My home: Cressida Granger
The owner of the Mathmos lamp company lives in a thatch - but her interior is light years away from chocolate-box chintz
Wednesday 21 September 2005
We spend part of the time in our home in Islington, but as much time as we can here in Bridport.
We bought the house about eight years ago. It needed a bit of structural work and rewiring, and we put in the kitchen and the bathrooms, but the rest was all cosmetic.
Fundamentally, it was perfect already; it's a ridiculously beautiful clichéd thatched cottage. The village has a pub, which serves delicious food, a school and a church and a very rural feel to it. There's also a healthy mix of people of all ages, most of them very friendly. Because this was bought as a second home, we could afford to spend time here while the works were going on, and were able to treat it like an adventure. We had two deck chairs, which we shared with friends when they came to stay, and the whole place was really basic.
The kitchen has taken shape around a butler sink, set into a huge piece of Victorian slate that I found in an antique shop in Islington. We built simple brick pillars to support it.
There's an old mahogany haberdasher's cabinet in here too, but the fabric swatches have been replaced with mustard and jam jars.
I found it in Bermondsey market, in the days when you could still find a genuine bargain, before it became a loft-dweller's paradise. We replaced the old, exploding Raeburn oven with a newer version. The walls are rough plastered as they would have been originally, and the floors are the original flagstones, extending through the opening into the dining room. In here there's a lovely fireplace made from the local, honey-coloured sandstone, with a huge wooden lintel. The dining table is a refectory table, a bit of a fake, as it's made of old floorboards on a base. The chairs are old school chairs.
We have a beautiful red Capellini light, designed by Marcel Wanders. This is a small one, about the height of a person, but we have a giant one in white, in the living room.
The walls in here are a dark glossy green up to dado height, with white above, enlivened with violent splashes of red, from the lamp and the corduroy cushions in the window seat. There are shutters on the windows, which look out over the overgrown garden.
When we bought the house, the living room floor was old sisal, glued on to concrete. We took the floor level down to install a damp course and then laid the wide elm boards, found in a reclamation yard in Bath.
A team of local builders did a beautiful job, plugging every screw-hole perfectly. I'm delighted with it. Matthew Hilton designed the sofa for SCP, and it's huge and comfy, sitting happily with the brownish, 1950s tatty Italian leather chairs. We've also got two armchairs from the 1920s, upholstered in brown and grey corduroy, and a Victorian consultant's couch, originally from my Grandfather's house, made of mahogany and wicker. And there's another draper's cabinet, with books in it.
This home is quite different from our town house; it's deliberately designed for relaxing with our friends, their kids and dogs. I love the mixture of old and unusual, with a few nice modern bits thrown in.
One of my most precious possessions hangs on the wall in here. It's a photograph of my father, when he was only three, standing in a wastepaper bin and on the floor, below it, is the same bin which I now use to keep firewood in.
There's a Mathmos light in here, from the Azumi range. It's called the Airswitch AZ, a floor-standing glass light, and it's operated by hand movement across the top. You can also wave your hand vertically to brighten or dim the light, which is endlessly entertaining for visiting kids.
Our bathroom has the bath in the middle of the room, facing the window and the view out over the hills. I have a collection of white French ceramic hooks and holders for bathroom stuff, from Port de Vanves, a flea market in Paris. Early in my career, I dealt in 1960s furniture and lighting and spent a lot of time in Paris flea markets.
The floor is stained a dark brown, and the windows are hung with white muslin. I am lucky to be in possession of a beautiful Queen Anne mirror that hangs in here, stolen by me from my mother. The French ceramic wall lights were from LASSCO, the salvage company, a previous employer of mine.
One of the most unique aspects of the house is the elm panelling on the walls of our bedroom. It's made of vertical planks that link into each other. When they were being refurbished, we found an old penny hidden behind them, dated 1870, the year the house was built.
There are lovely views from the windows, so perfect, in fact, that it's almost comical; an architypal hillock decorated with cows, with a little crown of trees, like a Londoner's impression of the countryside.
The big bed is from Ligne Roset, and the white curtains are hung on walking sticks. The wall lights are old Victorian shop-fittings, made from silvered glass.
I'm lucky to be able to spend so much time here, due to the fact that I have an office nearby, at the Mathmos factory in Poole as well as another in London. I still spend more time than I would like on the M3, but I can't complain.
Mathmos are exhibiting at 100% Design (open to the public 25 September; 0870 1612126)
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