Cotswold interiors: The cube house in Bath

PUBLISHED: 12:58 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:58 10 September 2020

The family don�t often use the formal lounge, although the Jotul multi-fuel burner keeps it warm. The library shelving made by Somer Joinery can be seen at the far end of the room

The family don�t often use the formal lounge, although the Jotul multi-fuel burner keeps it warm. The library shelving made by Somer Joinery can be seen at the far end of the room

Fraser Marr

Entrusting the keys to his new Bath house to builder brother James and designer wife Beth, Paul Kettlety disappeared abroad for nine months...

It was a cold day in the winter of 2013 when Paul Kettlety came to view his 1980s cube house in Bath.

“The house was even colder,” he says. “And it was also very dark with old-fashioned tiling everywhere and an altogether clinical feel. But it was immaculately kept and I loved it.”

The house was actually two cubes, one higher up the hill than the other, linked by a corridor which bisected them. They were faced in reconstituted sandstone – which added to the chill factor – and consisted of three levels with five bedrooms. A double garage took up the ground floor and the whole area was some 2,000 sq ft.

The original sandstone exterior looked quite grim so Paul and his builder brother James Kettlety softened it with cedar cladding (photo: Fraser Marr)The original sandstone exterior looked quite grim so Paul and his builder brother James Kettlety softened it with cedar cladding (photo: Fraser Marr)

“It was in a great location with a great outlook and had been very well looked after,” he says. “But nothing had been done to it since it had been built.”

It emerged that the elderly owner was down-sizing and wanted to leave immediately – “taking only his personal bits,” says Paul. “So, I was able to move in straightaway – which suited me quite well – and start using his furniture, even down to the plates, cups and saucers. I lived there on and off for a year – I travel a great deal with my job – while deciding what I needed to do to it.”

Luckily Paul’s brother James Kettlety is a builder and his wife Beth a spatial and interior designer. They also live close by in Bath. “So, I was able to hand over the keys to them, describe what I wanted and then disappear abroad for the next nine months.”

Paul in his contemporary kitchen (photo: Fraser Marr)Paul in his contemporary kitchen (photo: Fraser Marr)

When Paul returned the house had been transformed.

“The only planning permission we’d needed was to have the exterior clad in untreated cedar,” he says. “I had to do something to the exterior – it had looked too brutal before. That had gone through with no trouble at all, quite unusual for Bath, considering I live in a conservation area. However, the planners seem to have fewer issues regarding 1980s properties. The cedar has since weathered to an attractive silver-grey.”

If the previous owner had stepped into his home, he would never have recognised it. The only things unchanged were the hardwood windows which were in very good condition.

The hall, which bisects the two cubes of the house (photo: Fraser Marr)The hall, which bisects the two cubes of the house (photo: Fraser Marr)

But the rest of the house had been gutted back to its original breeze blocks and then rewired, replastered and replumbed. In addition, Beth, as spatial designer, had removed a number of walls to make a big kitchen-dining-snug which is where Paul and his sons spend most of their time. “We also have a more formal lounge and study to the front of the house but hardly ever use it,” he says.

Beth had also turned one of the bedrooms above into an en suite bathroom plus walk-in wardrobe which, combined with an adjoining bedroom, created a master suite. “I wanted more living space, less sleeping space,” is how Paul puts it.

Inside the hall, which bisects the two cubes of the house. The bespoke oak staircase was made by joiners Aldworth James and Bond (photo: Fraser Marr)Inside the hall, which bisects the two cubes of the house. The bespoke oak staircase was made by joiners Aldworth James and Bond (photo: Fraser Marr)

New gas central heating had been installed along with two Jotul wood burners, and all the lower floors had been laid with new oak flooring – “except for the kitchen, which has a polished concrete floor. Upstairs is carpeted and the bathrooms have wood-effect porcelain tiles,” says Paul.

No expense had been spared on the joinery, both outside and in. “I had a bespoke staircase, handmade doors (as none of the doorways were standard-size) – all beautifully laminated, meaning consisting of many layers of wood – and bespoke cabinetry,” he says. “And outside I had handmade oak doors and door frames.”

The kitchen was handmade, and the turquoise tiles came from Fired Earth. The floor is polished concrete (photo: Fraser Marr)The kitchen was handmade, and the turquoise tiles came from Fired Earth. The floor is polished concrete (photo: Fraser Marr)

The new kitchen was also handmade and had the interesting addition of a brass worktop on the island. “It might have looked smart for a short time but it really wasn’t a very good idea,” says Paul. “The polish to the brass didn’t last long as it tarnishes and we couldn’t find an effective solution, so I ended up having to re-cover it in granite.”

Were there any problems during the refurbishment? “None at all,” he says. “I’ve renovated quite a few Georgian and Victorian properties over the years and there have always been hitches – but not usually with an 80s house. No hidden problems here.”

The dining table is made from American mahogany and the chairs are by Coach. The wine cooler in the centre of the units is a Leibherr (photo: Fraser Marr)The dining table is made from American mahogany and the chairs are by Coach. The wine cooler in the centre of the units is a Leibherr (photo: Fraser Marr)

Paul wanted a Scandinavian/New England look to his new home. “Most of the walls are painted in Dulux’s Timeless emulsion – a warm off-white – with Timeless eggshell on the skirting boards,” he says. “I bought some of the furniture new, like the handmade sofas and armchairs and some I have collected on my travels. Now it has a very relaxed feeling, which is just what I want. Unlike a lot of people – who don’t travel most of the year as I do – I want to feel I’m on holiday when I’m at home.”

The armchair in the library came from Andrew Martin, and the library shelving seen beyond was made by Aldworth James and Bond (photo: Fraser Marr)The armchair in the library came from Andrew Martin, and the library shelving seen beyond was made by Aldworth James and Bond (photo: Fraser Marr)

The wall on the left surrounding the mirrors is of polished concrete, and the Porcelanosa tiles behind the Villeroy & Boch bath (seen in the mirror) are ceramic with a wood-effect (photo: Fraser Marr)The wall on the left surrounding the mirrors is of polished concrete, and the Porcelanosa tiles behind the Villeroy & Boch bath (seen in the mirror) are ceramic with a wood-effect (photo: Fraser Marr)

The silkscreen print in Paul'’s son’'s bedroom is of the Mona Lisa (photo: Fraser Marr)The silkscreen print in Paul'’s son’'s bedroom is of the Mona Lisa (photo: Fraser Marr)

The gold basin and tiling in the en suite bathroom are from Porcelanosa, and the suite from Villeroy & Boch (photo: Fraser Marr)The gold basin and tiling in the en suite bathroom are from Porcelanosa, and the suite from Villeroy & Boch (photo: Fraser Marr)

Paul had the headboard in the main bedroom made from a silk-linen mix fabric (photo: Fraser Marr)Paul had the headboard in the main bedroom made from a silk-linen mix fabric (photo: Fraser Marr)

Address book

Aldworth James and Bond, 020 8269 0883, aldworthjamesandbond.co.uk

Builder James Kettlety, 07894 354549, rathbourne.co.uk

Spatial designer Beth Kettlety, 07894 354549

Somer Joinery, 01761 415511 somer-joinery.co.uk

Porcelanosa, porcelanosa.com

Villeroy & Boch. villeroy-boch.co.uk

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