I hate saying this because I think I say it a lot, and one might think that I am being disingenuous. But I adore what Cat & Ben have done with Cart House. They have a superb eye, and their talent for sourcing fetching items makes me jealous/ excited to see them. I have been a fan for a long time, and I am sure my Instagram & email correspondence would be back me up. However, it might be a little boring for the dear reader. Anyway, as this newsletter had a bit of a Somerset theme, I thought I'd see if Ben & Cat were willing to show us around their home in Bristol. We got lucky as they agreed, and I am kicking my heels with happiness.
After taking a little break from London living, we hoped to move back but wanted to buy somewhere to put our stamp on. With London prices being what they are, we could only get a one-bed flat and a small workshop to store our furniture. So we decided to move to Bristol, it's close to family, and lots of our friends started relocating this way. Our friends weren't the only ones who had decided to move. It seemed half of London had the same idea, and viewings involved queues of people outside houses and, on one occasion, getting gazumped.
Whilst looking in a different area away from the crowds at a 1900s victorian terrace, we got a tip-off that the seller would accept a lower price, unheard of in Bristol - but we got lucky & our offer was accepted!
The catch - it needed a lot of work doing. The previous owner had lived there for 50 years, so it was covered in textured wallpaper. I don't think there's a surface left that hasn't been changed.
We predicted it would take about six months. We were wrong. We both worked part-time for a year and did as much of the work as possible. We ended up moving in after a couple of months which was a bit full-on, especially when there was no kitchen and an opening to the outside whilst we waited for the French doors to be fitted. All in all, it took around two years, although it was longer than we expected we learnt a lot in that time.
The kitchen has been through the most change with new sash windows and a pair of wooden French doors fitted and parquet floor which we laid ourselves. We've tried to add some character with old pot board shelves and window sills.
The ground floor was quite dark as it's a narrow house, so Ben fitted glass to the original pine doors and knocked through the living and dining room, making a huge difference. We had the alcove units added in the dining room as there weren't many period features. We like having the shelves to play around with and have started collecting pottery. We have a Paul Philp, Effie Gibson and Becky Nolan, and a few that Cat's made on the wheel.
Keeping the walls neutral creates a calming environment and has allowed us to add our constantly changing furniture collection. We've used a lot of low lighting around the house, making it cosy in the evenings. Luckily most of the original floorboards were in good nick, so it made an excellent excuse to keep as many rugs as possible before they make their way to the website.
One of the best finds for the house was a fantastic set of Hungarian shutters with flaky green paint, which happened to be a perfect fit for our bay window in the bedroom, adding character and texture.
At the end of 2020, our son Fynn came along, and that's changed how we live and use the house, our coffee table is now unused, and floor lamps are not safe!
The house works well for the three of us, and when friends come round too, there is ample space though we are toying with the idea of another project and a slightly bigger property. We shall see!