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November 15th, 2020

I have always been an inveterate collector of stuff. I reckon it started when I was a small child with a trip to the white elephant stall at our local fete. I’d won the prize for the ‘Best Miniature Flower Arrangement’ and with the prize money burning a hole in my pocket I promptly spent it on a glass sausage dog ornament and a box with shells on top.

Fast forward a few years and I went on to found a business from car boot finds and scouring junk shops. By the time we moved to our house in the Cotswolds a few years ago I had literally a mountain of boxes to sift through. The strange thing is, as much as I’ve loved buying all these things, I actually like a house that is not too cluttered. I even kid myself that one day I will have the discipline to have a minimalist house. {Below, an old postcard of the house taken in 1910.]

 

The reality is I am far too weak willed and continue to gather and shed things as I go along and, in the meantime, try and make them fit into the house in the best way possible. There are certain things I can’t resist looking out for so here in no particular order are some of my collections:

Spot the Dog

I realise the house is full of ‘dog’ things, but hopefully in a surreptitious way, snuck in here, there and everywhere. When you come in the front door the first thing that greets you is this painting of a terrier and a water bowl. It’s to say dogs are welcome.

Billie, our Sealyham, is very at home in the kitchen

 

I now have a back room called ‘The Dog Room’ which is filled with various dog portraits. It’s good to have a place to hang them together.

 

This is Billie hanging amongst the washing.

I’m very fond of these Cecil Aldwyn pictures as they hung in my childhood playroom. Before that they were in my father’s nursery.

 

Stanley, my Lakeland terrier became a celebrity in Japan. This portrait was made for me for a birthday at work. The woman who made it was an octogenarian whose name I sadly can’t remember.

 

A lurcher cushion by Rose de Borman sits on a chair in the telly room.

 

I sent Stanley’s photograph to a wooden toy manufacturer in Poland and they made him into a pull along toy now tucked in a bookshelf.

A tiny bronze dog on the sitting room mantlepiece.

Grace

My latest commission waiting to be hung – Billie and his twin in Staffordshire style.

I have an ever-expanding collection of cache pots. One of my first jobs when I came to London was working in a present shop that sold Casa Pupo pots and I reckon my collection started way back then. I now have them all stored in our old greenhouse.

To go with the pots I have become obsessed with geraniums and have been collecting all sorts these last few years. I can spend hours bringing them in and out of the house. I never feel at home until I’ve brought plants and flowers inside.

More pots. I love the little Ikea wicker ones and bought piles of them.

Tall geraniums in the sitting room.

 

A scented pelargonium in a spare room.

 

White pots on the windowsill with Amaryllis starting to shoot.

 

A recent job lot from a local auction.

 

I spent so much time at car boot sales in the 90’s stocking my first shop and invariably came away with vases. My favourites are plain white china.

 

A bedside table with flowers for a guest staying last weekend.

 

Dahlias from the garden. My aim is to have something to pick all year round.

 

The verbena on the terrace is still good for picking.

 

The border on November 1st.

 

A Polly Fern vase with my 2 favourites – flowers and a dog!

 

I have gradually been collecting tulip vases. Recent additions came from Charlie Bordewich Antiques.

 

A favourite combo.

 

Another obsession is linen. I still love white sheets (preferably linen), good pillows, including a baby pillow, blankets and a blanket cover. I would far rather spend on having a comfy bed than say a car. Along with the white sheets I have been collecting Porthault for years when, every now and then, they have a sale.

 

My collection of baby pillow cases.

 

I like the odd printed pillow amongst the white.

 

My favourite pattern – Matisse for Porthault!


I did have a huge collection of archive prints when I had my old business but, when I left, I have had to start collecting again. This piece came from Afia Fabrics which was a favourite place to go and rummage. They had a basement full of treasures including old Oliver Messel fabrics. I’ve used this in an attic room.

 

I had some old rolls of Cath Kidston furnishing linen tucked away which is in this other attic room.

 

I also had a stash old rose wallpaper I designed years ago. I like it varnished in a bathroom.

 

This paper was called Paris Rose. I like the old surface print papers that have the paint showing which you can’t really achieve with digital.

Some of my collections have been very much based around certain colours and they are often what catch my eye when I go antiquing. I am invariably drawn like a magnet to anything scarlet. Whether it’s a wall colour, a chair or the perfect red book, I find it very hard to resist. I had so much red in our last house so I am trying to wean myself off it. My bathroom has recently become a shine to blues and my latest craze is to look out for all things yellow.

 

My blue ‘Greek’ bathroom was originally inspired by the colours of a bath mat I’d picked up in a charity shop. I love going to Greece and admire the way they mix different blues together there. I set about gathering bits that I had around the house that would go together and since then have been keeping my eye out for any blue things for the room.

 

The bargain bathmat

 

I already had this Braque print with its pale blue mount.

 

This wall is a real mix of blue things from a picture given me by my god daughter, the talented Rose Electra Harris to a Paule Vezelay cut out, my cousin painted in the bath by my great Aunt Cor and various Greek treasures.

 


 
Each year I bring more beads back from my travels.

 

The striped flannel came from a market in Cairo.

 

Grace watching me in the bath. She’s perched on Molly Mahon covered laundry basket.

 

Nail polish red chairs in the dining room. It’s a dark room so the colour seemed to make sense in here, although it felt a bit rash when I was ordering them.

 

Guardsmen red wool curtain in the hall from A W Hainsworth. Again, it’s a north facing room so needed brightening up.

 

This cracker hat started red but has faded now. I bought this painting as I loved the red curtain but the man looks better with his hat on.

 

This is the first house I have owned that doesn’t have a red sitting room wall. This is the office so I felt I could get away with it here with the large white cupboards and bookshelves to lighten it.

 

Red rugs on the hall floor.

 

A table and rug on the half landing.

 

A red and white bedroom

 

And of course, there are usually red geraniums all around the house.

 

My new craze is yellow.

 

A black and yellow Rosi de Ruig shade on the drinks table next to a yellow chair.


Dishes in the siting room.

 

A flash of bright yellow in my bedroom.

 

More yellow at the end of the bed

 

A favourite yellow chair in a bathroom.

The thing I love collecting most is pictures. I remember buying my first when I was 18 when I came across two Laura Knight drawings that I couldn’t afford but also couldn’t resist. Over the years my taste has changed considerably so I now have a very disparate collection. The challenge has been how to hang them in the house and work out what sits well together. I find I can sell furniture when it doesn’t fit but it’s harder to get rid of pictures as they have much more of an emotional connection. I also have a number of paintings that I have been left by my family which makes the collection even more of a puzzle.

 

The stairway is a riot of colour and home to my more abstract pictures.

 

My favourite is this William Crozier.


A mix in the telly room. The big painting is by Barbara McFarlane.

 

Orange abstract in the kitchen.

 

The two Chris Ofili in the kitchen are tea towels from the Tate framed in Perspex.

 

More Ofili over the fireplace in the hall. I like the way they hang next to more traditional portraits. .

 

The Dutch panels either side of the fireplace were from my parents.

 

In the rest of the room I have hung all sorts of abstract pictures as I didn’t want all of it to be too traditional.

 

Pictures are propped up in the bedroom as it’s not yet finished. The Picasso scarf over the fireplace was a bargain at auction but I now need to sort out the rest of the hanging.

 

Over the bed is a Rob Ryan cut out that I commissioned for my husband Hugh when we moved to the house.

 

My challenge now is not to cram the walls of the house too full. Across the way there is room we use in the summer that looks quite out of character from rest of the house. It’s pretty calm and tranquil by my standards with just one picture over the sofa. I have kept myself from filling it up. I imagine that one day I will have the discipline to have that minimalist home I can picture, a sort of version of Kettle’s Yard.

 

But for now, I’ll have to dream on as my collection keeps on growing. This latest lockdown arrival is from Nicky Haslam, a magical picture of our sitting room in moonlight that just needs to find a perfect spot…

BOBT: Earlier this summer, Cath answered my questions about her current doings thus : ‘ I have been running a small print studio called Joy of Print which designs prints for other business’s. We have just done 2 years of print for Uniqlo.  I have also created a few of my own designs and have done a small collaboration with Rosi de Ruig of some lampshades with my patterns.’

‘There are all sorts of other things always on my radar; napkins, plates, books to name a few. It might be time to have another shop soon to channel my shopping habits… ‘

  ‘I also have a book out [ ‘A Place Called Home’ ] with Christopher Sykes (Crykes!) which came out earlier this year … here are some quick snaps from the book … I have signed book plates if anyone wants them but am not sure they would….they could be sent out …. only to readers of the BOBT of course…!?” [ This one shows the entrance hall of the Cotswolds manor house at the head of a valley where she lives with her husband Hugh and three beloved dogs.]

‘Photos of the house as it was when we arrived… ‘

‘And a snap of the dining room.’ Cath Kidston, November 2020.

 
 

All photographs copyright Cath Kidston.

Joy of Print.

Millions of thanks to Cath Kidston for writing and photographing this.

2 responses to “A Magpie’s Life, by Cath Kidson”

  1. Emmy Gainey says:

    So enjoyed your post. Now I can collect with no guilt! You do it so beautifully!

  2. KERRY STEVENS says:

    I enjoyed reading and looking at the numerous photographs (especially the ones that included dogs!) I would just like to respectfully say with regards to your eclectic decoration and minimalism versus maximalism, Don’t fight the maximalism, your home is made to house your wonderful collections…don’t worry about filling the walls with art, they will look wonderfully interesting as will your present and future object d’art! Happy hunting!

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