Objects of desire: Acclaimed antiques dealer Ken Bolan explains why so many people want to buy his house
Sunday 07 October 2007
It's remote in this part of north Somerset and when we moved here 23 years ago the house was almost a ruin. The original 18th-century interior didn't exist, so we had the freedom to build from scratch.
This drawing-room, dining-room and kitchen area was built about 10 years ago, and it's a wonderfully open space. All the doors out into the garden are 10ft high, opening straight on to a raised terrace, so in the summer we double our living space.
The decor doesn't necessarily follow any particular theme or period, but it is an expression of the things I enjoy - and they sit comfortably with each other. I go purely on my eye and instinct, such as when I spotted this 18th-century painted Danish cupboard for sale at an auction in Copenhagen almost a decade ago. The guide price was 3,000 to 5,000, but as soon as we started bidding it leapt up in thousands and at 22,000 I thought "That's it" and decided to stop. The auctioneer said, "I know there's one more bid in the room" and so I relented and bought it for 24,000. I found out later that a Danish museum had also been keen to buy it, so my instincts were right. These days my wife uses it to store her CD collection.
The marvellous bust sitting on top of the cupboard is of a boy aged around nine or 10, and it's nearly 2,000 years old. One day one of my children's friends looked at it and said, "I don't understand why you have all this old stuff,". So I explained: "Just imagine the day 2,000 years ago when it was brought home to the people who commissioned it and they placed it in pride of place in their house." Immediately you could see this kid's eyes light up because he understood, this wasn't just a dusty old object - it had lived.
Above all, this house is a home. It certainly isn't a museum. Over the years we have been hounded by people wanting to buy it - but it's never been for sale.
Ken Bolan has recently opened a London branch of his shop, Talisman, at 79-91 New Kings Road, SW6, tel: 020 7731 3146, www.talismanlondon.com
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