The Fab­u­lous Czain­skis put art and soul in their his­toric home

An artist hus­band and wife team have left their mark on this his­toric house and the re­sult is sen­sa­tional. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

RUS­SIAN oli­garchs, rock stars and roy­alty have all paid Paul and Chris Czain­ski to turn their walls into works of art.

The York­shire-based artists spe­cialise in dec­o­ra­tive tech­niques that in­clude hand­paint­ing, mu­rals, fres­cos, grain­ing, gild­ing, sten­cilling and mar­bling along with many of their own innovations.

Of­ten com­mis­sioned by well-known in­te­rior de­signer Nicky Haslam, they have cre­ated stun­ning decor for ev­ery­one from Ro­man Abramovich and Ringo Starr to Mick Jag­ger and the Roth­schilds.

The cost of their labour in­ten­sive artis­tic en­deav­our doesn’t come cheap but the buy­ers of their 17th cen­tury home, in a ham­let near Heb­den Bridge, will find it in­cluded in the £595,000 price of the prop­erty at no ex­tra charge.

The hall, stairs and land­ing walls are painted to re­sem­ble Vic­to­rian en­caus­tic tiles, while the steps to the sec­ond floor are trimmed with trompe l’oeil tas­sels. The bed­rooms walls are hand-painted and sten­cilled and the closer you get the more ex­quis­ite they are.

“Some­one may dec­o­rate over them and, of course, that’s up to them, but we hope they don’t,” says Chris, a re­cently elected mem­ber of the Ec­cen­tric Club.

Also in­cluded in the price is a folly in their enor­mous one acre gar­den. It is made from oak and mill­stone grit and con­tains a heated room with glass doors al­low­ing views over their land.

“We’ve used it for all sorts of things, in­clud­ing din­ing, sleep­ing and we even spent the first night of our hon­ey­moon in there,” says Paul.

Sadly, their fur­ni­ture, much of which is hand made by lo­cal crafts­men, is go­ing with them when they move.

The four-poster bed is a copy of one at Tem­ple Newsam house in Leeds and fea­tures painted cranes, sym­bol­is­ing faith­ful­ness in mar­riage. The wardrobe is a copy of one in the Vat­i­can Mu­se­ums and the grand­fa­ther clock is a con­vinc­ing fake, whose case opens to re­veal a spice cup­board.

The five-bed­room house is also full of Paul’s fig­u­ra­tive paint­ings along with Chris’s sculp­tures and pic­tures. Her “off the wall” pieces are of­ten made from found ob­jects and re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing egg shells, though the show­stop­pers in the din­ing hall are her shop dum­mies. One bot­tom half is dressed in leop­ard print leg­gings and topped with wood, mak­ing a ta­ble. Next to it is a man­nequin from Mum­bai found dis­carded in Lon­don’s Brick Lane, de­murely dressed to hide sexy curves that get male guests hot and both­ered.

This mod­ern art is per­fectly com­pat­i­ble with the ar­chi­tec­ture of the his­toric house adding warmth and colour to the solid stone fab­ric.

Paul bought Old Oats Royd in Lud­den­den in 1988 af­ter de­cid­ing to move from Lon­don, where he trained in Fine Art at Gold­smiths.

“The fax had been in­vented and sud­denly we didn’t have to be in Lon­don any more. We de­cided we could do busi­ness from any­where,” he says.

He was work­ing at the Duke of West­min­ster’s prop­erty in Cheshire when he spot­ted an ad­vert for the grade two listed house in the York­shire Post.

“I loved the lo­ca­tion and it re­minded me of Oak­well Hall in Birstall, where I grew up.

“There’s some­thing very ro­man­tic about 16th and 17th cen­tury houses,” he says.

Built in 1645 for the Mur­ga­troyd fam­ily, the semi-de­tached prop­erty needed work so Paul rewired, ren­o­vated and dug out the vaulted cel­lar that had been filled in. He took care to pre­serve the pe­riod fea­tures, which in­clude mul­lions, fire­places and an elab­o­rate wrought iron stair­case.

The only his­toric el­e­ment he re­moved was the gothic Vic­to­rian fire­place in the sit­ting room, which was “too Drac­ula”. It was re­placed with an ex­act copy of a stone fire­place in one of the bed­rooms.

“Al­though it’s not stone. It’s plas­ter and resin. It was an ex­per­i­ment but it looks authen­tic,” he says.

Teamed with a wood burn­ing stove it adds cosi­ness to a house they are sorry to sell.

The cou­ple, who have been mar­ried for seven years, want to buy their first home to­gether and need a smaller gar­den so they can con­cen­trate on new artis­tic ven­tures.

They are also scal­ing down the in­te­ri­ors projects to con­cen­trate on solo and col­lab­o­ra­tive work.

“It’s good to do a paint­ing and put your name to it. I want to do more of that,” says Paul.

“Plus when I first started with the dec­o­ra­tive work it was all old money. The client would shake your hand, pay you and ex­press ap­pre­ci­a­tion. Now it’s all about prod­uct. If they could buy it off the shelf they would as long as it’s dif­fer­ent from what ev­ery­one else has.”

When he and Chris work to­gether – they are billed as The Fab­u­lous Czain­skis, a ti­tle coined by the own­ers of Staithes Gallery, which stocks their art.

They have a sec­ond home in the coastal vil­lage, near Whitby, and they are open­ing the doors of the cottage to the pub­lic this week­end for the Pop Up Gallery event at Staithes Fes­ti­val.

Vis­i­tors are warned that there’s no need to watch out for the seag­ull above their front door. It’s one of Paul’s life-like trompe l’oeils.

“It’s fooled quite a few pho­tog­ra­phers into think­ing it’s real,” he says.

www. staithes­fes­ti­val. com; www.czain­; wwwczain­


The house fea­tures hand-painted walls and trompe l’oeils to­gether with a host of 17th cen­tury and Vic­to­rian fea­tures. It also has a sep­a­rate stu­dio and a gar­den room.

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