Journey Home 2: Sophie
You are warmly welcomed to Sophie's home where she lives with her husband Owen and two grown up sons Oscar and Louis. Her house has a very relaxed feel and harks to her French roots and oozes art. There isn’t really a colour or even style that holds it all together but rather the obsession with art.
We began our journey in the kitchen where the adopted dog (belonging to her daughter who lives close by) is casually lounging on the chair, her son-in-law and husband are creating their own craft beer in the garden and Sophie shows me the many handmade items on the bench. She explains that her and Owen met at Art school and when they had their first child they made their own plates as they couldn't afford to buy any. How bohemian! Owen’s own art work is displayed and really strikes you as you enter this room. Nine perfectly square sketched pots with subtle variations arranged perfectly and symmetrically in a square.
There are memories and I would say celebrations of the children everywhere. Some framed flip flops, artwork above the oven from a very talented 3 year old and even their small bedroom has become an artist's studio. They really live and breathe art all the time. And for someone who has no original art in their house, I absolutely love it! I think the high Victorian ceilings lend themselves well to being covered in pictures but it really isn't as intense as I'm describing. Sophie's career naturally turned to teaching and she now works with sixth formers so there are even works by her students adorning her home. There is a sculpture on the stairs that has table legs realigned and repurposed to show how we can look at things from another perspective. There is also something kind of equestrian about it!
Sophie admits that she is always changing things around. I can totally identify with this. I think when you have an aesthetic eye you are always wondering how something will look if placed in a different location or room or seeing the light reflect off it in a different way. This can be fun and frustrating! Sophie loves this creative process.
There are so many touching stories in this house imbued with meaning and emotion that you wouldn’t expect from inanimate objects. Sophie has an old mirror on a shelf in her hallway that looks quite medieval and a sharp broken pane shows its aged facade. She explains that this hung on a wall in Northern France where she grew up and speaks fondly of childhood memories where she would sit in the evening and watch coloured beams of red and orange bounce around the room and make patterns. Then for her 40th birthday her mum sourced a similar antique mirror in better condition for her.
These adorable little chairs have been reupholstered with Designers Guild velvet fabric and inject colour into the room not only with its vibrant hue but also the incredible texture of the fabric that changes the way light is reflected with every touch. Something antique with a modern twist is my favourite style in my own home.
My absolute favourite space in the house is this little conservatory right in the middle of the house where bright light just oozes in and fills the space. This surprises me as I am not normally a fan of blank white walls. The green plants and trinkets on the wall invite me to come in and just relax there. There is more art piled by the side of the wall just to remind you that the artists who live here LOVE a clean white space as a starting point for all their creations.
In the same way Oscar’s room is a white blank cube but filled with coloured pens and pots and art. I love that this used to be his bedroom when he was a little boy but how it has been completely transformed into a serious working space where he comes up with his new creations. I imagine Sophie can still remember him making up his first stories or lego scenes like it was just yesterday.
Art isn’t only created on the canvas though. There is subtle arrangement of artefacts everywhere from postcards as well as objects found in nature on family walks. Everything looks so natural and unintentional and yet i know it has all been placed for a reason.
At the end of our stimulating discussion we go out into the garden. I had such fond memories of my friend’s hen party there quite a few years ago as it being a very inviting warm space with a very strong english garden theme. It was just as inviting as I remembered! Except here were a couple of new little friends out there.
The most fascinating story for me was of a lady's head that took residence on the kitchen bench and is a wonderful example of how art can become part of our everyday lives. I'll let Sophie tell you all about her herself.
With each of these journeys through other people's homes I love that a clear intention emerges whether the person living there realises it or not. I love that and it is making me think how i colour and style my home must also have an overarching theme. Whatever out circumstances it appears that we have an innate desire to create a safe space for ourselves that show our identity and set it apart. All that's left for say is a very huge thank you to Sophie for telling me her most personal family stories and inviting me so warmly into her home.
DISCLAIMER: All photography is my own unless otherwise stated.