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Bland is banned in this home | News & Star |

Bland is banned in this home | News & Star

Caryn Gough and Merv Upton aren’t
afraid to use colour in their Georgian home in the middle of Kendal.

A red and white kitchen, murals, bright accessories and doors painted in Pantone shades are all clues to Caryn

s career as a graphic designer and Merv

s background in art.


The name the Colour House, however, references a much earlier chapter in the building

s long and fascinating history. In the late 19th century, it was bought by a dye and stain manufacturer and was renamed the Colour Works. Merv and Caryn tweaked the name to come up with the Colour House which reflects their own style.

The couple, who have been married since 1998, had long been fascinated by the building and when it
came up for sale in 2007 they arranged a viewing. Although it was a commercial property, they knew that the large rooms would lend themselves to conversion to a family home and office space for Caryn

s graphic design business, Dada Design.

The building was being used by film make-up and special effects company Pigs Might Fly. The owners had saved it from dereliction and made it structurally sound but there was no kitchen or bathroom and just one loo.

The family, including Caryn

s son Ollie, camped out at first, rigging up a temporary bath in the middle of the ground floor with a tent around it to provide some privacy.


I decorated it,

says Caryn.

We had fairy lights on it and lovely curtains. It was like a little Bedouin tent.

Building work included removing a staircase to create space for bathrooms on the first and second floors and adding partition walls.

Each of the three floors is used as separate accommodation. Ollie, who is in his mid-20s, lives on the ground floor, where he has a living area with kitchenette, bedroom and bathroom.

Caryn and Merv have used bright colours throughout. Caryn says:

I

ve always loved colour – it

s just been part of my business for 35 years of designing.

To decorate two of the walls, Caryn came up with a triangular design which she painted herself using a spectrum of colours which ranges from warm to cold shades.

The red and white kitchen units are from Ikea and were fitted to Caryn

s specification. She says the Swedish firm

s kitchens are an affordable option:

They

re very good quality. You have to use your imagination to get something different out of it and you have to be a bit more creative. Some people will pay
£
60,000 for a kitchen but you leave it behind.

The dining and coffee tables are also from Ikea and the dining chairs from online retailer Made. A brightly patterned rug in the dining area is from Habitat and the corner sofa was an Ikea find. Caryn inherited the overmantel from her mum and painted it turquoise.

The internal doors are fire doors fitted when it was a commercial premises. Caryn and Merv originally planned to replace them but because they are thicker than domestic doors it would have involved changing the frames. Caryn

s solution was to leave them in place and give them a makeover by painting them in Pantone colours.

In her office, Caryn has added interest by painting a bird and tree mural on one wall. The Humpties round pouffe was made by Kendal Upholstery using Caryn

s fabric design while the rug was from Habitat. Caryn has hung paper lanterns from the ceiling beam:

They make it a bit more homely and bring some colour in.

Merv and Caryn

s artistic backgrounds have influenced the decor at The Colour House. Merv runs a gardening business but previously worked as an artist, specialising in drawing.

Caryn studied graphic design at the then London College of Printing and started her career in London. She worked for a firm called Assorted Images, creating album covers for bands such as Duran Duran and Culture Club.

Caryn went on to work for bands including Everything But The Girl and The Smiths, designing collaboratively with The Smiths

singer Morrissey. Their working relationship continued during his later solo career:

He used to send me little postcards if he especially liked the record sleeves.

The property

s sash windows were replaced by the former owners in line with the Georgian originals. A single pane of glass in the bedroom, which has been preserved, is etched with the inscription William Rawsthorn (or Rausthorn), Old Shambles Steps and the date May 22nd 1881.

Ollie

s ground-floor flat, from where he runs his photography business Ooze Photography, is decorated in similarly bright colours to Caryn and Merv

s accommodation. He jokes:

It

s hard to escape creativity.

A zebra design on a central beam was created by projecting the image on to the surface to provide a guideline for the black and white paint. The artwork is by Ollie

s friend and work collaborator Jack Serginson and the shelves were salvaged from Kendal Library.


Merv says the house has a lovely atmosphere, while Caryn says:


People quite often mention it

s a really relaxing place to be.

* This interview first appeared in the award-winning Cumbria Life magazine.

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