Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Designed to the Letter; the Kitchen Has Units Produced from Original 18th Century Georgian Doors and Panelling the Relatively Minimal Double Bedroom Is Conducive to Sleep, Perchance to Dream as Instructed on the Wall the Swaffer Style Comes from Years of Unearthing Curiosities and Obsessive Attention to Detail

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Designed to the Letter; the Kitchen Has Units Produced from Original 18th Century Georgian Doors and Panelling the Relatively Minimal Double Bedroom Is Conducive to Sleep, Perchance to Dream as Instructed on the Wall the Swaffer Style Comes from Years of Unearthing Curiosities and Obsessive Attention to Detail

Article excerpt

Byline: Katrina Burroughs

SPENCER Swaffer, 57, and his wife, Freya, 40, loved their Grade IIlisted Georgian residence in Arundel, West Sussex, even before they firststepped over the threshold. "We'd always wanted to live in a house called SunHouse," explains Swaffer, "It's such a cheerful name." When they viewed thethree-storey property they spotted a tiny rising-sun motif set in the fanlightabove the front door and immediately knew they had found their home.

Built in 1770, the house had been owned by wealthy brewer George Constable inthe 19th century. Constable was an amateur artist who befriended his famousnamesake, John Constable, and imitated his painting styleso successfully that some contemporaries could not tell work by the twoConstables apart.

Swaffer, enchanted by both the beautiful proportions and artistic history ofthe place, didn't hesitate. He bought the

Designed property after his first visit and proceeded to spend eight months and[pounds sterling]100,000 on a makeover, plundering his own treasure trove of architecturalantiques to bring out the building's uniquely sunny disposition.

Swaffer's passion for antiques and curiosities dates back to his earliestchildhood. "As a boy, I used to roam the Sussex Downs picking up shards ofpottery. During school lunchtimes I toured the junk shops in Brighton lookingfor Egyptian scarab beads." Young Swaffer arranged his finds in his bedroom,which soon took on the dusty ambience of a museum; he began charging visitorsan entry fee.

A local dealer heard of his hoard and came to visit, paid his twopence entranceand then offered Spencer [pounds sterling]50 for two of his exhibits. "I found I preferred thecommercial world to being a curator," he recalls. By the age of 13 he had astall in Camden Passage and, at 23, he opened his celebrated emporium: fourfloors of delightful decorative antiques in Arundel High Street.

For many years, until March 2000, the store was also home.

Though he and Freya had often discussed moving, it took a Biblical day ofconflagration and inundation to shift them from living above the shop. Swafferexplains: "Part of the building caught fire one Saturday afternoon. We had tocarry all the stock into the garden. The roof caved in and when the firebrigade arrived a million gallons of water went through the building. The nextday our new house came on to the market and we bought it." The six-bedroom,brick-built property was structurally sound but needed rewiring, replumbing andredecorating.

"Everything was peach-coloured: deep-pile peach carpets on the floor, peachpaint, peachy curtains," shudders Swaffer. They spent the first weeks of theeight-month makeover turfing out the offending textiles, stripping the paintand getting down to the bare bones of the house. …

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