marissa Luckin

Image shows - Marissa Luckin, founder and owner of Dapple Grey Designs, working on an old French bread proofing table.
Marissa Luckin, founder and owner of Dapple Grey Designs, working on an old French bread proofing table.

Under the Oak Tree is…

A meeting place for creative folk. Be inspired by their stories – and shelfies.

Marissa Luckin, the founder and owner of Dapple Grey Designs, is the queen of furniture restoration. If you are a tub chair that has lost your oomph, or a table that longs to host parties again – then you will want to wind up in her West Sussex workshop where she breathes new life into old pieces.

She joins us  Under the Oak Tree to talk furniture restoration, design identity and how she finds time to create…

1. What are you working on now?

As we speak, I am painting the door of my barn – to get it ready for my Christmas fair, which takes place on Saturday 9th December and Sunday 10th December. I want the barn to look great when it’s full of my pieces and also the items from the guest sellers I’m hosting for the weekend. This afternoon I will get back to restoring an old French bread proofing table, again to get it finished for the fair. I am turning it into a modern, rustic dining table and I think it’s going to look amazing.

Image shows - Marissa Luckin, founder and owner of Dapple Grey Designs, putting up her new sign at her West Sussex workshop.
Marissa Luckin, founder and owner of Dapple Grey Designs, putting up her new sign at her West Sussex workshop.

2. Describe your desk or workspace?

I work in part of a converted hay barn within a family stable yard near my house in West Sussex. It is surrounded by fields and gives me the space to think. It also gives me space to work – which I need because some of the pieces I restore are really large. I could never work on them at home.

3. What’s the soundtrack to your work?

It is really peaceful at the barn, which I love. But, I can’t work in complete silence – I have to have the radio on. I listen to BBC Radio 2 or a local station called Spirit FM, because I like to know what is going on in the area.

A table full of vintage delights in Marissa Luckin's workshop.

4. Who or what inspires you?

Being outside and being surrounded by nature. And trips to France! I always come home inspired by the buildings and architecture, which I then channel into my designs.

5. What do you need to create?

Time. It is the biggest single thing for me – and the one thing that I lack. I also need energy. Time and energy – two things that are quite hard to guarantee when you have two busy, young sons.

I also need the help of my husband, Matt. He helps me lift the big pieces of furniture when I am working on them in the barn and helps me with deliveries to clients.

Image shows - Marissa bought a roll of hessian, which she printed with vintage French stamps, to create an eye-catching ceiling for her workshop.
Marissa bought a roll of hessian, which she printed with vintage French stamps, to create an eye-catching ceiling for her workshop.

6. What time of day does your brain come alive?

About 9pm, which isn’t really that helpful. It’s after the boys are in bed. I sit down on the sofa and then my brain starts whirring. I find it hard to switch off.

7. What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you do?

Find your own design identity, believe in it – and stick to it. I get inspiration from lots of other designers but it is a challenge to stop their style influencing your own. I choose dark, mysterious interiors and I like the idea that people who know me can see a piece I have worked on and know it is one of mine.

Patience

You need patience too. For the first few months you will spend money on buying stock, you will spend time working on it – and you might not sell anything… for months!

Marissa styling up a vintage sleigh in her workshop.

8. What do you do when you lose sight of your inspiration?

I walk away and I might not come back to it for a couple of weeks. I have only learnt that recently, after past mistakes where I kept plugging away on a piece even though I wasn’t really ‘feeling it’ – and then didn’t like the finished result.

So, now I leave whatever it is. I might even go in search of a new piece, a new project.

9. Tell us one thing about yourself that no one would guess?

I wish I could have been a singer. I am not saying I can sing, just that I did want to be a singer.

Oh, and I am learning to play the guitar at the moment, I don’t think many people know that about me.

Image shows - Rustic wreaths for sale at Marissa Luckin's Dapple Grey Designs workshop.
Rustic wreaths for sale at Marissa Luckin's Dapple Grey Designs workshop.

10. What’s next for you?

I want to finish my interior design course. I also want to hold more selling days, maybe seasonally or even more frequently, so that they get bigger and can attract more visitors.

When you are in a rural location, and people don’t know where you are, you need to work harder to draw visitors to you. I hope that by hosting other sellers and offering a really good range of furniture and gifts, more people will want to come.

* See more of Marissa Luckin’s work on her Dapple Grey Designs Facebook page. Or contact Marissa on (07899) 002932.