NEVER- END­ING STORY

Ev­ery room in this Re­gency apart­ment in Chel­tenham is full of un­ex­pected finds

25 Beautiful Homes - - CONTENTS - Fea­ture REBECCA MORRIS | Pho­tog­ra­phy HEATHER GUNN

When you step into Di and Nigel Br­ere­ton’s Re­gency apart­ment in Chel­tenham, there is a strong sense of con­fi­dence and style. In the sit­ting room, as your eyes take in the ceil­ing height and the light flood­ing in from four gen­er­ous, shut­tered sash win­dows, you be­gin to no­tice the state­ment pieces in the room – the chic black leather sofa, the grand mar­ble fire­place and the nu­mer­ous art­works. And these are just the tip of the ice­berg – there are trea­sures wher­ever you look. But the ge­nius of this home is that in no way is it an as­sault on the senses, as ev­ery piece has its place. Each el­e­ment has been care­fully po­si­tioned with un­der­stand­ing, a light­ness of touch and hu­mour, and some­how the over­all feel­ing is one of calm.

AricH His­tory

Di and Nigel run The Di Bridges Part­ner­ship, a head­hunt­ing busi­ness cen­tred on the fash­ion and de­sign in­dus­try, and their work takes them all over the world, giv­ing them plenty of op­por­tu­nity for shop­ping. Ear­lier in her ca­reer, Di was an an­tiques and arts dealer, so the cou­ple’s home, which they share with dachs­hund puppy Peggy, pays homage to her decades of work in art and de­sign. Be­hind ev­ery item is a story. ‘ We found a leather chair in a flea mar­ket in France for €100 and carted it back to the UK in a van,’ re­calls Di. ‘The din­ing ta­ble sits on tres­tle legs used to sup­port stretch­ers in the Se­cond World War. I spot­ted the In­dian side ta­bles on Por­to­bello Road in the Seven­ties. We have a paint­ing of a Chi­nese baby from the Eight­ies where only one of his eyes is open, which ref­er­ences China’s one baby pol­icy. The lamps used to be hat­stands and we had them con­verted.’

Mov­ing from a Cotswold vil­lage to Chel­tenham four years ago, Di and Nigel were drawn to the im­pres­sive pro­por­tions of this apart­ment and its cen­tral but leafy lo­ca­tion in the town. Built in 1832, their build­ing was a board­ing house for Chel­tenham Ladies’ Col­lege for a time and was con­verted into flats around 30 years ago. When the cou­ple took on one of the ground-floor apart­ments, ev­ery wall was painted mag­no­lia. ‘There were four aw­ful, pur­ple chan­de­liers that just had to go,’ re­calls Di. ‘ We painted all the walls a dif­fer­ent shade of white so that the con­tents of the rooms would pro­vide the pal­ette and con­trast, rather than a busy wall­pa­per or strong colour. And we chose our light­ing very care­fully, steer­ing clear of what might be the ex­pected thing for a Re­gency build­ing.’

Di’s love of all things dif­fer­ent is key to her style, and she prides her­self on the fact that she is not afraid to jux­ta­pose the most un­likely pieces. ‘ We have a £90 Seven­ties side­board in our draw­ing room, along­side Moor­ish, Dan­ish, In­dian and French fur­ni­ture, and Art Nou­veau busts,’ she says. ‘I firmly be­lieve a beau­ti­ful thing is a beau­ti­ful thing, whether it’s a bar­gain or ex­pen­sive, brand new or an­cient. And pieces will sit with great hap­pi­ness to­gether if you just con­sider how you’re plac­ing them and why.’

fu­ture PLANS

The Br­ere­tons have had many homes and also own a bolt­hole in Corn­wall. ‘Mov­ing house gives new life to things we’ve had for decades,’ says Di. ‘Items are rein­vented in new sur­round­ings. Some are put away in stor­age and some pieces we haven’t seen for a long time come back out. The one thing I al­ways find a place for is my din­ing ta­ble. We’ve had many dif­fer­ent sets of chairs around it over the years but the ta­ble has been con­stant in all of our homes.’ Di’s lat­est piece of fur­ni­ture is a strik­ing sofa. ‘ We’re look­ing to move back to Lon­don soon and I’ve al­ready found the per­fect spot for it. I think it’s an­other piece that’s go­ing to be with us for years.’

DE­SIGN TIP ‘Be brave. Find pieces you love from all pe­ri­ods in his­tory and sim­ply bring them to­gether’

KITCHEN-DINER Gloss han­dle­less cabi­net doors help keep the look sleek and un­fussy. Vin­tage din­ing chairs by Hans Brat­trud, price on re­quest, Pa­mono. Mas­ters bar stool by Philippe Starck for Kartell, £232, John Lewis. For a sim­i­lar rug, try Ur­ba­nara, from £169

GUEST BED­ROOM An an­tique In­dian bed is the main fo­cus in this light and airy room. grey flo­ral em­broi­dered cush­ion, £24.99, tk Maxx. try Zara home’s ca­ble-knit cot­ton blan­ket, £39.99

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