Once a chaotic student house, Kibi Wright’s elegant home is now the perfect setting for peaceful celebrations with family and friends
Call me Mother Christmas – it’s what I’m known as around here,’ says Kibi Wright as she welcomes you into her house on one of Bristol’s Georgian terraces. Candy pink and adorned with a silver wreath, the door stands out among its more sober neighbours. Inside, the festive theme continues with candles, garlands, baubles and a vertigo-inducing tree glowing with fairy lights in the elegant first-floor sitting room. When Kibi and her late husband Mark first viewed the house in 2001, they needed all the power of their imaginations to see how it could work as a home for them and their two children, Eliza and Oli. ‘It had been used as student accommodation,’ says Kibi, ‘so there were four kitchens and all the main rooms had been divided.’ NEW CHAPTER Despite wanting to restore the house to its original layout, the couple still had to get permission to turn it back into a single home as it had been listed as flats in the Seventies. The restoration took six months, with a few horrors uncovered along the way. ‘The builders discovered a carjack holding up a beam in the attic. That meant the roof had to be redone, which wasn’t something we had factored in.’ Fortunately, all the original features, including fireplaces, cornicing and shutters, had been preserved, albeit hidden behind stud walls and fire doors. ‘Once they were uncovered and restored, the whole house had a completely different feel,’ remembers Kibi. Having waited patiently for the building work to be completed, Kibi was finally able to turn her attention to the decoration. ‘It seemed like quite a grand house after our old flat, so I wanted an elegant scheme in keeping with its origins,’ she says. ELEGANCE REIGNS Today, classic Farrow & Ball-painted walls sit alongside more extravagant papered walls, while antique pieces seem perfectly at ease next to contemporary designs. ‘I have no problem with mixing things up,’ says Kibi, who draws a lot of inspiration from her travels. ‘I saw the most beautiful etched-glass door at a parfumerie in Paris and wondered how I could recreate it at home.’ She picked up two glazed doors at a local reclamation yard and enlisted an artist to design and etch them in a similar style. ‘I’m so pleased with them as I wanted a thoroughly glamorous and indulgent bathroom where I could disappear occasionally to escape the family hubbub!’ Overthe years, the house has adapted to a growing family, which now includes Hector,14, and Oscar,12. Mark passed away in 2017 and the family are adjusting to life without him. ‘I did wonderif we should move, especially now the oldest two are at university,’says Kibi, ‘but this house has been such a haven for us, as well as holding so many memories, that it wouldn’t be right to leave.
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