Caro & Josh's Colorful & Quirky English Home

House Tour

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Name: Caro Ritchie of Corita Rose, her husband Josh and their three children Blue, Tiger and Kit.
Location: A village near Shaftsbury; Dorset, UK
Size: 2,400 square feet
Years lived in: 21 years

The Ritchie's family home in a former-brewery in rural Dorset is a riot of color and pattern. You may remember Caro Ritchie from Corita Rose’s Vibrant and Colorful Studio, where she creates bold and brilliant fabrics under the name Corita Rose. Her three-story house crammed with art, textiles and quirky vintage finds, is just as striking.

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Caro’s father-in-law, an architect, spotted the house, a tall red brick Victorian building in a state of near collapse, whilst driving through the Dorset countryside. He immediately recognized its potential and thought it might appeal to Caro and Josh. He was right. They viewed the derelict property, which had no hot water and only the most basic electricity, and made an offer straight away. Over the next twenty years, they slowly renovated the building starting at the top and working their way down as the family grew and expanded. They have created a welcoming and vibrant family home, full of music, art, creativity and warmth. Enjoy!

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: The house has evolved over a long period of time. Everything is personal and has a story behind it. We had no money when we moved in so pretty much everything is second hand from junk shops or auctions or donated by friends and family.

Inspiration: I am inspired by folklore, heraldry, traditional stories from other cultures and countries from Medici Florence to the Rabari tribe to the Navajo. I love how the bold bright colors of one culture seep through into another.

Favorite Element: I love the ground floor. It is the heart of the home. The layout is in a loop and there are always people there playing music by the fire or chatting at the kitchen table.

Biggest Challenge: When we moved in, the building was derelict. Originally it was a brewery and the pub it served is still next door, but later it became a pottery. When we moved in there were still kilns on the ground floor. There was only very basic electricity and no hot water. We made the upstairs habitable and moved in there. As the children came along and we needed more space we worked our way downwards very very slowly. It took us about 20 years to get to the ground floor.

What Friends Say: One friend called our house, "an artistic mess." I think she meant it in a good way!

Biggest Embarrassment: The artistic mess!

Proudest DIY: Josh and I did the whole house ourselves starting at the top and working our way down.

Biggest Indulgence: The big fire downstairs in the living room.

Best Advice: At first we painted all the rooms white, then as we got to know the space we decided on different colors. Don't get stressed thinking you have to do everything at once. Do the work as it needs doing and take time figuring out what you really want.

Dream Sources: If money were no object, we would go to all the modern British auctions and pick up lots of beautiful paintings.

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Resources of Note:

LIVING ROOM

  • Sofas: donated by friends and recovered in Corita Rose fabrics.
  • Armchairs and footstool: originally belonged to Caro's granny. Recovered in Corita Rose fabrics.
  • Artwork: Screen print of a girl and dog is of their daughter Blue and Elbow the dog by Caro. The Watermelon painting is by Josh's granny, Margaret Macdonald. "She was an architect, interior designer, painter, photographer and a mum. The few paintings she did are wonderful." Photographs of the Guggenhiem in Bilbao and the rodeo at an Alabama prison are by photographer friend Craig Lynn.
  • Cowhide rug: brought back from Rwanda by our daughter Blue.
  • Wooden letters: Portobello market

KITCHEN/ DINING ROOM

  • Kitchen units: Ikea with reclaimed slate worktops from a billiard table and salvaged beech worktops.
  • Dining table: bought at auction, originally from Salisbury choir school
  • Chairs: from a cafe that had closed down
  • Shelves: Old Victorian shop fitting possibly from a pharmacy picked up from a local farm
  • Blackboard: an old church noticeboard
  • Pub mirror: Rescued from The Swan in Notting Hill Gate by Josh's grandfather in the 1960s. "They were chucking out all the original cut glass doors, mirrors and wood panelling. He took the mirror out of a skip."
  • Mary statue: Red Cross charity shop in Shepherd's Bush

UPSTAIRS LIVING ROOM

BEDROOM

  • Bed: upholstered in Corita Rose fabric
  • Curtains: Corita Rose
  • Artwork: Painting of a boy by Prince Philip, who gave it to Josh's grandfather as a gift. The painting of flowers is by artist Philip Sutton. The ox is by an artist friend called Charlie Baird.
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Thanks, Caro and Josh!

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(Image credits: Rebecca Bond)

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Rebecca Bond is a House Tour contributor at Apartment Therapy. She is an interiors-addicted, design-obsessed, Italian-speaking former TV producer director and mother of two gorgeous kids.