Having started their lifestyle and furniture brand just over 35 years ago Mark & Sally Bailey’s journey has seen them write several books, travel the World and inspire a generation of home creators with their paired-back modern rustic vibe at Baileys Home. We were lucky enough to spend a morning with the stylish shopkeepers at their shop just outside of Ross-On-Wye.
Sally Bailey greets me with the warmest of smiles and introduces herself. I admit to being a little awe struck and I tell her that I have read all of her books. I feel like a little girl meeting a pop star. Sally graciously tolerates my giddiness and introduces me to her husband Mark – probably glad to pass the over excited puppy off.
Mark is utterly charming and tells me how he is waiting for a friend who is popping in to help him hang several antique pedal cars from the roof of the main barn that forms Baileys Home. Mark is a craftsman, a designer, an artist and a furniture maker. He started an architectural antiques business with Sally and naturally moved into creating a general store, stocking an ever-changing collection of homewares, household hardware, stationery, cookware, food, clothing, lighting, antiques and textiles. They started in a small premises in Ross, which they grew out of 13 years ago, and they moved to a grander location a few miles down the road. The ramshackle farm was purchased from The Duchy of Cornwall and Mark & Sally set about and ambitious grand design and build to create a mix of spaces where they could design, make and sell their products.
“The barns were in a very poor condition and we decided to restore them with minimal impact and maximum environmental consideration.” Mark designed the spaces himself and managed the project. “We wanted to keep the finishes simple throughout, we used a mix of materials such as rough lime plaster, raw concrete and uncoated steel.” As you wander through the old threshing barn to the first floor you appreciate the size of the project, which took two years, and the attention to detail that was instilled in order to create a subtly modern interior with an appreciation of the provenance of the buildings.
Outside the main shop there is a tin tabernacled restored sheds, Shepherd’s huts and the newest addition – an 1850 Showman’s Caravan. Mark opened up the white, hand painted door and let us into the open-plan caravan, that he found through a little advert in the newsagents window, and our jaws dropped as we found a stunning interior. There is an Esso wood burning stove, two single beds, dining area and a little dest – my first flat in London was smaller than this, and not as pretty. “We have insulated the walls with sheep’s wool and we found old wish bones, penny pieces and other good luck charms. We left them all in.”
Mark’s energetic spirit is epitomised by his renovation projects as well as his stories of pop-up shops in Japan, photoshoots for his new book in the Nordics and his treasure hunting across Europe. Whereas he would source pieces for the shop from old factories in Leeds and Manchester Mark now spends time in Latvia, Hungary and Ukraine collecting interesting and beautiful products.
Over coffee and cake I listen to Sally’s stories of her lovely customers and staff. We hear how they had to succumb to getting mobile signal at their home in the Welsh Mountains and when they spent two years living in a Shepherds Hut whilst their homes was being renovated – although I doubt they were slumming it. Sally’s ever present smile is infectious and her passion for Baileys Home is at the centre of what she and Mark have created and built. It is a hectic time as they are in the process of writing a fourth book, which is published later this year, then there are plans to expand the range, sell a house and travel on an endless search for beautiful wares. We have no doubt that this formidable couple will continue to be amongst the leading lights of lifestyle shopping for many many years to come.
Whitecross Farm, Bridstow, Herefordshire