Carmarthen’s Other Magician

Staying in Carmarthen recently to finish our eight-part series The Merlin Files, I made a discovery about another remarkable character connected with the town.

Her name is Lauren Treharne and she has lived an awful lot of life in her 30 years.

Like Merlin, she is something of a magician. But rather than transporting gigantic stones from one country to another or dealing in identity-changing drugs, she can transform a house into a work of art, or take a shop and turn it into a world of wonderful possibilities.

Lauren, by her own admission on her website, has had some tough times. But she has risen above experiences that might have stopped some of us in our tracks.

For five years she ran a shop called House By Betty in Narberth. Then in 2019 she moved to Carmarthen where she was given a house to live in – on the condition that she renovated it and got it up and running as an Airbnb.

She did all that with a vengeance – turning a standard terraced house into an exercise in restrained stylishness, punctuated with minimalist decor, original art and quirky books.

And that’s not all. Just before that, in November, she had opened a new House By Betty shop in the centre of Carmarthen – two floors packed with exquisite items for the home, all chosen for their quality, originality and beauty.

As with all local businesses, the lockdown had a huge impact, but now Lauren’s shop (with coffee bar) is up and running again and doing brisk business.

And why Betty? Because her grandmother Elizabeth was known as Betty – and Lauren’s dad wanted to call her Betty too; but her mum prevailed and so she was named Lauren instead.Thus the name of the shop and all the hard work and creativity that went into creating them are a tribute to Betty.

And if you stay at Lauren’s Airbnb, you’ll find she also has a very friendly cat – called, of course, Betty.

House By Betty, 35 Blue Street Carmarthen SA31 3LE; www.housebybetty.com

Betty the cat

Nigel Summerley

Nigel Summerley retired from The Oldie magazine to return to freelance journalism. He previously held executive staff jobs at the London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Express before freelancing for 20 years for newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the ‘i’ paper, plus a wide range of magazines. He continues to write about music, travel and health, and blogs at www.nigel-summerley.blogspot.com.

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