Words by Kate Thompson
It’s the house you drew at school when you were a child (four bay windows with a door in the centre) – and Brett Holtom and Ed Garcia are delighted to call it home.
They were previously living in a flat in Old Portsmouth, but decided to move when they became the proud owners of a puppy.
“It does seem like an excessive purchase for a small dog, but we were keen to get some outside space,” confided Brett.
“Now we live in the perfect square mile in Southsea where everything is on our doorstep, from artisan bakers to cool cafes – and we just love it.”
It could have been so different. The pair were just a couple of weeks away from moving into a major-project purchase in Petersfield when they were gazumped by a celebrity – and instead found themselves moving into a delicious Victorian villa in Southsea.
“The house is perfect for our little life – you might think it’s a big house for just the two of us but we get lots of guests coming to stay.
“The scale of the rooms is just perfect, and has allowed us to be a bit more adventurous with our purchases because the rooms can take it.
Fiona Lawson from Design House Southsea in Marmion Road has been a guiding light for Brett and Ed.
“We’ve worked really well with Fiona. She advised us to start each room with one piece you love, and everything else will fall into place around it,” explained Brett.
Ironically, while being the deciding factor for making the move in the first place, their south facing, courtyard garden is positively bijoux, but Brett and Ed have made the most of the space with the clever use of design and mirrors.
“It is the tiniest space in our home, and we have done quite a bit of work to make the space work for us.
“Now we use it like another room. It is our al fresco dining area, and since we put a heater on the back wall of the garage, we don’t get cold and can stay out here until late,” he said.
When they moved, they undertook some major work replacing floors and re-instating period features such as cornicing and ceiling roses.
A formal dining room has now become a TV snug, and they are now preparing to make the biggest change to date when they create a new kitchen/diner space.
“We will be taking a wall down and the kitchen/diner will become quite large, but it will make this the perfect party house.
“We both love to play the piano, and our parties always end up with a sing-song gathered around the piano. Having this new space will mean the piano can be more available for when we break into song,” he said.
While Brett had lived in 20 houses before the age of 18, Ed, who comes from Tenerife, had only known the one family home – and it’s clear that having the right living space is something that is important for both of them.
Southsea clearly is the place they love to be and is endorsed by the fact that both are content to tackle a sizeable commute for their work.
“Ed works for BMW financial services in Farnborough, and I work for the Cabinet Office in London.
“I’ve lived in Southsea for 18 years and just love the place. We’ve got supper clubs, fantastic cafés, and delis to die for. But best of all, we love the nice people you bump into along the way.”