How This Illustrator Achieves a Colorful, Maximalist Home Without Looking Cluttered
Name: Hannah Broadway and Felix Hayes
Location: Eastville, Bristol
Size: 1600-ish square feet
Years Lived In: Owned for 10 years (ish)
“We are lucky that we share a similar aesthetic. I guess having been together for over 20 years can do that,” says illustrator and designer Hannah Broadway. She and her actor husband Felix live in this colorful home in Bristol with their daughter Ursula and cats Ron and Kitsune. The couple bought this plot a decade ago and have since filled it with interesting objects they’ve picked up from jumbo sales to their travels to Japan.
I love the way the couple uses colors in their home. From the bright orange fridge, to the half-tone walls, to their daughter Ursula’s room (she had asked for a “jungle with a rainbow” themed room) where they painted the floor bright green for her. When I asked about the paint colors they’d used, Hannah tells me, “Oh no! I’m awful at this. I never remember the names, and any leftovers, I use for other projects.” She continues, “I could probably tell you the CMYK references! That’s how we do it though, I have a Pantone book and a print color ref book that I use for work, and we’ll go through that and choose the color we like and then go and match that in a paint shop.”
What inspired the couple in creating this home? “I’ve also always found looking at interior design magazines really inspiring, much more than looking at more ‘illustration’ based stuff for work. I love objects and how they tell little stories. Felix and I still sit down to ‘read’ interior magazines together, a tradition that started probably more than five years ago, when someone bought me a subscription. We make a pot of coffee, put the magazine between us, and go through the whole thing slowly, chatting about what we like or don’t like and play ‘well if I lived there, I would do …’ We are basically a pair of geeks!”
The couple added an extension to the home a couple of years ago, which has transformed the way they live. They created a sun-filled space at the back of the basement, which opens into the garden. I asked if they had finished everything they had wanted to do in this house. “It’s never going to be ‘finished’ because we all grow and change and well, live …. Even though I’m quite messy, I get really hung up about grubby fingerprints on the wall or the fact that we still haven’t put a splash back in the kitchen, but it’s okay. It doesn’t really matter. It’s not a show home, it’s our home and just making it a safe, happy, inspiring space is the most important thing, really.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Colorful, Maximalist, Joyful.
Inspiration: Stuff! A bit of everything and anything really — from color combinations on food packaging, to exhibition curation to books about Bauhaus!
Favorite Element: I think it has to be our big downstairs room. We built this extension and dug out the basement two years ago, and it has transformed how we live. It’s one big space, with kitchen, dining room, and a sofa in it, and we all gravitate to its bright open space. Whenever possible, we have the back door open and potter in and out of our slightly wild garden, cook, play, and have pals over. The really special thing is that we are lucky enough to have two sitting rooms, so it means the TV isn’t the main focus, and of an evening when Ursa is in bed, we can choose whether to sit downstairs and read a book or whatever or come upstairs and snuggle down to watch some box set or other.
Biggest Challenge: To keep a balance of things looking good and not too full when your natural aesthetic is the opposite of minimalism! I definitely have magpie tendencies so I have to be careful that I am still enjoying the objects and stuff around me, and that it hasn’t become a kind of jumble sale!
What Friends Say: They mainly go “Ooohhh! This is nice!” I think it’s a bit of a surprise! From the outside, it just an average 1950s semi on a busy pebbledash street — but when you come in, it’s got a great view and lots of sky! Also, people would always assume we had kids, even before Ursula — as I think our perkiness maybe isn’t very high-brow!
Biggest Embarrassment: Oh it changes! Sometimes, it’s the state of my studio — thankfully I have a door (when we were reconfiguring our house and doing building work, there was a long time when I didn’t!) and what a blummin’ amazing door at that; Felix got it at a reclamation place, letra-set my name on it in gold, so I can feel like a 1940s private detective! Currently: I’m pretty embarrassed about our front garden, but we are starting on this and Felix has just cast a new concrete step and tiled it in our old kitchen tiles. Or maybe it’s the fact we have to have a litter tray in the house, as Ron, our beautiful fluff ball of a cat, is pretty senior and doesn’t venture out much! He has excellent timing and always ‘does one’ just when we have friends round for dinner! But he is like the Zen master of felines, so all is forgiven pretty quickly.
Proudest DIY: Well, I’m super proud and grateful to Felix for all his bits and bobs, from hanging doors, building shelves out of wine crates, making a lush stripy bench that is in our bedroom — ah, the list is endless. My projects are a bit different. I love color, so I do things like paint and hand-stitch fabric and make cushion covers. I also have painted some doors too, which I loved doing. We have two doors downstairs, one into our utility space and the other inside the little loo, and they are a bit special to me. They are my happy doors! I’m an on/off sufferer of depression and I know what it feels like to be in the deep dark grip of it and over time, I have learned to recognize the leaking shadow it can cast over my life. I try to acknowledge its presence and invite it not to visit today! Last January, I felt the dark visitor lurking, so I knew I needed to do something. So I painted a door! For me the act of painting or making or creating something is a very positive thing. Changing something feels good. Anyway, I’m two doors in on my ‘door project,’ my personal little campaign to paint and draw my way out of the grim. They have become symbols of my strength and courage in taking charge and are reminders to take fun seriously! It’s also a really good way of covering up ugly cheap doors!
Biggest Indulgence: Artwork, maybe — although we both really love it and believe that pictures and beautiful things can make your life better, so maybe it’s not an indulgence, but a necessity. Maybe our Sonos speakers and record player. We bought those as Christmas presents to each other last year. We LOVE them. The speakers are lush and have a great sound, and obviously you can just listen to anything through them and play music or podcasts from our phones, but the record player is really ace too, as it’s a chance to be a bit more mindful in your listening choice, and revel in the whole process; from selecting a record, enjoying the artwork, placing the needle — the whole thing is just delicious. Mugs and clothes are my personal biggest indulgence — but the pleasure I get from a perfect cup of coffee in a beautiful cup that just possibly coordinates with my outfit it pretty huge. Felix is a board game fanatic —I’ve been calling him a “board game investor” cause it makes me feel better about the literal hundreds we have in our house. For Ursula, it’s anything to do with cats, bats, and dragons!
Best Advice: Marry someone who will read interior design magazines with you!
Dream Sources: You can’t beat a lucky charity shop find! I think buying something when you are on holiday or are somewhere that is special is ace, as it fills your home with that feeling or memory. Felix and I went to Japan a few years ago and we bought a silly expensive metal coffee caddy, but we use it every day and it makes me think about Japan. In fact, anywhere in Japan is dream shopping for me!
- “A-Z of the little things in Life” by Hannah Broadway (me)
- I love an A-Z and I have made loads — I think I just love making work in series- so an alphabet is a good umbrella!
UPSTAIRS SITTING ROOM
DINING ROOM & SITTING ROOM
- Skogsta Dining Table by IKEA
- KOLA — Rocking chair with yellow legs from Finnish design Shop
- Vintage drawers from Bristol Wood Recycling Project (possibly our luckiest bargain at something like a tenner 9 years ago!)
- Ladderax shelves from a secondhand place in Islington ages ago but you can get them on Ebay
- HUF neon — I commissioned this as a present for Felix- I provided the artwork & Cabot Neon provided the craftsmanship
- “Let’s all be Artists and make stuff (better)” by Hannah Broadway (me)
- Abstract painting by Jessie Woodward
- “Fat Cat” by Lucie Sheridan
- “Stokes Croft” by Christophe
- “Felix” by Hannah Broadway (me) this was part of my 40th birthday present to Felix- you can commission your own!
- “Bathing baby” by skuoyenting
- “Chinese dragon” By Ursula aged 7 for Felix for Fathers Day
- “Abstract” by Matt Dosa
- “ Mono print” by Ruth Broadway
- Peg board by Block which I use as my necklace storage was a present from Felix a few years ago — I could really do with another one!
- CROW — I’m a crow fan and this came from an amazing props shop on the Tottenham Court Road — utterly mad place, but well worth a visit at Christmas. It’s just an epic grotto — you have go with a kitsch attitude and be prepared to sieve through some of the rubbish to get a gem!
- Wardrobes from IKEA (don’t think they do these exact ones any more)
- They are a pretty perfect fit around the chimney breast & it means Felix & I get to gaze at what we love while lying in bed (each other, obviously) but colors & clothes for me & board games for him!
- Tarva Bed from IKEA. This is like the cheapest wooden bed we could find- but we stained it red and I just LOVE it!
- ‘Fruit’ Shower curtain by Mouni Feddag at Society6
Thanks, Hannah & Felix!
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This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: This Illustrator’s Colorful, Maximalist Bristol Home Is Extraordinarily Joyful