Period Living, April 2014
Another man’s treasure
Artist Sassy Luke has created an inspiring space by the sea by breathing new life into things other people have left behind.
There are two things that strike you when you walk into Sassy Luke’s seafront apartment. The first is the view. The full height windows that line the living room and master bedroom are filled with the calming sight of the sea. In complete contrast, the second is what Sassy calls her ‘treasure.’ Your eyes flit from butterfly to bauble, from cloche to cushion, from fedora to frame, never quite wanting to settle. To call it visually stimulating would be an understatement.
Having shipped everything she owned out to Spain and then, when things didn’t work out, having moved back with nothing but her two-year old son under one arm and a bag of clothes under the other, Sassy swore she’d never attach herself to material possessions again. ‘It was the big head on my mantelpiece that broke my resolve,’ she says. ‘I looked at it every time I walked past the little junk shop it was in, and I thought, “I could live with that.” That one piece started the whole collection off, and my magpie instincts took over again.’
Since then, she’s gradually built a collection of family pieces and things she’s found in antique shops, charity shops, junk shops and car boot sales. But it’s not just shops Sassy scours for the things that make her home unique. ‘I often see something beautiful, if broken, by the side of the road, and just have to rescue it – I can’t let the rubbish men crush it,’ she says. ‘To this day I still get a rush of excitement whenever I see potential in something that someone else has thrown away.’
Luckily, Sassy was also able to see the potential in the flat where she now lives when she first viewed it in August 2010, despite the green, blue, brown and purple interior. ‘The first thing I noticed when I walked into the flat was the view. That and the height of the ceilings,’ she says. ‘The colours were quite overwhelming, but I could immediately see myself here – the view and the living room just caught my imagination. My daughters came to see it later and were thrilled at the prospect of walking barefoot in their swimming costumes straight over to the beach.’
With her eclectic taste in furnishings and vast array of accessories, Sassy knew she’d have to get the flat back to a neutral colour palette. ‘I thought it was better to have muted colours on the walls, so I went for whites and greys,’ she says. ‘I painted the whole thing within a month or two. I just piled all my stuff up in the middle of each room and did it myself. We had to camp out a bit, but it was worth it.’
Once the flat was redecorated and its light airy nature restored, Sassy could unpack. ‘I really enjoyed putting out all my little trinkets and being reminded of the memories that are associated with each one. It was a very physical process. I put things in place and moved them around until I was happy. Once they were all out, then it felt like home,’ she says. ‘I love everything in this house. It’s far more important to me that it’s beautiful than it’s comfortable, which a lot of people don’t understand’, she laughs.
The living room, with its high ceilings and sea views is at once calming and inspiring and is where Sassy spends most of her time. ‘I draw at my dining table so I’m surrounded by my beautiful objects, but I can rest my eyes on the sea – I can look out there and dream. I work on the floor if I’m doing a big painting. Growing up in Cornwall, my Mum would throw wallpaper down on the kitchen floor and all the kids would draw. My girls have grown up in the same way – we’ve always got down on the floor to draw together, so it’s very natural for me.’
A large internal window connects a galley kitchen to the living room and that view. Here Sassy chose dark grey walls to contrast with the white fitted kitchen, a collection of white accessories and a set of copper pans she picked up at a charity shop ‘for a song.’
The master bedroom is also full of recycled, restored and repurposed furniture. ‘I think the first thing I ever rescued was my bed. I was throwing some stuff away at the tip and I saw it there. There was an absolute rush of excitement and I thought, “I must have that”. It didn’t even cross my mind that it didn’t have slats – I just thought it was beautiful.’ This room doubles up as Sassy’s office. ‘I don’t like machinery to look at, I much prefer classical and organic shapes, so my computer is hidden away in my bedroom,’ she says. ‘Luckily, I can separate work from rest, so my bedroom is still a relaxing space. You can hear the sea dragging the pebbles in and out when you’re going off to sleep. It’s very calming. I am lucky.’
Sassy’s two daughters share the second bedroom, which overlooks what used to be a Victorian terraced garden behind the building. It faces North, so Sassy chose a regal, yet cosy red paint to create warmth. The walls are decorated with empty frames, and the girls’ nicknames, Mouse and Baby, hang above their beds. ‘They used to be embarrassed by my quirkiness. It took all their friends to say, “Your Mum is so cool!” for them to appreciate it. Now they invite people over to show off my little collections,’ she says.
‘I love beautiful things – well, what I consider to be beautiful. Everything is broken, or old, but it’s pleasing to my eye. You can’t be too precious about things,’ says Sassy. ‘I’ll remember the day I found something, or the day that something got broken, and I can look back and think. “I had a really nice time that day”, so they all hold happy memories for me.’
All copy is reproduced here as it was supplied by Katie Treggiden to the client or publication.