Antiques dealer’s home has elegance, poise and personality

Its ever-changing contents span several centuries, half a dozen nations and countless periods, yet this effortlessly stylish Regency townhouse holds together perfectly

A visit to Alex MacArthur’s home is a bit like time-travelling through the very best interiors in history. There are Victorian bell jars of jewel-like butterflies, chrome-and-glass Art Deco tables, and stone urns that look as if they’ve come straight from the gardens of some 18th-century Florentine palazzo. There are French rococo chandeliers, Georgian dining chairs and Venetian glass mirrors. Everywhere you look, something beautiful catches your eye and makes you think, “I wish I had that in my house.” The fantastic thing is – you can, for a price. That’s because Alex’s home doubles as a showroom for her antiques business, and everything in it, more or less, is for sale.
She has been working in antiques – sourcing, and then rejuvenating her finds – for more than thirty years, and today has a portfolio of global private clients, designers and hotels for whom she tracks down unique pieces. With her home serving as a backdrop to an impressively diverse stock of furnishings and accessories, her every­day surroundings have become a living, breathing art installation where she, her daughter, and her dogs Quin (Great Dane), Mimi (French bulldog) and Toby (Jack Russell) just happen to live.
Despite her Scottish roots, Alex found herself being pulled south, first to London, then to bohemian Kemp­town in Brighton. “I moved to Brighton 16 years ago,” she recalls, “because I wanted to be close to the sea and to also have some outside space.” She lived at first in part of a converted house (“I knew I could never afford one of these bow-fronted houses”), but over the years she has managed to gradually buy the entire building, from the ground up, across four floors.
It’s a very special spot, says Alex: quiet, unique and laid-back, yet with a distinct edge to it. It is, in short, the perfect location, just a hundred yards from the sea, for her creative sensibilities. And compared to her former cramped flat in London, it has given her ideas room to breathe. Seeing vast stuccoed ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows at this Regency address, there was no doubting just how special it was.

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 198-208, issue 98.

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Words Catherine Coyle
Photography David Woolley