My Home: Sheridan Coakley, designer
As founder of design store SCP, he furnishes London's hippest lofts. But for Sheridan Coakley, heaven is a monument to the decade that style forgot
Wednesday 04 October 2006
Sheridan Coakley set up the high-end furniture store SCP in London in 1985. Since then it has launched designers such as Matthew Hilton and Jasper Morrison on to the international stage. He lives in a house in Hampshire with his wife and two children.
We bought this house three years ago. It had been on the market for ages. The previous owner was so desperate to sell that he was considering knocking it down and building something neo-Georgian in its place that would hold more appeal to the public. He was delighted to find us, finally, and we were thrilled with our find.
It was built in 1975 by an architect named Harwood, who was based in Hampshire and built quite a few houses around here. I admire his achievements, especially considering that he was working in barren years for architecture when modern design was extremely unpopular. The previous owner, who commissioned the building, was an engineer and was involved in the design of the building. During that process, he did exactly what I would have wanted to do myself.
It's single-storey, built of engineering brick inside and out, with a roof built from Douglas fir - the house is very well specified in every detail and has needed almost no repair or refurbishment since it was built. It was delightful to move in here and start living, without any of the refurbishment mess traditionally associated with a move. The maintenance is low, with almost no decorating required because of the interior brick walls. The only area where the design is lacking is the insulation. The windows are standard 1970s double-glazed units, using glass of that era, without any of the thermal properties of modern glass, and the roof loses a lot of heat, so we will put that right sooner or later. All in all, though, it is a high-quality building and enormously lovely to live in.
My career began with a "vintage" stall in Portobello market, moving on to a shop in Westbourne Grove where I began to manufacture modern furniture, using the talents of new design graduates such as Tom Dixon [now the head of design at Habitat], Jasper Morrison and Terence Woodgate. This was at a time of a radical shift in style and we all happened to be there, in it, together. I began to bring in classics from Italy. The market was slow, but I made enough to be able to finance the setup of SCP. So our interior is furnished with items that we've accumulated over the past 30 years, often early prototypes and rejects.
In addition, the previous owner included a few good pieces from his own contemporary collection in the sale of the house.
Our bedroom has its original, solid rosewood fitted furniture from Heal's, beautifully made and looking better than ever. You couldn't make that now since you can't get your hands on rosewood anymore.
We also have the original woven-silk wall-covering and fantastic shag-pile carpeting - it's 40 years old, and so good to live with. I recommend it to everyone.
But while the bedroom has stood the test of time, the en-suite bathroom is a bit of a talking point. A 1970s fantasy, it has a huge round bath, with shag-pile-carpeted sides and swan-necked taps, double basins set into a piano-shaped unit, a phone-point and beautiful, huge metallic wall tiles. Although it probably deserves to be preserved in a museum, I think that as soon as we are ready to do anything to the house, the bathroom will have to go.
The kitchen is also original, fitted with solid mahogany Poggenpohl units, and the sitting room has a 40ft wall of windows, filling the room with light, and opening out completely on to the garden.
In here, one of my favourite possessions is a print by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. My father made Bazooka Joe bubble gum and was responsible for the funny little collectables inside the wrappers. Eduardo tracked me down in a hunt for a certain collection of the famous "Nutty Initials" cards, which I was able to provide him with. He was so delighted that he took this artist's proof from the boot of his car, signed it and gave it to me. I was thrilled.
Like most people, I wish I had more time at home. I am in heaven in my garden, laying hedges and planting trees. The garden is very big, more agricultural than aesthetic. All we really grow is hay, but we are trying to improve on this with planting.
It was a matter of unbelievable providence that we found our house when we did. I don't think we could have expected to find such a perfect example of our ideal home, waiting for us, in exactly the part of the country that we wanted to live in. It has everything that I have ever looked for in a home and I see myself as very fortunate.
SCP, 135-139 Curtain Road, London EC2, www.scp.co.uk; 020-7739 1869
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