It led to him starting an online vintage and retro fashion and interiors business, and even supplying props for films, including Tim Burton’s latest.
He and his wife Emma swapped life in the city for the village of Freuchie – but the move to a three-storey, four-bedroom house also prompted Carl to launch the business venture he had contemplated for two years.
Leather goods – including satchels and interiors pieces – that he had brought back from travels abroad had been much admired by friends, so Carl started Scaramanga. It proved so popular he opened a shop in Fife, moving last year into larger premises in Cupar. Today, he frequently provides period pieces for film sets, has supplied Monsoon with wooden bowls, and regularly sells vintage suitcases to high street stores for displays and photo shoots.
“When we moved to Freuchie, I had worked for BT in sales and marketing for 13 years, but didn’t want the stress of commuting to Edinburgh every day,” recalls Carl. “It was a gamble to start Scaramanga as I was leaving a fairly secure job and was starting something in which there was no certainty that it would be successful. I started the online business in our spare bedroom. I went out to India, bought pieces to sell here, got leather satchels made, leather journals, spice boxes, wooden bowls, that sort of thing.”
He adds: “Items like the leather bags and journals are made for me in India, but all the interior pieces we sell are old. I source a lot of items here at auction rooms and from local suppliers. I get interior designers coming to me looking for pieces within a certain style, or antique chests and trunks. We provided half a dozen 17th and 18th-century trunks for the [as yet unnamed] Burton movie.”
Having immersed himself in the business, Carl and Emma, a teacher, have naturally embraced the Scaramanga style at home. The early Victorian, B-listed house they bought in 2006 had already been refurbished by a property developer. Having retained all its original woodwork, this was something the couple wanted to further highlight. Over the past six years – in between the arrival of children Josh, three, and 18-month-old Ella – they have made the house their own.
They removed the white fitted kitchen and replaced it with free-standing units found in India. They sourced Victorian fireplaces for the dining room and living room from salvage yards in Edinburgh, adding a red stove in the family room. They also installed a carved door and a small internal window – chance purchases in India – between the kitchen and family room.
They have chosen to accentuate the natural wood around the house with 1930s-style furniture in the dining room, chocolate brown leather armchairs in the family room and by adding a wooden sleigh bed in the master bedroom.
“The house had been completely renovated, new floorboards, a new roof, all walls replastered and so on,” says Carl. “Over time we have just added and changed things ourselves. The previous kitchen was very white and very new – but the house is very old. It occurred to me that my business is about vintage and retro pieces, so it made sense for us to live with that style. The kitchen was an extension to the house and the family room was originally an outbuilding for animals, but the developer successfully joined it to the house – we installed the old Indian door and window between these rooms. We put in a period radiator in the kitchen – I have more to install but will do that in the summer.
“We started the kitchen 18 months ago and literally in the past three weeks have finally installed the new range cooker. The units are all freestanding and were brought back from India. They are colourful and different. I bought the old brass taps on eBay. We have just finished the kitchen – it has always been perfectly useable, but it was a case of doing things a stage at a time. The kitchen is the room we spend most of our time in and we’re delighted with it now – it is exactly what we envisaged.”
The couple chose oak worktops to go with the units and reclaimed Belfast sink, adding a retro Smeg fridge freezer. The feature wallpaper was a limited edition wall covering from Habitat. The floor tiles were replaced with linoleum, which is warmer underfoot. All of the furniture in the family room was bought to fit the space – the sofas are from John Lewis and the artwork is Aboriginal. In the dining room, they decided to replicate a 1930s style with Art Deco sideboard, table and chairs. “The 1930s style works well in that room as all the furniture is oak,” says Carl.
Upstairs, a Jack-and-Jill bathroom is sandwiched between two bedrooms, while the children’s bedrooms are on the top floor.
The couple have still to put their mark on the living room, which they have used for storage while doing work in other rooms.
However, it is towards Scaramanga that Carl is turning his immediate attention. Though with launches of new leather ranges, and a constant turnover of antique and reclaimed home items at his fingertips, it is likely the living room will soon be getting the same vintage makeover the rest of the house has enjoyed.
• Scaramanga, Cupar, Fife (0845 259 1158, www.scaramangashop.co.uk)