Immaculate collections: Inside designer Simon Carter's home

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

With a magpie's eye for mirrors, jars and glassware, menswear designer Simon Carter is no minimalist. He explains why 'clutterism' rules

I have a perverse interest in getting builders in to demolish parts of the house. I was always into Lego and Airfix as a child, and maybe there's an element of that in it: pleasure in a fascinating process. I had a lot done when I bought the place. The neighbour said that the extension looked bland, so we even put an ironic pediment on it. It's called "the Pediment of Pretension".

But I also like order, mostly because not being able to find something drives me to distraction, but also because I've been working with small accessories for so long that you get to appreciate very small margins for error. The labelled kitchen cabinets are a case in point. They look good, but they were bought on the cheap from a builders' merchant. What lifts them are the handles. I couldn't find exactly what I wanted, so I had the factory in China that makes our cufflinks knock them up for me. Well, it's all about bashing metal.

It feels like everything has been done with the house now, so I'm thinking of moving again. That, and because I've been in Thornton Heath for 20 years. People end up in Thornton Heath, you don't choose it, even though it sounds so promising – that idea of families picnicking, children flying kites on the heath, when actually it has its quota of drive-by shootings. I came here because I needed the space when the business was starting up. Now we have a warehouse down the road, so I've stayed here so I can walk to work.

When I bought the house it was very run-down, a classic little-old-lady home. Nothing had been done to it since the Forties. But that blank canvas suited me fine. The previous owner asked if she could leave stuff here and I told her that was fine. Imagine a couple who moved here in 1937 and moved out in 1997 and never threw anything away. I filled three skips. But she left good stuff, too: a bed, a TV that works, an armchair we had re-covered, a tin splashback we use as flooring around the fireplace and other stuff I just have on display: old tennis racquets and cricket bats, as well as 17 first-edition Agatha Christies.

I was into motorbikes at the time and the cellar was full of mechanical bits and pieces, like a Norton workshop, and I thought that was a good sign. It's what made me decide to take the house on the spot. Later, I found a little model of a motorcyclist at the bottom of a wardrobe and it's become the house's lucky talisman.

But I have a pretty eclectic taste, anyway. The corbels in the kitchen were rescued from a church that was being pulled down, and the parquet flooring in the conservatory and the stained-glass doors were from a friend's house, though I also pulled one from someone's front garden up the road. And there's a lot of art around, but with no particular remit, everything from Vietnamese propaganda to old maps and the original deeds to the house.

Then there are the collections. There are the croquet cups, and then there is all the Cornishware, which I stopped collecting because the market shot up and it all just got too expensive, though it's cheap again now. It's very practical. I use it all the time. Then there are all the convex mirrors up the stairs, which really come into their own when you have a spread of them.

And then there is the Whitefriars glass, which looks great in certain light. There's an extraordinary Englishness to it; in fact, it's typically British in being a company that for centuries ruled the world, didn't invest and then went bust.

I do like to have a lot of old things in the house, things which have a soul to them. I suppose I'm a fan of what I call 'clutterism'. It's a leaning towards things that are crafts-based when so much is mass-produced now. It gives a connection that more consumers are looking for. I have an old pendulum clock that was very basic in its day and keeps perfect time today.

I like old furniture, too, which either works in a room or it doesn't. There's no real theme to anything. Old furniture is just so much cheaper, too. We've used the same approach in our new shops: we were going to get in expensive purpose-built units and thought instead we'd just get in a load of old mismatched tables, and they look much more characterful for it.

My New World cooker has gone everywhere with me – it's in its fourth house now. Friends snigger at me when they see it, but I have the last laugh when some bit of fancy electronics in their oven packs up. That said, when the new is required, I go for the new; I wouldn't have a 1950s boiler, for instance – it's not some Amish home. It's good to have your own things, though, things that have meaning and personality, around you.

A home for me has to be comfortable, but also familiar and informal. A hotel can be comfortable, but it's not home. That's why I could never do minimalism. I'm a clutterist.

Simon Carter is the founder and managing director of the menswear accessories and clothing brand that bears his name. The company has just opened its first stores in London and Manchester. Carter lives in a Victorian house in Thornton Heath, south London.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee