My four-storey revival project was a tall order
Four years ago, when Humberto Banks, pictured right, paid a visit to a friend, he noticed a "for sale" board going up in front of the house next door. For personal and professional reasons, both the timing and the location were perfect. Humberto took one look at the rather neglected property, paid the asking price and spent the next six months restoring it.
"It was one of those strange things," says Humberto. "I am a great believer in following instinct. I believe in vision and seeing something and working hard through a process until I am satisfied. I am a determined person and I stick with what I believe in and I work hard for that."
His persistence has paid off in many ways. The one-time photographer, and now chef and businessman has been involved in setting up several restaurants in the city, and currently runs the H Bar and restaurant at Colston Hall. So he's not afraid of a challenge.
Humberto's energy and creative streak has also been put to good use in doing up the 120-year-old property, which he says was in a "terrible" state.
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Its transformation included complete replastering, a new kitchen and bathroom, restoring the sash windows and ceiling coving and stripping away paint from the internal period doors, spindle banisters and an old dresser.
Two working cast iron period fireplaces already existed in the first-floor lounge and adjoining dining area, but two more were revealed behind boards on the second floor.
Meanwhile, under layers of decades-old carpet were the original floorboards – now sanded and varnished and set off by white painted walls throughout.
These boards appear everywhere in the house, except the ground floor hallway (with original mustard and terracotta coloured tiles), while the stair treads are covered with beige carpet.
Starting on the ground floor, the single reception room is set up as a study, but would make a fifth bedroom, while the first floor is taken up by an open-plan living space, with defined areas for sitting, dining and cooking.
Either side of the chimney breast in the lounge are chunky reclaimed oak shelves, while in the dining area is the stripped period dresser. The wood theme continues into the modern kitchen, where the units and worktops are built of solid oak, with space for a big cooker. At the back of the kitchen is a utility room that opens to the courtyard.
Both bedrooms and the big contemporary bathroom which take up the second floor have original fireplaces, and in the converted loft space are two more bedrooms, with quirky sloping ceilings that children will love. The view across the city from here is quite marvellous.
This house is one of only two in the terrace (the other being one of its immediate neighbours) which remain as single residences; the others have all been split into flats.
Though Humberto lives with only bouncy boxer dog Cookie for company, his two children visit regularly and the house is ideal for a family.
And it's not just the accommodation which has family appeal. Schools, parks and Temple Meads station are all within walking distance, and the area is primed for a great deal of investment and development in the coming years.
Of course, there's no such thing as the perfect property, and the location on the busy Bath Road is the pay off here. "But you are so near the city centre and there is a fantastic garden," Humberto points out. "Sometimes you have to learn to compromise."
But though it's rush hour when we meet, secondary glazing on all the windows at the front means that we can sit and chat over tea in peace and quiet. The only distraction is Cookie, who is deeply involved in a game of chase-the-biscuit.
Running up and down the steep, terraced garden helps keep her fit. The garden extends 200 feet to woods running along the top of all houses in the terrace. It links with the beautiful Arnos Vale cemetery and provides a corridor for wildlife, including a variety of birds and mammals such as deer.
Humberto loves his garden and has placed seating areas on various levels so he can enjoy being outdoors in comfort, listen to the birds, and appreciate the cityscape below.
When the house is sold, Humberto is planning a move back to his native Brazil, to be with his elderly mother, but doesn't rule out returning to Bristol, where he's been living and working for the past 17 years.
Having invested considerable time and money in his home, he's very much attached to it and is anxious to pass it on to good people who will love it as he does. He says: "It would be nice for someone with a family. I would like to think of a nice family living here and doing their best to keep it for posterity."