Our exclusive series starts with one of our original stockists Cato Cooper, owner of the Cato Cooper Workshop, which is a hub for up-cycled furniture and décor based in Wellington, Somerset. Her immediately recognisable style of deep colour, paired with industrial lighting and bare, rustic wooden furniture, created by her husband Sean, can been seen as a nod to her roots back in Holland.
All these creative ideas are paired perfectly with an eye for business, as the workshop sits within The Emporium Somerset, also owned by Cato and Sean, hosting 54 small businesses within a large converted Victorian chapel, taken over 2.5 years ago.
We caught up with Cato to find out more about what inspires and pushes her to produce the work she does.
On Cato Cooper Workshop
We specialise in restoring furniture and run a painted furniture and home accessories studio and workshop in-store here at The Emporium. It is amazing what people throw away that can be easily recycled, restored or upcycled.
Restoring a piece of furniture is like giving it a new lease of life and there are so many different things you can do to jazz it up. We rejuvenate an old, tired piece with a fun and bright coat of paint. We also run ‘Learning the Basics of using Autentico Chalk Paint’ workshops that are great for anyone wishing to update any furniture they might have at home.
On the beginning
I started painting when Sean and I bought our first home together. With a mixed style of furniture accumulated from two homes, I was determined to create a balanced look, so I started painting everything white, with any type of paint I could find. Then the children came along and the baby rooms needed doing up. So I started painting walls etc. Painting furniture was initially a necessity, then a hobby, but then it turned into an obsession! I started selling online and that was the start of our business.
On her painting process, inspiration and the must haves
I love this topic, I don’t have a specific goal, it all depends on the piece of furniture. I buy something that looks interesting and once I’ve studied it, I decide on a colour. I usually paint with bold and big colours because, I personally think, that piece then becomes more of a statement piece, rather than something functional that just blends in. For the best results, Autentico brushes are ideal, especially the 1 inch brushes. Stunning results.
I was born in Amsterdam but when I was a baby, my parents moved us up North soon after. Then my sister was born and we both grew up in a peaceful town. I still have my childhood friends living there, as well as my parents. In my early twenties I moved to London and never looked back. It was only supposed to have been for a year but I never left. We frequently visit Holland and it always feels like home when I do.
On her style
My home décor style would be described as bold, deep and colourful but all carefully chosen with Feng-Shui in mind (the Chinese system of flow and energy). Each room in our home has a different colour (or two) on the walls, to enhance the feel of that space. For instance, our living room is painted in Velvet Byzantine and Silver, so when the wood-burner is on, the house feels warm and cosy. Our kitchen is contemporary, so lots of greys, the walls are painted in Dolphin in Versante Eggshell, splashes of orange yes, I am a true Dutch woman and whites. Our bathroom is painted in Venice Lime with pictures of all the family on the walls. We love a mixture of retro and urban, so we combine Ercol with industrial lighting, most accessories are bought from our shop The Emporium Somerset.
On creativity in the family
It certainly does, both our dads are very creative with wood, we’ve learned from the best! Sean is a software engineer by trade and uses software to create some amazing pieces of furniture. He now works full-time for the shop and is the business brain behind it. I am front of house in the shop. I choose the businesses for the shop and look after the customers this is very much influences from my mother’s background.
On spare time
The shop is open 7 days a week so we have to carefully balance our work/home life. With two young children, this can sometimes be challenging but we try our best. I love the outdoors and try to take the kids out most Sundays to somewhere exciting.
On aspirations for the future
Always! We would like to expand on the paint, perhaps take on another shop and get the kids involved with the business. Our daughter Dixie is 9 but incredibly creative, so hopefully she’ll be able to work with us in the future.
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