Filled with exotic finds and unusual objects designer Caroline Goss’s house reflects her love of travel and adventure
Most of us pick up souvenirs when we travel: a swathe of embroidered fabric, a pot handcrafted in a remote pottery. But when designer Caroline Goss goes abroad she doesn’t just snaffle up the odd memento. For her, every foreign foray is a chance to gather up ideas, inspiration and unusual pieces for her London home. Moroccan basins, Spanish sculpture, Bollywood posters: colours, textures and designs gathered on global travels have transformed this basement flat, in West London, from a nondescript warren to an exotic and other-worldly home.
Caroline and her three daughters lived in the flat for a year before rolling up their shirtsleeves to transform the space which she says, with a sigh, ‘was classic developer – all fawn and magnolia.’ We step in to the sitting room, where Moroccan lights sprinkle pin pricks of light over a coffee table fashioned from an old Indian door. There is a sculpture of a bull from Spain and a rug by the New York designer Madeleine Weintraub underfoot. Overhead, light floods in through a skylight: one of the key structural changes Caroline made to the flat alongside opening up the kitchen so that it flows into the sitting room and dining space, also cleverly illuminated by a mirrored wall.
Since she first went on safari with her father as a teenager Caroline has been an inveterate traveller; backpacking in the Far East, road tripping in the Mid West, meditating with Yogis in India. All these experiences inspire her work as both interior designer and owner of Cherry Pie, a homeware company specialising in aprons and kitchen wear with a flirty, Fifties feel: ‘The inspiration came from fabric that I found in Mexico. I wanted to create something fun and sexy; so many home products are dreary and lack style. I like the idea that you can sit down to dinner in one of our aprons and still look great.’
Caroline also spent 20 years living in a remote village in south west France: ‘The house had one fireplace and we huddled together in a four poster for warmth when we first arrived. But the experience has taught me I can happily live anywhere,’ says Caroline, who used her doughty DIY skills to transform every room in the house; mixing cement and hanging the Osborne & Little wallpaper in the bedroom. In one of her daughter’s bedrooms, a metal bed is painted a pastel pink while a pretty free-standing bath has been similarly transformed. Indian handles adorn once-lacklustre chests of drawers and heirloom cupboards. The hallway gleams with a wooden floor, a charming two-seater sofa and mirror, fashioned from an old Russian window frame. The cash ran out for a new kitchen so instead, Caroline swapped boring white tiles for colourful ones and installed handles fashioned from old cutlery.
More travellers’ tales await in Caroline’s bathroom which evokes the feel of a Moroccan riad with its turquoise walls, polished concrete floor and shining nickel basin. The shower screen (cut from durable Wedge board) features a cut out arch inspired by Moorish architecture. Like everything else here it is exotic, different and the defiant opposite of dull.