A FINE LINE

In Kathryn and rob’s re­worked Ge­or­gian apart­ment, even the pared-back spa­ces are still full of clever and cre­ative touches

Living Etc - - CONTENTS ⁄ ETC - Photography ⁄ Ka­sia Fiszer Words ⁄ Jo Leev­ers

Kathryn and rob’s pared-back ge­or­gian apart­ment is full of clever and cre­ative touches

kathryn Bris­tow says that in an­other life she would have made a pretty good de­tec­tive. ‘I love a bit of in­ves­ti­gat­ing,’ she says – al­though she’s usu­ally in pur­suit of good de­sign rather than mas­ter crim­i­nals. ‘I can spend hours on­line, track­ing down a par­tic­u­lar vin­tage light or an item of fur­ni­ture. And if I can’t I find what I want, I’ve been known to make it my­self!’

This ground-floor apart­ment in Bris­tol, which Kathryn shares with her part­ner Rob Law and their chil­dren, Ida, four, and Rafe, two, has cer­tainly ben­e­fit­ted from her sleuthing skills. Spe­cial pieces in­clude vin­tage Ber­toia din­ing chairs and a Lis­soni sofa that spreads out on an epic, luxe scale.

Mean­while, a sim­pler cof­fee ta­ble and a sculp­tural mod­ern chan­de­lier demon­strate Kathryn’s knack for im­pro­vi­sa­tion – the lat­ter was fash­ioned from welded me­tal pip­ing and light bulbs. Even the din­ing ta­ble is the re­sult of Kathryn ‘hav­ing a very clear pic­ture of what I wanted in my head but not be­ing able to find it’. The so­lu­tion? She found a re­claimed church door that was ex­actly the right size and shape and then got a lo­cal forge to make steel legs for it.

This cre­ative ap­proach is ev­i­dent through­out the flat, which Kathryn and Rob bought seven years ago. ‘We weren’t look­ing to move be­cause we hadn’t re­ally fin­ished do­ing up our last place,’ she says. ‘But I idly picked up the lo­cal prop­erty pa­per and there was a half-page ad for this flat. All it showed was the view from the back gar­den – but I im­me­di­ately wanted to see more. I knew it would be good.’

The flat’s pre­vi­ous style was a ‘con­ve­niently blank can­vas,’ says Kathryn. ‘In fact, it was so plain that Rob ac­tu­ally thought there was no­body liv­ing in it. In re­al­ity, they were just very tidy peo­ple who weren’t par­tic­u­larly into in­te­ri­ors.’ How­ever, all that bland­ness meant the cou­ple felt no com­punc­tion in rip­ping out the bath­room and kitchen and mak­ing an im­pact with their own style. Her­ring­bone par­quet re­placed the ex­ist­ing floor­ing, which was largely car­pet over con­crete (‘but the bog stan­dard ver­sion, not cool con­crete’). The cou­ple also knocked through from the liv­ing room to the kitchen and, most re­cently, added a mas­ter suite in a two-storey ex­ten­sion.

This sleek ad­di­tion was built into what had been an en­closed, high-walled court­yard and has a large bath­room, a dress­ing area and the bed up on a mez­za­nine level. ‘I wanted it to feel like a grown-up space,’ says Kathryn. Skinny steel balustrades and a me­tal stair­case keep the look sharp in both the bath­room and the bed­room above. ‘For me, the more pared back a space is, the more rest­ful it feels,’ she says.

But even with its grey walls and me­tal el­e­ments, the mood in this home never veers into feel­ing too cold, with flour­ishes of cre­ativ­ity dot­ted around. The Smeg fridge comes in an acidic lime shade, matched by the paint on the front door. A wall clock tick-tocks away without the need for con­ven­tional nu­mer­als, and a mes­sage in de­cal let­ter­ing greets vis­i­tors as they hang up their coats. En­ti­tled Le mur du couloir (the cor­ri­dor wall), the para­graph itemises the qual­i­ties, uses and ex­act colour of said wall. ‘I loved it when Stu­dio Be-poles cre­ated ev­ery­day ob­jects such as pa­per bags and boxes of matches and listed the “in­gre­di­ents” in beau­ti­ful ty­pog­ra­phy on the out­side,’ ex­plains Kathryn. ‘This is my not-so se­ri­ous trib­ute to that clever idea.’

Ul­ti­mately, this is a home that doesn’t take de­sign too se­ri­ously. ‘I love our in­vest­ment pieces, like the sofa, but noth­ing in this house is off lim­its,’ ex­plains Kathryn. Which is just as well be­cause Ida and Rafe also love the sofa, but for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. ‘In their eyes, we’ve bought them their very own soft-play area – and they can’t be­lieve their luck.’

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