Clare & Ian…………………

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Who are you? I am a designer/maker working with paper and textiles and author of several craft books. Ian is a graphic designer and an artist.

Why Broadstairs? We were really looking in Ramsgate but driving around Broadstairs on one of our house hunting trips, we saw a hand written ‘for sale’ sign in a window. We were able to see the house straight away, fell in love with it, made an offer that evening and moved in 6 months later.

How do you define style? Being individual and able to put things together not because they are trendy but because you love them.

If you were an animal, what would you be? Ian says what about a rhinoceros- rude! I think an Australian magpie. They have a beautiful song and I would love to be able to sing. Flying would be pretty amazing too.

Object of desire for your home? More art. Something by William Scott or Howard Hodgkin would be nice.

Best and worst thing about your move to Broadstairs? Best thing is we have a beautiful beach at one end of the road. At the other end of the road is the best corner shop you could wish for and then it’s a couple of minutes walk to the centre of town with restaurants, bars, a bakery, a greengrocers, butchers, fishmongers and my favourite shop Harrington’s the ironmongers. The worst thing is not being able to pop in for a cup of tea with my old friends on the spur of the moment.

Best and Worst thing about your renovation experience? Worse; living without a kitchen for 2 months, which really wasn’t that bad as we got to know the local restaurants and cafes, Plus I learnt that you could cook practically anything from a tiny table in the hallway with a kettle and a mini microwave.

If you could change one thing about your house what would it be? Nothing. 2 years ago I would have said I couldn’t live with a great big black, ornate fireplace. Ian persuaded me to let it stay and I am glad now.  

Favourite space in your house? Sitting in the front bay window, in the sun, watching boats sail past the end of our road.

What is your biggest weakness? Charity shops and bootfairs. If Ian is driving I spend my time looking backwards wistfully as we speed past a field of open car boots!

What couldn’t you live without? Ian, my four children and Otis our mini dachshund. My family.

What would you do if you were Mayor for a day? Make more cycle lanes all over Thanet. I would like to get a bike but I am a scaredy-cat when it comes to riding on the road.

What would buy if you won the lottery? We have seen some really big empty properties in Ramsgate. It would be great to buy one and make some live/ workspaces and units for small businesses. When we began our graphic design business in London, we were in one and it was a good start for us.

What do you collect? Oh dear, too many things! Paper, tissue fruit wrappers, printed fruit crates, Czechoslovakian matchbox labels from the 50’s and 60’s, vintage children’s books especially any illustrated by Martin and Alice Provensen, King penguins. These are just some of them!

Who are your heroes? As a designer my hero is Terrence Conran I grew up with Habitat furniture. I have a 70’s Habitat sofa that belonged to my parents. It is on its 4th new cover, one for each decade. Terrance Conran made good design available and affordable and he is still going strong into his 80’s.

What inspires you? So many things; Scandinavian design, world textiles, folk art, Japanese craft, interesting typography, or it could be just a pattern that catches my eye on a wrought iron balcony or a tiled floor in an old Spanish bar.

In 10 years time where will you be? I would be happy to be in my kitchen here, hopefully making quince jelly and fig jam from my mature trees that are only 1 meter high at the moment!

Best advice you’ve been given? The only one that really sticks in my mind is the advice that my driving instructor used to say to me all the time – stay loose as a goose. I am prone to getting into a flap, so I say it to myself a lot!

What are your goals for 2013? Carry on planting up the garden. Have a pizza party with pizzas cooked in our wood fired clay oven in the garden. It is Ian’s project and very much in the planning stage. Currently just a pile of wood with a big upturned flowerpot on top, to mark where it is going to be built.

ROUND-UP: Clare & Ian’s Victorian house is bright & spacious. Their love of pattern & print is evident throughout the house in the form of colourful artwork, fabric, books & paper crafts made by Clare herself, offset against white walls & simply designed furniture.  Original features have been given a new lease of life in this light bright open plan house.

To find out about Clare & Ian visit –  & Clare is currently working on a new book but to check out previous publications check out

RECOMMENDED: Ian buys fish from Fruits de Mer on the Broadway.
Ercol furniture from Etcetera.
Old books from The Chapel and Albion Bookshop in Broadstairs.

Clare mentions her love of Howard Hodgkin. You can get your fix and check out the exhibition of Howard Hodgkins at the UpDown Gallery, Elms Avenue, Ramsgate until the 18th of may. one week left – don’t miss it!

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To take part in the Curio contact:

All images ©Jo Willis

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