Learn to love your clutter

The beautiful and the unusual, the kitsch and the quirky have all found a home in Joanna Coupland's cottage. Step over the threshold and you find yourself in a wonderland full of fairy lights, feather trimmed lamps, a doll's head encased in a glass dome, cupcake candles and hand-made exotic birds... and so much more.

A combination of serendipity, Joanna's rampant creativity and a car boot sale addiction have combined to make every room fabulous and fun. It all adds up to a two-fingered salute to minimalism and the tyrannical concept of de-cluttering.

"I tried to make the dining room more minimalist once.

"I painted it white and bought white things to put in it, but I couldn't stand it. It wasn't me at all. I'm very visually orientated and I love collecting things from everywhere and having them on display," says Joanna, a designer, best-known for her lighting and decorations crafted from paper and wire.

She moved to the Victorian cottage in York 14 years ago, though it took her over a year and a ring on her finger before

she could buy it. "It belonged to an old lady and her mum and one of the specifications was that they wouldn't sell to a cohabiting couple who weren't married. They were quite religious," says Joanna.

"They refused to sell it to me and my partner because we weren't married at the time. I was gutted. A year later we decided to get married, though not because of the house, and it was still on the market.

"The ladies eventually agreed to it sell to us – though we didn't mention we had two children."

When she moved in to the three-bedroom property everything was painted magnolia, including the cast iron fireplace. "I love colour, so the magnolia had to go. I'm afraid the ladies who sold the house to me would probably hate how it looks now."

It is a riot of colour and interest and is a hive of activity after Joanna became a full-time designer maker.

After her daughter, Pollyanna, left for university, Joanna requisitioned part of her bedroom as a workshop.

She trained in fashion but her business began after taking a course in surface pattern when she was 36.

"I did a project for the course making a bird from wire and paper and really enjoyed it and then I started getting commissions," she says.

Joanna makes her fairy lights and decorations for private clients and for shops. She is planning to launch her own shop with a friend in the upstairs rooms at Birdies Perch in York in July selling her designs, which range from 10 for a decoration to 139 for a set of lights.

Much of her work, including birds inspired by her country childhood near Pocklington, features in her own home along with finds from her foraging expeditions to car boot sales and mementoes of her travels. "I love old stuff from second-hand shops and car boot sales especially the one at the Knavesmire in York and I'd much rather spent 30 on a bag of interesting bargains from a car boot than spend it in a designer shop.

"I don't even mind when things are a bit broken.They don't have to be perfect for me to love them," says Joanna, whose current obsessions are glass cake stands, standard lamps, and stags. Although you imagine she wouldn't be able to cram any more in, she says she can always find space for more.

Her son Max, 19, and daughter Pollyanna, 22, don't mind at all and if she ever sells she won't be de-cluttering for the sake of would-be buyers.

"I 've thought about that and I'll definitely leave it as it is. Some people hate it, but most like it.

"My main problem if I ever move will be packing everything up."

Joanna's is at Radiance Lighting, Hebden Bridge www. radiance lighting.co.uk; Wild Hart, York, www.wildhart.co.uk and Birdies Perch, 88 Clifton, York. Contact Joanna via email at joanna_coupland@hotmail.co.uk

YP MAG 24/4/10

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