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Absolutely Mama tours lifestyle store owner Nicola...

Absolutely Mama tours lifestyle store owner Nicola Eyre’s stylish Span house

Cissy Wears

Nicola Eyre, owner of Cissy Wears, gives us a tour of her stylish home

Nicola Eyre is the founder of Cissy Wears. Cissy Wears is a super-cool family lifestyle store in Hither Green. Having lived in London for over 20 years, last year she moved to New Ash Green in Kent along with her husband and their four children. The family had been looking out for a 1960s Span house by the architect Eric Lyons for a number of years when they finally came across the perfect property. Radical for their time, Span houses continue to inspire modern architecture, built with the ethos to create a ‘home within a garden’. We took a peek inside the family’s light and airy new home.

Q How did you come to buy the house and what drew you to it?

A Span houses are usually 2 or 3 bedroom, and the larger houses (we are a family of 6) are few and far between. The last one we saw on the market was about 8 years ago when Cissy was a baby, and although we totally fell in love, we just didn’t feel the time was right for us to move outside of London. We’d always kept an eye on the area, and then one day one of the large houses came up on the market. We made a snap decision to go and see it and that was it. We decided we wanted to go for it and made the decision to move.

Q What was it like when you bought it and did you do any renovation work before it was ready for you move in?

A The previous owner was an elderly gentleman who had been there for 38 years with his wife and four children, so the decor was… dated.

Q How long did it take you to redecorate and what was the biggest project?

A We knew when we bought it that we were going to have to gut the whole place as several internal walls had been put up over the years and we wanted to strip it back to its former style. A lot of the original features were still there – like the flooring, exposed brickwork, skirting, and even the kitchen. We tried to salvage what we could, although when the builders moved in they discovered all the ceilings had asbestos in them (pretty common for the era) so everything had to be put on hold whilst it was ripped out. Similarly, the original parquet floor which we hoped to restore was full of asbestos-filled bitumen which meant we had to lose that too. The biggest project was the painstaking installation of replacement finger parquet flooring which had to be put down tile by tile.

Q What was your vision?

A I wanted to get it back to how it originally was without transporting myself into some Austin Powers style time warp. I wanted to modernise it in keeping with my own minimalist tastes.

Q As the owner of a lifestyle store, is there a temptation to bring home everything you source for the shop?

A Well actually, my whole concept is that if I wouldn’t have it in my house, then I wouldn’t have it in my shop. So I do have to put my money where my mouth is sometimes.

Q Which room is your favourite? 

A I love my open-plan lounge area, the huge windows let loads of light in and it’s so peaceful to sit under the green of the trees surrounded by my calm space.

Q How did it feel moving out of London? And what do you love about your new area?

A Maybe it’s because I still work in London, but I didn’t feel any great emotion moving away. I’m back several times a week, so very much feel like a Londoner. What I do notice when I come back though is the change in air quality, that’s something I’d never noticed but now very glad to be away from. Also it’s so lovely to hear the sound of birdsong so loudly and clearly every time you open a window or door. Whilst some people feel an affinity to the sea, I love to be surrounded by woodland and trees. Having said that, we are only 45 minutes drive from the coast now, so I’m looking forward to the summer when we can head to the beach after school.

Q How has it changed your family life?

A I’m still waiting for that! We live such busy lives that we still haven’t found that change in pace I was hoping for. Maybe when you have four kids and your own business you never get to slow down!

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