Step inside this Parisian-style 19th-century terraced house in Brighton, owned by graphic designer Patti Hopkins and her architect husband Rob…The couple had spent two years looking for a house when fate intervened and prompted a rethink of their plans. ‘We had found a property in London that we wanted,’ recalls Patti, ‘but six days before we were due to exchange contracts, the deal fell through.’
Exasperated by the whole experience, the couple retreated to Rob’s family home in Brighton. ‘We often used to spend weekends here, and after our disappointment in London we needed time to reconsider what we’d do next,’ says Patti. ‘We also love the coastal location, the openness and cosmopolitan vibe of this seaside town.’
The couple wanted a freehold property and soon realised they could get more for their money by looking away from the capital. So they resumed their search, but this time in Brighton. ‘We saw about 10 places and this house was the biggest we found in our price range,’ says Patti. ‘It’s also near the station, which is handy for Rob’s commute to London.’
The home hadn’t been updated since the 1960s. ‘When we first viewed the house, we knew it needed a lot of work, but we were happy to do that,’ says Patti. ‘Every wall and ceiling was covered in woodchip or polystyrene tiles, which all needed stripping away before we could start.’
Undeterred, and using Rob’s experience as an architect, the couple drew up plans of how to update the house. They moved walls, took out chimney breasts, added a cloakroom, new flooring, French windows and a hatch between the kitchen and the dining room. ‘The hatch creates a visual link between these spaces and the adjacent sitting room, so I can now cook and watch TV at the same time,’ explains Patti.
‘We also repaired the roof, the leaking guttering and windows, and treated some low-level damp that came to light when we started peeling back the 10 layers of wallpaper,’ adds Rob.
Finally, once the heavy work was done and the walls had been skimmed, the couple were able to plan the interior decoration. ‘We decided to introduce flowing lines and colour into the kitchen,’ says Rob, ‘so we chose lime-green cupboards and curved fronts and a dusky-pink fridge.’ We painted all the rooms ourselves,’ adds Patti. ‘One of the builders was horrified by our palettes, but we love them.’
The ultimate showcase for the couple’s distinctive style is their sitting room. For the past 15 years, Patti has been collecting retro furniture and accessories, many from her native Paris. ‘I bought most of our pieces, including the white chairs and lamps from the Marche aux Puces de Clignancourt – which is an enormous flea market in the north of the city,’ says Patti. ‘When I came to England, I hired a man with a van to bring it all over.’
Rob’s favourite piece of furniture is the coffee table. ‘We saw it in a shop in Brighton, but it was too expensive,’ he says. ‘Two years later, the shop was closing down and amazingly, it was still unsold, so we managed to buy it for 15 percent of the original price!’
Upstairs, bold colour continues with a bathroom tiled in pearlised pink tesserae, while the bedroom hints at their passion for 1960s design, which also extends to the rest of the house. The bedroom has shelving made by Patti and painted in Dulux’s Oriental Coral.
Words adapted from Penny Botting Photos by Robert Sanderson
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