A Georgian townhouse in Somerset exquisitely restored by Jack Laver Brister

Antique dealer Jack Laver Brister and his chartered surveyor partner Richard Nares took a hands-on approach when restoring this Georgian townhouse in Somerset, removing incongruous additions and sourcing exquisite historic pieces to create an inviting home

Period-style panelling, designed by Richard and painted in ‘Caddie’ by Paper & Paint Library, provides a warm backdrop for the Georgian drop-leaf dining table and set of Christopher Howe ladder-back chairs bought at auction. Their seats are upholstered in horsehair fabric, woven at John Boyd Textiles in nearby Castle Cary. A plaster bust sits on a faux-marble plinth beside vintage Colefax and Fowler curtains.

James McDonald

Where there were no period details remaining, the couple has not been averse to adding them. In the dining room – once the kitchen and latterly a TV room with a gas fire – they wanted to make things more cosy and intimate: ‘We thought, let’s do a bit of Georgian townhouse-style panelling. Richard drew it up to the correct proportions and scale, and we had it made by a local carpenter.’ They painted it in the mustardy ‘Caddie’ by Paint & Paper Library to match the original shutters found in a shed, which had been taken out to accommodate secondary glazing, itself now firmly removed. The original chimney behind the gas fire was opened up to make a fireplace, now framed by a reclaimed pine chimneypiece. Out went the TV cabinet in the niche beside it to be replaced by a freestanding mahogany Regency cabinet they cut down to size, which conveniently hides the gas meter.

On the other side of the passageway, the ‘dreadful’ doors between the two rooms have been removed. This has opened it out into a more united space, with a book room (Jack says he considers library too grand an appellation) at the front and a formal sitting room at the back filled with antiques. ‘The intention was that it would be a room my great-grandparents would feel at home in – albeit in slightly reduced circumstances,’ he observes.

Walls in Farrow & Ball’s ‘Templeton Pink’ showcase antique paintings and curtains in a vintage Colefax and Fowler print featuring a distinctive blue. This is echoed by two lamps – an ornate Casa Pupo ceramic design and a 19th-century Chinese example on the mid- Victorian mahogany table. Antique damask and patterned cushions on the ticking-covered Georgian camel-back sofa pick up on a vintage rug.

James McDonald

Looking out over the courtyard full of colourful flowers is a new extension, clad in shiplap painted in ‘London Clay’ by Farrow & Ball. Within is a light-filled sitting and dining room, where the couple now spend much of their time, often listening to the rain on the tin roof (well, this is soggy Somerset). It was designed and built around a pair of second-hand sash windows and some French doors they had bought earlier. Jack lined the interior walls himself with pine strips of random lengths, but the same depth, from a local sawmill: ‘We wanted it to look like it had been thrown up, rather than thought out too much.’ Ironic really, as if ever there were a house where tremendous thought has gone into every object and aspect, it is the house that Jack rebuilt.

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