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At Home With an Icon: Sustainability & Style with Carry Somers

Walls: Edward Bulmer, Verdigris , Flooring: Ted Todd, Versailles parquet from reclaimed French oak , Sofa: Duresta x Matthew Williamson , Henequen Curtain Tassel: @angeladammanyucatan , Tapestry Cushion: Rachel Slaney , Book: The Art of Revolution , Mirror: Vicente Hernández, San Martin Tilcajete, Oaxaca, Mexico , Mug: Vintage , Painting: Robert Seven, CHAF, a compendium obscura of man’s addictive anomalies , Jumpsuit:, made by @HMCMexico , Venetian slippers: Peter Pilotto x Ludwig Reiter.

Nestled amidst the verdant beauty of Rudyard Lake, sits a home that reflects not just a life, but a symphony of travels, artistry, and conscious living. This is the haven of Carry Somers, renowned author, champion of sustainability, and co-founder of League of Artisans, where modern chic dances with rustic charm, and every corner tells a story.

Stepping into Carry's home is like embarking on a vibrant journey. The backdrop, a 1940s detached dwelling, wears its age with elegance, embellished with art deco flourishes reminiscent of its former archaeologist inhabitant. Antique rugs and furniture add warmth, while textiles from Peru and Mexico burst with color and pattern, a testament to Carry's wanderlust and love for Latin American folk art. The walls, splashed with Edward Bulmer's eco-friendly paints, offer pops of green, verdigris, and the intriguing "cuisse de nymphe ému," each shade echoing the natural world that envelops the house.

Windows: antique stained glass, double glazed , Cooker: Lecanche , Dress: Anna Mason, dyed with dandelion and daffodil by @kateturnbullalchemist

Carry, your home is a beautiful blend of modern design and rustic charm. How does it reflect your personal style and how does it influence your creative work?

“My home is an amalgamation of my life and travels. The backdrop is a 1940s detached house, in a gorgeous setting by Rudyard Lake. But it is so much more than that, because the previous owner, an archaeologist, was a lover of art deco, adding many features from that period, such as fireplaces, light fixtures, and door handles. He was kind enough to leave us some stunning furniture and rugs. Then I have layered on textiles old and new. There are tapestry and embroidered cushions; antique Peruvian mantas and ponchos; contemporary ceramics and lots of vintage pieces from Leek’s fantastic weekly antiques market. Some of the paintings are by my grandparents, both artists, while others were collected by my husband’s grandparents, but the majority are from various Latin American artists, picked up over three decades of travels. I have to admit to something of an obsession for Latin American folk art: Peruvian and Mexican virgins, a beaded Haitian angel, ceramic figures, a carved mirror from San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca and more. I love colour and print, at home and in my wardrobe, and my house certainly contains a lot of pattern! 

I am so grateful to live in a place where I’m surrounded by nature. Walking Romero, our bearded collie, is an important part of my creative day, particularly when I’m writing. If something in the storyline is proving problematic, by the time I’ve walked around the lake, I’ve usually solved it!”

Sustainability is more than a buzzword here; it's the very thread that weaves the space together. The reclaimed Versailles parquet flooring, unearthed at a clearance sale, whispers of forgotten elegance. Even the windows, sourced from a mismatched set and repurposed in the extension, speak of mindful design. Upcycled light fixtures and vintage finds from Manchester's Vintage Home Show contribute to the soul of the space, proving that pre-loved treasures can possess timeless charm.

Walls: Edward Bulmer, Verdigris , Folk Art Angel: Bought in Haiti , Pot: Gio , Virgin of Guadalupe: Vicente Hernández, San Martin Tilcajete, Oaxaca , Jug: Vintage, Treacle Market, Macclesfield , Painting: El Maiz es de Multiples Colores by Hugo, Oventic, Chiapas , Fish: Bolivian football rattle , Print: Make Waves Not War, Basil & Ford , Boat Print: Jessica Roux, a congratulations card on the occasion of my Honorary Doctorate from my parents and daughter

Sustainability is a core value of yours, and it's evident in the choices you've made throughout your home. Can you share some specific examples of how you've woven sustainability into the design and decor?

“We’ve been at Hillrise for six years now, and for most of that time the house has been a work-in-progress, although I feel it’s nearing completion, at least for now. We planned to build an extension when we moved in and one day, even before we got here, I spotted the windows on Gumtree—three big sash windows that had been made in the wrong size for a house in Kensington—so we designed the extension around the windows.

All the paint colours are Edward Bulmer—beyond various shades of white, there’s verdigris in the reading room, invisible green in the garden room and cuisse de nymphe ému in one of the bathrooms—and are the most ecological paints I could find. More than that, the ingredients are fully traceable. 

The flooring was a great find. I’d been looking for Versailles parquet flooring, but it was either eyewateringly expensive or imported from China. One Sunday morning, the Ted Todd clearance sale popped up in my instagram feed. It was the last day of the sale. I drove up there not knowing what I’d find, and the first thing I saw was this beautiful Versailles parquet made from old oak, going for around 20% of its original price. Yes, it needed a lot of sanding and waxing, but it adds so much warmth and character to the house. 

The color palette dances to its own rhythm, inspired by a tapestry of experiences. Emerald hues from Versace wallpaper twine with the lush green of the garden, reflected in the plush comfort of a Matthew Williamson sofa. A bathroom, once adorned with a gold-sprayed bathtub (a victim of a potent Christmas bathbomb!), now boasts pink walls and black paneling, inspired by a magazine feature. Every design choice, bold or subtle, is a brushstroke in the portrait of Carry's creative spirit.”

But amidst the vibrant tapestry, one piece holds a special place in her heart. A ceramic sculpture of a pregnant woman, gifted by renowned Ecuadorian artist Eduardo Segovia, cradles the memory of her daughter, Sienna. Its tactile simplicity captures the wonder of motherhood, a constant reminder of life's precious moments.

Art Deco Rug & Cabinet: Vintage , Moire Silk Curtains: Vintage , Seafood Platter: Vintage , Wallpaper: Sakura yellow lustre by Little Greene , Dress: Reformation , Tiara: @marianagrapain , Shoes: Preloved Prada

The use of color and textiles in your home is truly inspiring. What were your sources of inspiration for the color palette and the textiles you chose?

The house has grown organically in many ways, influenced by what was already here, the rugs and furniture left by the previous owner, and the textiles I’ve collected over years of travelling. And of course, I love green, so that plays a prominent role through the house, from the Versace wallpaper to our Matthew Williamson sofa. The bathroom’s pink walls with black panelling was inspired by a feature in World of Interiors. At one stage we had an old iron bathtub in there that we spray-painted gold, but it all peeled off after someone gave me a lethal Christmas bathbomb—heavenknows what they put in it!

For those seeking to infuse their homes with both style and sustainability, Carry offers sage advice. She urges a mindful embrace of the vintage, a celebration of well-crafted furniture and textiles that carry their own stories. Manchester's Vintage Home Show, nestled in the grandeur of Victoria Baths, becomes a treasure trove of possibilities. And for those venturing further, the Devonshire caravan awaits, soon to be adorned with sustainable matka fabric, handwoven by artisans and whispering of the sea and sky.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to create a more sustainable and stylish home, what would it be?

“There is so much amazing vintage furniture out there, usually well made with better materials. A lot of our furniture, rugs and light fittings come from Manchester’s Vintage Home Show, held in the stunning setting of the Victoria Baths, Britain's finest historic municipal swimming pool. And now I have a static caravan to equip too, so I’m looking out for compact mid-century table and chairs.” 

Curtains: Vintage moire silk , Dress: Anna Mason, dyed with dandelion and daffodil by @kateturnbullalchemist , Cardigan: Bora

Walls: Edward Bulmer, invisible green , Pots: Vintage Home Show, Manchester. , Poster: Trimarchi Graphic Design Festival 

Huipil: vintage from Oaxaca , Ceramic Figures: Oaxaca and Foxlowe Art Gallery, Leek, Staffordshire , Retablo: Vintage from Ecuador in ‘90s

What is one piece of decor in your home that has the most sentimental value to you, and why?

“When I was expecting my daughter, Sienna, the famous Ecuadorian ceramicist Eduardo Segovia presented me with a sculpture of a pregnant woman. Drawing inspiration from pre-Columbian cultures, the form is simple but wonderfully tactile – you just want to cup her belly in your hand.”

Looking ahead, Carry dreams of double glazing, a finishing touch that will further harmonize her haven with the surrounding nature. For her, sustainability is not merely a trend, but a way of life, woven into the very fabric of her home. And as she contemplates dressing her caravan windows with the Matka fabric, a new creative challenge unfolds, reminding us that the tapestry of home is never truly complete, constantly evolving with each mindful choice and cherished memory.

Looking to the future, are there any design trends or sustainability practices that you're particularly excited about incorporating into your home?

“Double glazing! Little by little, we’re putting double-glazed panels into the original window frames. It will make such a difference when we finish the house. Earlier this week, I drew open the bay window curtains (the most beautiful dusky pink watered silk, a Christmas present from my friend Judy who used to have them in her bedroom) and I couldn’t even see out for the sheet of ice over the panes! And on the subject of curtains, I have just picked up a roll of sustainable matka fabric, handcrafted from recycled silk by artisan weavers, in the James Hare trade sample sale. So many curtains and blinds are polyester, or synthetic blends, but I really want to fill my Devon caravan with natural fibres to reflect its magnificent position, halfway between sea and sky in the Branscombe Undercliff. I’m excited to dress the windows with such beautiful fabric, although haven’t quite worked out how I’ll go about it!”

So, next time you seek inspiration for a space that reflects your soul, turn your gaze to Carry Somers' haven. Let her story, her vibrant colors, and her love for the upcycled and reclaimed ignite your own creative spark. Remember, sustainability and style are not mutually exclusive; they are threads waiting to be intertwined, woven into a tapestry of home that tells your own unique story.

Huipil: vintage from Oaxaca

Photos: Mark Rogers


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