As Gail Marsh talks about the antique and vintage furniture business she founded six years ago, it's clear she has a passion for her work.

She smiles fondly as she describes some of the pieces she has discovered at auctions and markets and her love of Victorian sofas and window seats.

Growing up with a grandmother who had a love of antiques, Gail learned to appreciate fine furniture from a young age.

"My grandmother and her best friend used to drive around Liverpool, where they lived, out to all the auctions and antique markets, and just filled their houses full of antiques because they loved it," she remembers.

"As a result, her best friend's son became a very high end antiques dealer. So I was always around it and, as I was growing older, appreciated some really fine pieces.

"My grandmother would say to me 'let's go to this stately home and look at all the beautiful furniture'."

Gail's passion remained a hobby while she pursued a career in engineering, but six years ago she had something of an epiphany.

"I was the director of an engineering company, but I decided to change my career path", she explains.

"I had always bought beautiful furniture for the house from antiques markets or shops, because I loved it so much. I thought to myself 'why am I not doing it, if it's what I love?'

"I moved to a 17th century house and I just wanted to furnish it. I said to my husband 'I'm not going to do engineering any more - I'm going to buy and sell antiques'."

Gail began by going to local auctions - where she admitted she was initially terrified of bidding - but began to make contacts in the antiques world and then set up her own website for the company, which she named Chateau Rustique.

"I also was selling through other channels - word of mouth and also ebay. I pulled customers from all over the world, built up a good customer base who would come to me and say' could you source this?'. It absolutely flew.

"My house was jam-packed from floor to ceiling - the annexe and the stables. It was consuming my life - it was great."

Then, two years ago, Gail's father became ill and she took five months away from the business to care for him, before returning to build it up again once he recovered.

"It was quite good timing, because of the emergence of all the TV programmes," she says, "everybody decided they could be an antiques dealer. Ebay got flooded with junk, giving people a bad name."

The "lull" did Chateau Rustique no harm - and business is once again booming for Gail who, having moved to a smaller house, now rents a large storage facility for her furniture finds.

She has also formed a new partnership with Burley business Gem of England, a unique shop in the pretty New Forest village which stocks bespoke, handmade jewellery and textiles, as well as upcycled furniture and work by local artists.

"I've only been there since June," she says. "I've been in antiques centres before, but never in a shop that's been purposely for selling my stuff - as well as theirs."

Gail is making a name for herself in the industry and, while she is pleased at the success of Chateau Rustique, she is almost more thrilled to be sharing her love of antiques.

"Because I love the furniture myself, I want to sell it onto someone that loves it," she smiles.

While Gail is initially attracted to furniture she loves, she is increasingly working with clients to source specific items, and has also expanded to work alongside interior designers and antiques dealers.

"I also sell collectible bits and pieces from Victorian times or before," she says, "just odd, quirky things.

"An interior designer started me off on a new path - she bought some of my cigarette boxes. She said she was doing a few hotels in Bristol, could I find her stuff?

"There were other dealers coming in asking for things, so I'm setting up a website for interior designers and dealers - wholesale - which is just a gallery of what I've got."

Gail, who is also trained in making furniture and sets for theatre and works in a theatre in Winchester, admits she could expand the business further, but is keen to keep it small so she can offer a more personal service.

Her next project is finding a new house, which she can furnish with her favourite pieces.

"Georgian to Victorian, so 1700s to the late 1800s, are my favourite pieces of furniture," she says. "The wood - I go round stroking it. The smell of it, the feel of it, the look of something. Ive got a fetish for Victorian sofas and window seats.

"I buy things that have got something unique to them. They all tell a tale, which I absolutely love."

Chateau Rustique, based at Gem of England in Burley, New Forest