A farmhouse-inspired home filled with eclectic antiques
Sheridan Casson has transformed a derelict 1950s semi into an intriguing farmhouse-inspired home, filled with hoards of eclectic antique treasures and salvaged finds displayed in dramatic vignettes. Feature Naomi Jones. Photographs Brent Darby
Look away now if you feel that collections should be themed by colour, style or era, or if you think treasures must be arranged on perfectly polished pieces of furniture or safely encased under sparkling glass. And if you need a home full of clean lines, open spaces and pristine paintwork, then turn over.
If you’re still reading, then, like Sheridan Casson, your home is probably filled with objects that grabbed your heart at the antiques fair, junk shop or second-hand store – strange and wonderful treasure with which to make quirky vignettes. And you’ll understand the remorse that she so often feels when driving away from the fair leaving behind that one item that spoke to her, but was sadly left to languish on the stallholder’s heaving trestle table.
‘I am forever haunted by the things I didn’t scoop up, tuck under my arm and race home with,’ says Sheridan. ‘I can still bring to mind a cupboard with angels painted within hidden compartments. But equally the thrill of the hunt always sends me back out there, and when you visit regularly, you soon discover your favourite dealers, such as Dawn who has a stand at the flea markets in Bath on Saturdays, and at Shepton Mallet several times a year. I run to her first as she always has the absolute best quirky objects and textiles and I know I will always come away with something special, like the owl ink bottle that sits on my desk.’
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Scattered among Sheridan’s one-of-a-kind treasures are a few favoured collections that can be picked out on careful study of the family’s eclectic Somerset home. These include architectural details, such as corbels, shutters and window frames, well-thumbed books from colourful Penguins to Victorian hardbacks, and an array of exquisite yet worn old textiles.
‘I love fabric,’ says Sheridan, ‘and the more beaten up the better. I’m drawn to aged pieces that have been darned and mended, where you can imagine the work of someone else’s hand – that sense that someone has looked after it and made it last. Even something as cheap as an old sack or an apron.’
It may come as a surprise that the home in which these treasures live is not a country manor but a 1950s semi. ‘It is a far cry from our previous Georgian house,’ Sheridan says, ‘but that place always felt like a ‘pretty prison’ situated on a busy road that didn’t feel part of the local life.’ So when a house came up for sale in the historic village of Hinton St George five years ago, they knew that it would be worth the compromise to feel part of a close-knit community.
But they had to act fast as properties in this village don’t come on the market very often. Instead of knocking down walls and rejigging the layout as per their original plan, the Cassons renovated the spaces to create that cosy rustic ambience Sheridan yearned for. ‘I love that old French farmhouse feel where all the curtains are big and heavy, where nothing matches, often not even the rings on one curtain,’ says Sheridan.
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To that end, they took up two skips’ worth of ‘horrible pink nylon carpet’. They built a new kitchen from ‘a hotchpotch’ of salvaged wood, odd cupboards and shelves, and they completely redecorated the entire house using traditional paint. ‘Farrow & Ball’s French Gray works well as a backdrop for my collections,’ says Sheridan. This shade has also proved to be light relief for Simon’s eyes – Sheridan explains that his paintings tend to feature rich and bright hues, so after working in his studio all day he finds it soothing to come home to this softer colour.
‘We love our home,’ Sheridan says, ‘and a huge part of that is feeling a sense of belonging. We know our neighbours and are part of the community. Plus, this house is so much easier to take care of than an old house that requires constant upkeep. Now I have time to curate my house of curiosities and to create a bit of magic – to make an individual home in which to retreat from the world, removed from the mass-produced, the generic and the bland. Fostering antiques and vintage pieces allows me to do that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.’
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