On the edge of Wimbledon Common, overshadowed by the rather forward Cannizaro House, there is a simple white door set inside a plain brick wall. I have walked past many times, but have never noticed it there before.
A few weeks ago I had the immense pleasure of being invited in to see the house and view the stunning work of the two artists who live there.
Carol spent many years as a painter, and still paints, but there has been what she describes as “a gradual seepage” into precious and semi-precious metals and gems. All her work is characterised by contrast, mixing representational and abstract in her painting and rough hewn stones with highly polished metals in her jewellery.
John is an established artist with work in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery and Westminster Abbey. I simply know him as my personal trainer’s Step Father and I got a little shock of excitement the first time I saw his work – even just on a computer screen.
He is collected by Brian Sewell (so I can’t quite claim to have discovered him!) but it is lovely that he is a local artist living in Wimbledon …”these paintings will never be the stuff of fervid controversy in incomprehensible art jargon; they are images in which to live in peace as they become old friends” Brian Sewell.
This painting is of “Sea Gulls on Rushmere Pond” on Wimbledon Common, which is overlooked by the house.
When I visited we went straight upstairs to the studio which is divided into “his and hers” separate areas with a common creamy Farrow and Ball floor (water-based so easy to apply) linking them together.
The huge mirror on the main wall (you can see it behind the painting) opens up this otherwise enclosed space and is a great idea to copy in a windowless room. They added the rather grand embellishment on the top themselves.
There are also two bedrooms on this floor. The first is the guest bedroom, which also contains lots of their wonderful art and special pieces.
There wasn’t any spare cash when the home was purchased and so they have definitely made the most of everything. The sink in the guest bathroom was two separate pieces of furniture that they found, sent away to be stripped and then repainted.
The cupboards and walls are all painted in the same grey to retain a clean canvas and make the most of the space and the unifying painted floor flows throughout.
The painted surfaces are also practical and hard wearing – which is perfect as they regularly welcome friends and b&b guests to stay (www.risingsunbandb.co.uk).
There is more painted furniture in the gorgeous master bedroom, a testament to the rewards of being brave with colour. You don’t have to stick to pale colours in smaller rooms – work out what you like and then just go for it!
The room could have been dominated by dull wardrobe doors. But Carol used them as another canvas for enhancement by choosing to feature a traditional ancient Chinese wallpaper design of birds and flowers.
It is a well known design which she simply adapted to work in this room. If you don’t have the same level of painting skill you could also find an image in a book or on a piece of wallpaper and create your own stencil template to use time after time.
I am fascinated by the relationship between home and personality and it intrigued me that here home and art merge into one… and nowhere more so than in the downstairs loo!
This has to be my favourite room in the house. A tiny room has been transformed into a different place and a different time, full of life. Fabulous!
The kitchen is largely as it was when they moved in twenty years ago, except for all the paintings that adorn the walls and the cockerels on the kitchen doors (which Carol only allowed John 2 minutes to paint so that they would be fresh and natural, rather than over painterly!)
Every room has a lovely style of it’s own. The elegant furniture in the dining room is offset by the strong but simple use of green. The radiator is hidden away in the same colour (can you imagine how much it would have stood out in white?) and the ceiling blends in beautifully also.
It also has the added detail of a broken mirror that was transformed into a decorative finishing touch on the ceiling.
Built as an inn in 1730 the back of the house leads into a gorgeous garden that is now showing the fruits of years of love and care.
And like the main house, despite the aspirational quality of the work it contains, it is supremely comfortable, warm and welcoming – in fact frankly I would love to live there….I may well be booking in!
Finally, as an aside, I just thought that you might like to see an example of Carol’s stunning jewellery designs:
Carol Ann Dickson: www.carolanndickson.co.uk
John Whittall: www.artistlondon.com
Rising Sun B&B: www.risingsunbandb.co.uk
As I mentioned, I met Carol Ann and John through my personal trainer Sam of Overload Fitness: Just in case you are interetested here is her contact too: www.overloadfitness.co.uk