A quirky, theatrical home in Bristol
Interior designer Cassie Nicholas has filled her Bristol home with dramatic colours, quirky artworks and characterful antiques, transforming it into the perfect framework for her online antiques business. Feature Sophie Hannam. Photographs Claire Bingham.
The living room
The front room is painted in Rippled Jade by Johnstone’s and creates a striking backdrop for Cassie’s artworks. The fire surround was sourced from The Giant Shepton Flea, and the armchair is from Ardingly International Antiques & Collectors Fair.
Victorian double doors split the living room from the kitchen-diner, making the space feel cosy
Cassie and Edd built the entire kitchen themselves using reclaimed materials. The cupboard shells came from Bristol Wood Recycling Project, vintage parquet flooring was recycled as worktops and they used old fabric to create curtains instead of doors – even the appliances and sink came from Gumtree.
Cassie added picture rails throughout the house so she can rotate her collection of paintings (most of which are stock for her business).
This calming corner of Cassie’s kitchen-diner also acts as her office space. It features a zinc-topped antique dining table, a sofa from Sofa Workshop and a dramatic artwork by Conor Harrington.
The art studio
The quirky lean-to, watched over by a taxidermy flamingo, doubles as Edd’s art studio.
A taxidermy crow perched on an antique telephone by artist Polly Morgan was a wedding present and takes pride of place in Cassie’s hallway.
The master bedroom is painted in Sunset Rose by Valspar. The lace-trimmed curtain pelmet is antique and casts a dramatic pink haze across the room.
An antique textile hanging makes a statement in the master bedroom.
A decorative lamp table with a ruched shade adds drama.
Cassie changed the smallest bedroom in her home into a dressing room, leaving the plaster ceiling exposed and watering down a tester pot of pink paint to wash across the walls: ‘It’s a way to create a nice look for not a lot of money,’ she says.
Cassie indulges her love of old textiles throughout the house, layering colours and textures.
An antique shelving unit is perfect for her ever-changing stock
Only recently I was thinking about my childhood bedroom, and how similar it was to my bedroom now,’ says antiques dealer and interior designer Cassie Nicholas, gesturing to the swathes of plum linen that now top an ornate, carved Victorian bed in the master bedroom of her Bristol home. ‘My dad had panelled it in a kind of stained plywood with a scalloped edge, and I had this four-poster bed with a ruched lace curtain and pink bedding,’ she smiles. ‘I can’t think of anything more over the top – I suppose I’ve always had a slightly dramatic style!’
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When Cassie and her husband Edd first looked around the 1920s mid-terrace in Bristol three years ago, it had been stripped of all period details by the previous owners. But, after almost a year of house hunting, it was exactly what they’d been looking for. ‘The ceilings were really high and it gave us the opportunity to add features,’ she explains.
Spread across two floors, the house is full of surprises, with a lofty entrance hall, open-plan kitchen-diner, utility room lean-to (which doubles as Edd’s art studio) and a forest-green sitting room, which is pure Victoriana. ‘Initially, the ground floor was totally open plan,’ says Cassie, ‘which is why we chose to close off the living room with a pair of Victorian, glazed doors. I like cosy spaces.’ Upstairs there are two bedrooms: a cool bohemian double with sisal flooring, and the boudoir-style master – a theatrical study in shades of claret. There’s also a small dressing room and a family bathroom.
The house is a testament to Cassie and Edd’s DIY skills – they undertook most of the work themselves. ‘It was the only way we could afford to do it,’ she explains. ‘It’s been a learning curve – fitting plaster ceiling roses, plumbing a bathroom and learning to tile – but we weren’t afraid to give things a go.’ The kitchen is their finest work. Built entirely by hand from reclaimed materials, it sets the carefree, bohemian tone for the rest of the house. The patinated worktops are crafted from old parquet flooring and the curtains were run up from vintage fabrics. Even the sink, dishwasher and fridge (which Cassie spruced up with chalkboard paint) came from Gumtree. ‘It was a big deal for us to make sure we weren’t using too many new products, as we wanted the project to be as eco-friendly as possible,’ she says. ‘It also became a bit of a challenge – to see what we could find second-hand!’
Cassie’s personal style is entirely unique, and it’s a look that she honed when she competed on (and won) the BBC and Netflix series Interior Design Masters in 2019, receiving a contract to overhaul the bar at London’s Dorsett hotel as a prize. ‘I’m drawn to anything with an eccentric English kind of vibe,’ she says, citing the Bloomsbury Group’s Charleston Farmhouse as a point of inspiration. And, when it comes to antiques, she has no loyalty to a particular period. ‘Victorian and Aesthetic movement furniture looks great with mid-century pottery and Georgian embroideries – I’d never say that a piece from one era can’t work with something from another,’ she muses.
Furnishing her home in a bespoke way gave Cassie ample opportunity to create a backdrop for her antiques business, Dig Haüshizzle. While renovating, she lined the walls with Victorian-style picture rails so that her supply of artworks can constantly rotate, and displays of vintage china, framed needlepoints, taxidermy and lace curtains come and go as stock changes.
However, though her clients often ask when they visit by appointment, she assures us that not everything in the house is for sale. ‘It’s not about something being mine,’ she says, ‘because everything I own has already been somebody else’s, and eventually it’ll belong to someone else again. It’s just that some pieces are too special!’ Her favourite piece – a naïve plaster sculpture of a leaping horse that she sourced from the attic of a stately home in Monmouthshire – is a case in point. ‘The number of people who have asked if they can buy that horse!’ Cassie laughs. ‘It’s worth nothing, but I think it’s just the coolest thing. I’m always moving it around the house!’
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