Stepping into Sadie Spikes’ Victorian home in Fishponds immediately makes you feel at peace. Perhaps it’s the white walls or the stripped floorboards; perhaps the pretty fairy lights around the doors. Or maybe it’s the foot-high statue of the Virgin Mary standing on an altar-like side table, below a big mirror.
“I love the Virgin Mary,” Sadie says as we sit down at her kitchen table, immaculately set for elevenses with vintage teacups and a homemade sponge cake. “I’m not deeply religious, but I love having iconography in the house – it makes me laugh. Plus, I’m an advocate of women and what they put up with.”
Sadie was born in Bristol and grew up in Clevedon, where her parents ran a retirement home and sent her to a convent school run by nuns. “There are certain objects that I can remember being moved by, or transfixed by, in my lifetime,” Sadie continues.
“I’m driven by the magic in objects with a story. The iconography in the convent gave me this intangible feeling of an essence of calm, like being in a church. I loved the order of it all.”
It’s a philosophy she applies to her own home. “Over the years, I’ve got rid of anything that wasn’t either beautiful or practical,” Sadie says. The result is a truly eclectic, homely space that reflects her personality an artist and maker with fingers in many pies.
Her house is a family home, a space for Sadie to work and create art, and also hosts visitors as The Curious Guesthouse, a project she has run for the past decade with the aim of creating a space to stay that is “soothing for the soul”, as she puts it.
Sadie’s bright and colourful kitchen sets the tone of the whole house. More iconography shares a windowsill with the B&B breakfast menu, while the seats around the table are salvaged from an opera house and were reupholstered in hot pink by Sadie.
“They are fantastic but rather impractical,” she says, having to pull out the whole row as they are all screwed together.
The family’s private living room at the back of the house is cloaked in dark shades and velvet cushions, a shiny black upright piano and open wood fire creating instant warmth and Victorian-era cosiness.
The pale walls and stripped floors continue over the next two storeys, which are dedicated to family and guest bedrooms and bathrooms. “Every inch of this house has been painted by me,” Sadie says as we ascend the stairs. “It wasn’t like this when we bought the house – it was very unloved. She was crying. But, she had a lovely feel and she shone, beneath all the crap.”
Starting at the top of the house, the eaves conceal a matching pair of bright white double en-suite guest rooms that Sadie describes as a “little bit of heaven”. Brilliant white bed linen and walls are complimented by vintage wooden furniture, big mirrors and pretty fairy lights.
Through a door in each room is a private bathroom, complete with a roll-top bath squeezed into a seemingly-impossibly small space, but that can’t feel cramped when flooded with natural light from a huge skylight.
“I basically worked out the bathrooms on a fag packet,” Sadie grins. When we were putting them in, I was thinking, ‘Shit! I hope this works!’ but they have turned out wonderfully. When there’s a full moon, you can lie in the bath and look at the moon and stars.”
A floor below are Sadie and her family’s bedrooms and bathrooms. The crowning glory of her own room, the master bedroom at the front of the house with a big bay window, is an incredible sleigh-like wooden bed.
“This has been in my bedroom for five generations. It goes to the eldest daughter each time,” Sadie says, running her fingers over the smooth wood. “I remember sitting on the end of it as a kid. It actually used to be a lot smaller because they were all midgets back then; my husband is 6’4” so it had to be extended.
“The happiest time of my day is getting into bed, so your bedroom needs to be quite special.”
This is now a time of change for Sadie, as in the new year she plans to close her current B&B model, and instead turn the house into a gallery with overnight accommodation available for private views, allowing guests to truly absorb and appreciate the art.
“It’s exciting to break away. I’m interested in how you reinvent your space, so it doesn’t become static,” she says. “You move, change and grow, and your house changes throughout time too.”
Find out more about Sadie’s projects at www.sadiespikescuriouscabinet.com.
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