Country house vernacular is what Carlos Sanchez-Garcia does – with knobs on. HIs magpie eye spots and classifies all the multifarious strands and elements he comes across everywhere he goes, distilling them into a taxonomy entirely his own The long, low redbrick Norfolk farmhouse that he shares with his partner Michael and their three hounds is brim-full of the tropes and touches he’s best known for – and its their home, settled and comfortable and serene. One sunny Sunday morning I was there for breakfast. and chatting and admiring, – and just as he says -‘It’s really really jolly!
‘ This is a lovely pink pelargonium that gets very woody and this is a picture by Eric Ravilious – I got it because the colour is absolutely amazing and I did the whole room around it! Then the big freeze came and now all my pelargoniums have died.’
‘The kitchen is painted Olympian Green, a colour by Edward Bulmer. Originally it was a muted apple green, but in winter it can be quite dark as soon as the sun goes. We spend the majority of our time here as well as in the room at the back so I wanted this to be a little bit more lively and more cheery. And something that would feel comfortable with the room and all the stuff in it? I have to say, it’s really, really jolly!’
‘The sofa under the stairs is something where you can sit down and put your wellies on when you go out. The floor underneath was a very horrid lino, its wonderfully patched up with Norfofk pamments.’
‘The kitchen is the newest part of the house surprisingly’
‘Matilda Goad sent the pink candles to me very kindly. That is a Victorian tea cosy, we use it constantly – look at the work in it and the colours! I got it on ebay.’
‘That was Gooseberry jam I think?’
‘Oh! it says Greengage. We both make jam, mostly on Sunday afternoons.’
‘My Staffordshire china chickens? This one is from the John Fowler collection that they sold at Sibyl Colefax, it’s very, very sweet – and she looks like one of the chickens we have. I absolutely adore all the garish, blatant Staffordshire glaze colours.’
‘And the dresser is a Welsh Dresser its sixteenth century, the proportions are absolutely perfect. We originally had a long piece of modern kitchenalia that came with the house here – it didn’t work, it was the wrong proportions for the room.’
‘I grew these dahlias’
‘The kitchen table was painted grey when I bought it.
How is it so clean? I bleach it, that’s how to do it ! With a good old scrub.’
Some are antique, some I had made’
‘All the cabinetry in here was done by my local carpenter who is a builder, the old-fashioned way with proper hinges.\
‘Our whippets. Tristram – and Theodora who is 14.
Tristram is 13′
‘ We’ve been here for eight years now’
The dog bowls are Spode china
‘This house dates from 1635, it was extended later on, once it would have had Dutch gables on the ends and a steep thatched roof.
‘This part of the hall floor was unearthed from under a layer of concrete. I took a risk! The builders unearthed beautiful original stone and terracotta floor tiles, but we had to fill in a gap at this end with these buff-coloured pamments.’
‘Alfred is 11, he came to us from Michael’s mother, we inherited him when he was one. He’s a cross between a pug and a chihuahua. ‘
‘That cushion is a nineteenth century hand-woven Anatolian embroidery. We’ve reworked the pattern as a weave and it will soon be in production – with Tissues d’Helene’
The cushion and the new weave.
We have reduced the number of colours and made two fabrics with two different colourways. Being a weave rather than an embroidery it can be used more widely as upholstery, blinds, and so on
Alfred has a very kind face
‘He’s incredibly jolly, relentless!’
‘In Spain you always keep geraniums outdoors, when my mother visits she says, Geraniums indoors!?’
The dining room. ‘This blue colour is from Farrow and Ball – but now they’ve changed all the pigments’
‘This is Spode, nineteenth century, I found it on ebay – for a pittance!’
‘This china cupboard was there, I repainted it and added extra shelves’
‘Some are Wedgwood. These are all Royal Crown Derby’
‘The cupboard is early seventeenth century with a wonderful patina, I keep glassware in it, I use everything I there, I love setting the table with different china.I bought this oak furniture because it suited the house, but I don’t ever want to get rid of these pieces, they are amazing, beautiful, practical in their simplicity ‘
The sitting room
‘My favourite things in this room are the Morland Lewis picture – and the overmantle mirror from Adam Bentley antiques, its Kentian’
‘These are Ikats that I got in Istanbul, those are from a company called Colony that I used to work for’
‘These curtains are by Robert Kime, the pattern is from one of the bed hangings in Hardwick Hall. We had an enormous amount of debate between Michael and I, to convince him! I wanted something that didn’t look too new, he wanted a brighter green’
‘We do disagree sometimes, more over works of art.
But there’s always room for compromise’
‘A friend gave the drinks table to me, it’s a faux bamboo’
A small table by Liberty, one of a pair.
The lovely painting is of St Mary’s Church, Penzance, by Morland Lewis. I loved it – I saw it at a gallery – and Michael immediately liked it too’
‘This is our Snug. We use this room to have drink by the fire.
In summer the sun goes around at the evening and you open the French doors’
‘There wasn’t a fireplace here when we first came, but in winter the two of us live here. We wanted to surround it with some antique Delft tiles but I thought it would bankrupt me. So I found Paul Bommer, an artist in Aylsham, and he made pictures of things that mean something to us, the dogs, the church, the castle,
‘This is where Michael works, the study, ‘
‘The nineteenth century Suzani is from Uzbekistan and that is one of
Benedict’s frames ‘- @aprinart
‘Wendy [Nicholl’s] gift, I adore it, the little jug. The washbasin is a lovely old one, I put the skirt on it
Carlos’s lovely soap, from Portugal
‘Our bed, the two posts at the front are by Gillows of Lancaster and we built a small king size bed around it, that’s the original carpet which I haven’t changed’
‘The patchwork nineteenth century quilt is from Tinsmiths’
‘On the bedhead is a textile by Robert Kime, from an old French chintz’
‘That’s from Sibyl Colefax, a two-tier flower stand?
And always garden flowers in it’
‘This is by a painter called Philippa Maynard Lewis, a landscape – tho’ she usually painted nudes’
‘the walls of the room are soft pink almost white, Rose Tinted White by Edward Bulmer’
guest suite and lovely bannisters
‘The colour on the tongue and groove is Jonquil by Edward Bulmer
The paper above is by Robert Kime. These watercolours aren’t amazingly accomplished but I found them in a book fair in Norwich, from a part broken up book of travel sketches made in Germany and England’
This is a favourite, book, Country Matters by Clare Leighton. A friend of mine bought a woodcut of hers. She was an American who made these wonderful woodcuts in the 1930s. Her very best book is Four Hedges, all about the seasons and what happens throughout the year. Her woodblocks are very simple but with so much movement – people around the pub or picking dahlias, the village fete –
I have an entire wall of them in the loo ( then Carlos very very kindly gave me his spare copy, as I loved it so much)
‘The utility room was completely empty when we came here, so we put all the mess and machinery in there.’
‘So we have all the mess and battle going on behind this door if we are giving a dinner!’
‘Gingham is a practical thing, covering the shelves behind, you can allow yourself to be more disorganised’
‘We are both ‘domestic,’ we both have our own strengths.’
‘The baskets? I do use them’
Carlos at the kitchen door
‘The Polish hens have big hair at the top.
These are the blue-collars, the ones that actually lay, the Sussexes, the others just lay the odd one. We got them before the first lockdown, but then we were terribly unlucky – the fox came and killed all of them – it was awful.
That’s Clarinda, a beautiful lavender Peking’
‘This is my Staffordshire figure of the Prince of Wales, bought from Richard Scott’s fabled china shop in Holt. I love the greens and peaches in the glaze.
And thank you cards from friends by Ravilious and Bawden. People know me too well!’
By happt serendipity, just as I finish this, Carlos is launching his first collection of fabrics and wallpapers: this is a linen, Kandili, taken from a 19th century Ottoman scarf in his collection, and named for the old quarter of Istanbul where Greeks settled and produced these block printed designs.
This is a variation of Kandili currently in the making, the black ground is replaced with a neutral one.
This is Toledo, based on an 18th century French Toile de Bourges, screen printed on Silk Mutka. The name refers back to Mudejar Architectural motifs in the City of Toledo, Spain. The fabric comes in 4 colourways: Henna, Nutmeg, Lichen and Bleu de Chine.
‘This weave derives from the 19th century Anatolian embroidery on the right in my collection. It’s the one made into a lumbar cushion that sits on our hall bench ( photographed with Alfred). We’ve reduced the number of colours and made two fabrics with two different colourways. Being a weave rather than an embroidery it can be used more widely as upholstery, blinds, and so on…’
‘All the fabrics are out now and ready for orders. www.carlosgarciainterios.com email@example.com
as Tissus d’Helene in London is selling the fabrics on my behalf.’
Millions of thanks to Carlos and Michael All photographs copyright bibleofbritishtaste. Excerpts may be used as long as clear links are supplied back to the original authors and content.