It is such a pleasure to visit people in their homes
To see how they have created a personal space to relax and be at peace in. Each home is special to the owners, a sanctuary for them to retreat to. I love every home for that reason, because – once they have made it their own – it is a match for those people within it. Therefore it is not very often that I walk into a house and think, ‘oh but… isn’t this my house?’ and ‘oh, no, it isn’t (because my house is still a big old mess), but I really do wish this was my house’.
Well this is exactly how I felt when I walked into the house of Jonnie Bassett, a Lewes-based photographer.
The funny thing is I had known Jonnie for a year before visiting him at home and he had never once said to me – ‘Jo, you really must come over for a cup of tea because I happen to live in your dream house’ (tut), and in fact it took a mutual friend of ours, Richie, to say, ‘have you been to Jonnie Bassett’s house? It’s such a great house’ that made me actually approach him and poke him repeatedly until he let me come over (ok not really, being the super-cool and very kind man he is, he was very happy to welcome me into his house of my dreams).
So, the date was set and I walked over to Jonnie’s home
A terraced house in central Lewes where he lives with his wife Felicity and two sons. As soon as I arrived at the front door I couldn’t help but make a mental note that this front door was exactly the door (and colour of door) that I would want if I lived in this house (you can already see where I am going with this, right?)
So I rang the beautiful original doorbell and was welcomed by both Jonnie and Felicity who walked me through the house to their kitchen at the back (as I muttered continually about how much I loved everything in sight) where we had tea and chatted about ‘The Lewes Home’ and Jonnie’s Photography business which can be seen here.
Jonnie hasn’t always been a photographer
Far from it, when I asked him about his previous careers his answer was intriguing “Oh, Lot’s of things – a double glazer, a market gardener, a roofer, Harrods Staff, a cycle courier, an office manager, a radio station programme assistant, at a record shop, working with adults with learning difficulties and as a photographer’s assistant”.
So, quite a lot of things then. However, the last job, as a photographer’s assistant is clearly where he found his passion as he now works as a brilliant photographer specialising in the photography of art and architecture.
After chatting to Jonnie and Felicity they showed me around the house which I took endless personal inspiration from.
First of all we pop into the ground floor living room. I just love the way the room somehow feels ‘real’. I wish I could explain myself a little better here… yes, the room has cool furniture and artwork but it feels like everything is a magic vintage ‘find’ from a series of outings to flea markets and antiques shops. It is all brought together so tastefully but there is nothing try-hard about the room, it just feels like home… and that bright blue paint on the bookshelf is really something else, I love it.
Upstairs we find another living room – Jonnie calls it “the grown-ups living room” Jonnie’s impressive record collection stands to one side of this cosy room and the rusty orange wall (although it does look a bit pink here) is perfect, especially next to the green glass sculpture and green lampshade. I immediately notice mathematical tiles have been used to create a hearth which is beautiful and a respectful nod to many of the buildings in and around Lewes.
There is also a beautiful office room which Jonnie has suitably made to feel peaceful and calming with traditional rich green wall paint, a vintage filing cabinet, a desk with hair-pin legs and an antique desk chair bring a knowing and studious feeling to the space.
The bathroom is another example of how Jonnie and Felicity love to embrace colour and their choice of paints is always so well considered. The black bath looks great next to the yellow wall which again contrasts next to the more traditional bathroom sink, which again contrasts next to the contemporary plywood cabinet. Jonnie clearly loves to mix-up his traditional, mid-century and modern tastes and in doing so every space feels unique and exciting.
There is a spare bedroom on this floor which has this amazing original wardrobe in it, the matte gold fabric in the top glass panes is such a nice touch and the flooring changes from floorboards to matting here which of course, is exactly the flooring that I would choose for my own bedroom.
Upstairs once again to the family bedrooms, Jonnie has chosen a different shade of yellow – closer to a mustard (one of my favourite colours), for their wardrobes which they had custom made for them. I just love the way the pale mint green walls give way to this huge piece of beautifully made furniture as well as the artwork and the original wooden beams running along the length of the room, again the room has an effortlessness about it, an eclectic mix of eras and colours that makes it extra special.
We bypass the boy’s rooms on our way back down to see Jonnie’s photography studio in his basement, along the way I can’t help but snap a couple of pieces of artwork that catch my eye and one amazing metal lamp which is unlike anything I have seen before – and after chatting to Jonnie about it I learn that this really was a magic flea-market find!
So, lastly down to Jonnie’s studio which, unlike many basements is surprisingly light and spacious. With that beautiful log burner I imagine it is also cosy down here in the winter! Jonnie shows me his photographic equipment and is eager to share some of his favourite pics from a photography book – it is lovely to see my friend in his element showing such enthusiasm for his art.
So the basement is the last room we visit in Jonnie’s house and all that is left is to ask him a few questions for The Lewes Home.
Tell us a little about your life as a photographer
I photograph art, objects and architecture, I work from home and on location, and I share looking after our boys with my wife
How would you describe your interior decor style?
We like colour and having the art of friends and the people I have photographed, and some good objects gathered over the years, hopefully its not all too tasteful!
What do you most look forward to when coming home?
I look forward to seeing everyone, finding out what we’ve all been up to
What’s your favourite room in the house?
Probably the least used room in the house – our grown-up sitting room, which has no toys but has my records, an open fire and is a really nice place to entertain
What makes Lewes special for you?
The people and the South Downs
What is your favourite place in Lewes and why?
I’ve always liked the Paddock, we spent a lot of time there when the boys were younger and we now have an allotment there.
Apart from your own home can you tell me about another house in Lewes that always catches your eye? What do you love about it?
There’s an office on St. Andrew’s Lane which is really just a box on stilts, I can imagine it making an excellent contemporary home – a bit different to ours!
It is time to leave Jonnie Basset’s lovely family home, I’ve definitely learned to just go for it with colour which Will and I talk endlessly about (and which I indulge in in my Pinterest home) but haven’t quite committed to – yet. Jonnie Bassett’s house is cool without trying to be cool, much like the man himself, and therefore, although there is so much about Jonnie and Felicity’s taste that I identify with personally, really their house is a perfect reflection of them which is always the thing I love most about visiting Lewes homes.