Ray of light
Charlotte Pearson finds out more about a bright and brilliant creative space.
Apparently it is said if you have ever lived in St Leonards or Hastings and moved away you will end up living there again.
“It has a way of pulling you back, it’s true,” explains Caroline Morris.
“I used to live in the Old Town of Hastings in the 90s and then moved to London, but when I was looking for a shop to buy a few years ago I found myself looking in East Sussex. I love the lifestyle here and the real sense of community.”
Caroline bought 1 Mercatoria Place in St Leonards-on-Sea in 2011.
“As soon as I stepped in the hallway and saw the living room beyond the hall I just thought ‘oh my goodness’,” she recalls. “It just all felt right, and I know now I am moving away I am not going to be able to find anything else like it.”
Steeped in local history, the property was originally the workshop for the new town of St Leonards designed by eminent architect James Burton.
“The kitchen is very industrial and it is something I wanted to keep due to the history of the property,” explains Caroline.
But this wasn’t the reason for the galvanized steel feature wall in the living room.
“I had a new gate fitted in the garden and wanted a kick at the bottom,” she says. “They fitted it with a galvanised steel one which got me thinking.
“I knew I wanted a metallic finish on one of the walls but couldn’t find anything I liked. Metallic paint and wallpaper didn’t reflect the light the way I wanted and I went everywhere, including the Designer’s Guild in London.
“I remember waking up one night thinking about the steel and found someone who could do it.
“People love to touch it when they walk in, it really has the wow factor, and whereas mirrors would dazzle reflecting the light this is really simple but effective.”
Caroline was able to move straight into the house but she decided to add her own touches to the property by redecorating.
“The third bedroom had an elevated bed, it was a double but I didn’t think it was suitable for having guests so I changed that,” she says.
As a milliner Caroline admits the living room space has been perfect for her needs.
“It is my favourite room in the house,” she smiles. “I have done millinery workshops here as I used to teach and like to keep in with that.
“I have held life drawing classes, nothing professional, I just have a few friends round and we have all chipped in to pay the model.
“For Valentine’s Day I did a tea party and pushed all the big tables together and served tea and cake.
“I am a very sociable person and the space is great for entertaining.
“The living room is just flooded with light and I love being in that space.”
It is clear that Caroline loves her home, but the reason she first came to St Leonards hasn’t changed.
“I came down here to look for a shop and that is still my plan,” she says. “I want somewhere where I can meet my bespoke hat clients, but also a place I can showcase art and the local talent we have here.
“There is a real buzz here. It really is changing and there is so much going on, and I want to be able to support it.”
Alongside the contemporary designed garden, and the cast iron radiators, which Caroline says makes the house lovely and cosy, the area is also something she will miss.
“I am about a 30 second walk from the best pub and restaurant,” she laughs. “There is also a great cake shop around the corner.
“The home is so peaceful as well. You can just hear the birds and seagulls as it is set back from the road. It is just lovely.
“It is such a creative space, and one I have loved.”
1Mercatoria Place is on the market for a guide price of £675,000 with Freeman Forman, 22-24 High Street, Tunbridge Wells, 01892 615757, www.freemanforman.co.uk
April 5, 2016 Interiors and Property