1970s Cambridge house: an artist’s home in Ideal Home

In preparing my blog yesterday, 12th September, on a super Oxford house interior designed by Alicja Zimniskas, I’d thought I had blogged earlier this year about her own home – which I shot in 2015 for a feature published in March 2016 by Ideal Home magazine. I was wrong! Somehow, I forgot… So here’s a belated post briefly introducing the feature home of Alicja & Graham in Cambridge.

What a contrast! But very ordinary homes like this 1970s terraced house can be improved almost beyond recognition...

How many boxy terraced homes like this were constructed in the 1970s? Huge numbers – many have been renovated, for example by converting an integral garage into an additional room, seen here to left of the front door. But not many are quite as super inside as Alicja’s house.

In some ways this typifies the sort of home that stands a good chance of being featured, and which I look for constantly – usually in vain! Many people think it’s only “posh”houses that magazines choose, but this is mistaken. Sure, the more up-market titles tend to feature above average homes, but the big selling, middle market, solidly established magazines are often attracted to quite ordinary houses and flats.

© Anthony Harrison 2015 et seq All Rights Reserved

The ground floor kitchen, dining area and main seating area has been extended, reaching out into the garden. The extension adds light as well as space.

They have to have a pretty special interior – these features are about décor and how the homeowners put it together – but editors like to feature homes that typical readers will find accessible, the sort of place they might aspire to own themselves. They want readers to be able to say, Lovely interior! I could paint my wall that colour too, introduce a similar rug/sofa/light fixture, and the house is really not very different from my own anyway…

© Anthony Harrison 2015 et seq All Rights Reserved

Naturally Alicja’s art features prominently in her décor – this is the first floor, additional seating, and (behind the camera) a library and painting area

So after Alicja contacted me, last summer I travelled to Cambridge, checked out her home, and offered a feature to Ideal Home, who loved it. Why? It fits the template. In the lead picture at the top, you see a typical 1970s attached townhouse, one of many thousands built at that time – not visually appealing, a utilitarian box on three floors to house a modest family. Inside, it’s been transformed, extended – and decorated with care, style, creativity and flair.img_5469a

It helps that Alicja is a trained artist and an accomplished painter, who hails from Lithuania and studied in Poland; while Graham too has travelled widely as part of his work. (Before Cambridge, they lived in Warsaw.) Broad horizons and a creative background are evident in the interior they put together. I think Ideal Home used my images & text very well, a great spread. And her home is evidence of Alicja’s powerful eye for design, which is leading her into a second career as an interior designer. Maybe artists make the best designers…img_0656

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