THE HOUSE TOUR// THE INSPIRING HOME OF SARAH // TOTTERDOWN BRISTOL
I first met Sarah not long after we opened our store and we got on straight away. Sarah was very complimenting of the store and was a real encouragement when we opened. We have hugely similar taste which often leads to Sarah making a purchase in the store, most likely of one of my
favourite pieces. Edd delievered a piece to Sarah one day in her flat in Totterdown and came back really excited, telling me very intensly how much I had to see this place and how much I would love it. It sounded like a dark Alladins cave full of treasure but not in a sparkly kind of way. More of a fantastic collection of oddities and curios. I have always known since then I would love Sarah’s home, from what she bought in store and her tales of things bought from else where as well as pieces found and re-modeled. I asked her to do a house tour without even having a look myself. As suspected when I finally got there this was no ordinary home, this is a reflection of Sarah’s creativity and an extension to her work that is ever expanding.
The Intriguing Shelves
Shelves are the main way Sarah tries to expand her space. There is plans for many new ones and each have a general theme and often start with just one piece. As it is a one bedroom flat and the collection is every increasing the shelves really help to curate the collection into easy to digest visual feasts without being overwhelming. The colours are subtle and the shelves are deep allowing for the books to be fronted by more unusual finds. Weirdly the only thing Sarah thinks in the flat that is not quite working is the Hawian bust, as it is one of the last pieces of her previous Kitsch collection but it does show a nice transition and helps to bring a bit of extra fun to the shelves.
Sarah has lived in her basement flat in Totterdown for three years, over this time and moving on from her last place her collection has taken a swerve.
Sarah tells me she used to collect mainly Kitsch and mid century items including Disney paraphernalia and much more brighter pieces. Although there has always been the religious pieces the whole collection has got considerably darker and much more curated. Apparently lots has gone, we are down to the most loved pieces and as the flat is quite small every new pieces has to be carefully considered and have an appropriate home ready.
This lovely Doe head is Wendy and one of Sarah’s first Dig Haüshizzle purchases. Sarah is a Jewellery designer so throughout her home you can see glimpses of her own work whether from her time at Central St Martins or her more recent work. As well as many other pieces that inspire her. Every piece that has a neck or could possibly hold a necklace seems to have something on it. Wendy is no exception.
Sarah lives in a rented flat so this has not allowed for any re-modelling of the Kitchen, or any major adjustments. It is just testament to her creativity that with the restrictions of a rented property you can make it into the most wonderful home without sinking your money into things that wont always be yours. The walls are generally all white although I believe since we have shot this there has been a bit of colour making its way into the lounge.
I have been taught a great lesson from Sarah. Whenever she comes in she is very into the small pieces from the constrictions of having a small flat and wanting to be able to continually add things. I tend to be drawn to looking at the bigger things and thats what gets me excited. On seeing her home though this has changed me I am looking for smaller things for our home and the store, and thinking more about creating small collections. The shelf above is one of the most perfect, with each little piece considered and arranged to work together.
I loved this little dome styled with the porcelain doll pieces it just really grabbed my eye. Also it shows one of Sarahs huge obsessions. Hands.
There are many hands and arms around the flat often turning up in curious places. Sarah explains the collection has come from suffering a stroke 8 years ago and loosing the use of her left hand and being one hand down has made her more interested in their shape and form and also it means its the one part of the collection her friends and family can’t go on at her for collecting.
Sarah’s workspace is a hive of inspiration and collected oddities just waiting to be found the perfect use for. There are dolls heads in jars, buttons, beads, previous works, lenses and cupping jars.
Sarah is an ebay trawler and always looking for a bargain, the plastic human model was bought off ebay and came from America and despite the import tax costing almost as much as the model it is one of her favourite medical items. The box of spectacle lenses are also sat waiting for the perfect idea to come to light.
I find this the ultimate “mini gallery of inspiration” a leap on from the traditional 2D mood board. “THE END” is a beautifully hand made pin by Sarah and the gallery tends to rotate with new exciting finds. One thing not photographed but had a little presence in the workspace was a small collection of dead insects that Sarah had put together ready to draw. I half expect to see a dead Bee in this gallery next time.
Sarah is incredibly talented and this insect watercolour is one of the artworks Sarah has made from drawing the bugs found at home. I am personally really drawn to it, it is extensively detailed and delicate. Some of Sarah work will be available to buy at the forthcoming “Front Room” in Totterdown at 66 Richmond Place on the 16th November.
Although Sarah is really not a huge love of pink, the “pink palace” neon fits right in and helps to show off the expansive jewellery collection on the much loved mannequin, Stella. A question I posed to Sarah was what is her most treasured item. After a bit of debating Sarah announced “Stella” The mannequin above to be her most treasured. Stella was bought for her for Christmas from her Dad whom apparently buys the most fantastic gifts and knows just what she would like. Stella came unwrapped and nicotine stained from its home in a local shop since the 1970’s. After lots of scrubbing she cleaned up good and has taken pride of place in Sarah’s bedroom.
The plaster Jesus is another of Sarah’s favorite pieces. He sits opposite her bed displaying an abundance of necklaces. He is handless as many plaster statutes used to have removable hands that soldiers could take to war as a religious keepsake and very few hand came back to their statues.
For ever the forager and on the look out for what can be done with the rare free items that come up, Sarah recovered her bed and wardrobe from a couple of roads up before it went in a skip. It is a matching set that really works with all the unusual adornments and eclectic styles. Frida the cat named after one of Sarah’s Hero’s Frida Kahlo makes herself very comfortable on the bed and spent the day eying us suspiciously.
I love this mantle piece display everything has its place, the extra height given by the candlesticks on the end really help to tie it in. The punch of the bright red of the roses takes gives an extra dimension to the neutral pallet of the mantlepiece. I like the almost creepy additions of the puppets too, they add a bit of extra drama. So do the the highly sexual porcelain figures, I think a necessity to any perfectly styled mantlepiece.
Below is the view through to the kitchen. I do have a slight obsession with interior windows and as well as letting lots of extra light in it also gives an extra shelf and space to be filled with intriguing displays. As well as what seems to be fish swimming in mid air.
Sarah’s main tip on collecting is to “stick to a colour palette and be strict on buying within it, you can have pops of different colours but it helps to have a base colour palette this helps you to remember what is missing and what will not work”
I cant get over how lucky we are to be able to see the secret world of people’s homes and second how lucky we are and excited I get when they agree for us to photograph them. Firstly When I say “us” I’m not meaning myself and Edd. This is mine and Anni’s territory. Anni is our wonderful home photographer. I actually went to school with Anni and although our paths crossed a few times we were never really close friends. Now ten years later we meet again and damn we have loads in common and pretty much like the same things. Anni’s day job is as a medical photographer and probably slightly more into the macabre than myself. Her work sounds amazing and she is always looking for exciting new projects to work on. So when we started doing the house tours and having a few places in mind. I knew this would be one that would really intrigue her. So its fair to say we have a pretty awesome time together doing this.
When planning the shoot Anni asked what Sarah’s house was like, a bit stumped I just said I think its going to be full of stuff, but cool stuff, its a basemenet flat, bring some lights and we will see how it goes. I wasnt quite prepared for how good all this “stuff” was going to look. It is a well thought out, precision picked collection that runs through the whole Flat and I love it.
Thank You Sarah for letting us share your wonderful home.
// Cassie x
All Interior photos by Anni Skilton of ANNIK MEDIA