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L’esprit du décor - Meubles Graham Barry

L’esprit du décor - Meubles Graham Barry

Meubles Graham Barry, located on the Charente and Charente Maritime border, are celebrating 10 years of supplying furniture, making this a perfect opportunity to visit them in their astonishing showroom and discover the secrets behind their success

Who would guess that the tiny hamlet of Chez Moreau in the rolling vineyards between Cognac and St.Jean d'Angély conceals the treasure trove of pleasures that is Meubles Graham Barry?

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More than just a simple furniture store, the Graham Barry experience takes you on a journey through dressed rooms full of tastefully selected homeware accessories displayed on an eclectic mix of furniture styles, all of the best quality.

Yet the experience doesn't stop with a visit to the boutique. Owners Graham and Carolyn are celebrating ten years of  business this September, an accomplishment they can be proud of given the difficult economic times – and the reason for the friendly couple's success is obvious as soon as you meet them.

"We try to do things professionally and properly, to take that extra step to give the best service," says Graham, and it's immediately evident that their desire to please their clients comes from an inherent congeniality. Typically, when delivering a bed to a client who was abroad, he and Carolyn not only delivered the bed, they also took out the old one and even made the new bed, ready for the client's return. "We can't cope with doing things half-heartedly," says Graham, "which is why we never use third-party transport. We deliver personally to our clients and place the item exactly where the client wants it."

 


 

The showroom is actually a magnificent stone Charentais farmhouse and its outbuildings – originally used for pressing grapes by one of Cognac’s premier Cognac houses – converted by the couple during the early years of their business. There's nothing of the cold formality of a furniture shop here; as soon as you park outside the door and step inside, the beauty of the stone walls and the open wooden beams charms you. 

The first part of the 400 square metres of delight that await you is dedicated to kitchenware accessories, every possible surface crammed with intriguing items to suit every taste, and inviting you to browse, browse, browse!

Meubles Graham Barry

As you move towards the heart of the building, the intimacy of a cared-for home begins to enfold you, drawing you into an area of dining furniture dressed with tapestries, tableware and barware accessories, and then up a wooden staircase and into two en-suite bedrooms.

By now, you're feeling comfortable and relaxed, so it seems perfectly natural to come back downstairs and marvel at the Derwent suites on display, to look at the catalogues and consider the numerous styles and fabrics available. It's hardly a surprise if, when Carolyn isn't too busy, you're offered refreshments. How can internet shopping possibly compare with this experience?

When Graham and Carolyn launched the business in 2002, Graham having just retired from managing a trading fi rm in the Middle East, they began simply with supplying pine furniture. "The hardest part at the beginning was getting people to know we existed. We used every possible means of communication we could think of." They gradually increased the showroom size as they renovated the buildings using the profits from the business, adding the dining room after a couple of years and the bedrooms three years ago. The hard work paid off, as they now have a client base of thousands, of which 80% are French. "What really works is word of mouth from satisfied clients," says Graham.

They source their products worldwide, buying small quantities and changing products as soon as the range has sold out. This means regular visits to international shows to cherry-pick the most appealing products and to keep up with the latest trends – so there are always plenty of new items to discover, however often you visit. 

 


 

Although they're aware of the latest fashions, such as the current 'Industrial' trend, Graham and Carolyn provide a complete range of styles, as well as dozens of catalogues to order from, so there's something for everyone. "Choosing a particular style is down to individual taste," says Carolyn. "You just need imagination to make some things work." She cites the example of a black-and- white diamond sideboard that was bright red inside: "it certainly was a WOW item, not to everyone's taste, but it looked wonderful in the home we delivered it to."

Meubles Graham Barry

From spring to the autumn, new outdoor furniture ranges are displayed in the hangar area, this year also boasting an interesting range of outdoor clocks to add to the 3,500 items that make up their indoor showroom. And the couple have plenty more plans for the forthcoming years, including the addition of a virtual tour to their inspiring website, a loyalty card and perhaps more.

It's clear that Graham and Carolyn love their work, another reason that explains the excellent service their clients appreciate so much. "I don't have a problem getting up every day – it's like Christmas when I open the boxes," says Graham. "We have a great product, and the people here are lovely," he adds.e changes to the showroom.

The high quality you're guaranteed with Graham and Carolyn's furniture is not the only reason to make Meubles Graham Barry the highlight of your next outing: the quality also extends to the welcome that this solicitous couple are bound to give you.

Meubles Graham Barry

Originally published in Living Poitou-Charentes magazine April 2012 © All rights reserved

WORDS: Teresa Hardy PHOTOS : Courtesy of Graham Barry

MEUBLES GRAHAM BARRY

2 rue de la Brauderie, Chez Moreau,16370 Saint-Sulpice-de-Cognac. 

Tel: +33 (0)5 45 32 12 46 

www.meublesgrahambarry.com

The showroom is located in the hamlet Chez Moreau close to the main D731 road between Cognac and Burie.
Opening times: 10am - 12pm and 2 - 7pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays; other times by appointment