THE HOUSE THAT CAME BACK TO LIFE
A forgotten jewel is now revealing its true beauty, thanks to a little love, a touch of imagination and a lot of hard work
Who lives here?
This glorious five-storey house in Bristol’s Clifton neighbourhood is owned by Penny and Alastair Godfrey, who first saw it around 20 years ago. ‘When we bought the house, it was divided into flats and needed a complete overhaul to turn it back into a family home,’ says Penny. Since then, the couple have been joined by daughters Millie, 18, Poppy, 15, Alice, 13, and their cat, Bo.
Built in 1821, the house was structurally sound but needed a lot of work. ‘When I first walked through the door, I could see it had been neglected, but I could also see the potential – it’s at the top of a hill with fantastic views and great natural light,’ says Penny. ‘We did one room at a time, starting with the kitchen. We took down pine-clad false ceilings to reveal high ceilings with original cornicing, and ripped up the carpets to uncover wooden floorboards beneath. Over time, we’ve filled the rooms with pictures, books, rugs and random things from our travels, so the house has evolved – it’s like an old friend, full of memories,’ says Penny.
This first-floor reception room runs from the front of the house to the back with a dual aspect. One end is used as a sitting room and the other as a study. ‘Most of the furniture has been either inherited, such as the grandfather clock, or picked up in antique shops,’ says Penny. The walls are painted in Elephant’s Breath by Farrow & Ball.
‘The thing I love most about this house is the kitchen – it’s a nice, open-plan space where we all congregate,’ says Penny. ‘When the candles and fires are lit, this is a great room to entertain in, and so it’s often filled with family and friends. Cooking is not really my forte, so I’m extremely happy that Alastair and Millie are both really good cooks.’
Room with a view
The master bedroom has far-reaching views across Bristol. ‘I often work on my laptop from my bed – particularly when the warm, afternoon light is streaming in. We chose a neutral colour scheme to create a relaxed atmosphere and bought the bed, many years ago, from The Iron Bed Company. This room has the original fireplace and sash windows and its own private en suite bathroom.’
‘Our family bathroom on the top floor is used solely by our three teenage daughters, so you can imagine what it normally looks like! I love maps on walls and keep meaning to put more around the house, but we are rapidly running out of space.’
‘There’s a quote by Lillian Gish in The Poetry Of Home by Charlotte Moss: “If you were to ask what is important in a home, I would say memories.” I totally agree with this. I use the walls of our hall to display our family photos taken over the years, along with paintings and drawings the girls have done.’
Recycle, dim the lights (and don’t forget the wine!)
Penny has these five rules for a happy home:
Light candles and dim lights to welcome friends and family Buy throws to cover and update your sofa Recover, recycle and reuse Reflect your passions and interests Fill your home with cats, newspapers, people and (always) ice-cold beer and wine
‘Our guest bedroom has my all-time favourite wallpaper, which I bought at Habitat about 10 years ago – I just wish I’d bought more!’ says Penny. ‘We adore travelling, both overseas and within the UK, which I love documenting on my Instagram account, @madreonthemove, and I think this is also reflected in our home. I’ve always been interested in the Bloomsbury Set and their interiors such as Charleston, for example, so I have books and images by Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell dotted around.’
Full-height sash windows open on to the balcony at the front of the house
Penny Godfrey (inset, right) loves her ‘glorious’ townhouse in Bristol