Candles flicker against the darkest grey walls, chains of ivy are draped from exposed whitewashed brick and a handcrafted bird’s nest decoration is suspended from the ceiling. Stepping into artist Jude Wisdom’s home is a little like discovering another, far more magical world – the atmosphere more woodland idyll than Victorian terrace.


What helps make the home so unique is Jude’s preference for living – as much as possible – without natural light. For someone so warm, funny and self-effacing, this love of the dark is perhaps rather unexpected. ‘I must be one of the five per cent of the population who seek out dark and cosy places,’ she laughs.

‘One of my friends jokes that we’re troglodytes, but that’s how we like it – my husband, Luther, is happy as long as he’s warm, and our three children don’t know any different. It sounds bonkers but living with the shutters closed means that I can imagine I’m anywhere in the world. At the moment I like to fantasise that we’re living above a cafe in Florence!’

Jude, Luther and their son Jack moved to the Victorian house over two decades ago. Luther had visited it a couple of years before it came up for sale while buying a homeopathic remedy for Jude (who was pregnant with their daughter, Daisy) from the lady who lived there at the time.

‘He’s not normally one to pick up on the atmosphere of a place but he came home saying what a lovely feel it had. When it came on the market we managed to pull some pennies together to buy it because, although it isn’t particularly beautiful, it has a good aura. Now I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s home.’

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Since moving in, Jude and Luther’s work on the house has been minimal. Although their structural survey told them that the kitchen was falling down, they decided instead to live with the dishevelled look and it’s still standing today. Brick walls have been exposed here and there, the downstairs was opened up by removing a wall, shutters were fitted and walls painted in a soft palette – with subtle murals hinting at the owner’s artistic talent.

Jude describes her style with a chuckle: ‘it’s Amish gone rogue!’ There’s an emphasis on natural materials, furniture with excellent patina and everywhere you look there’s a curious item that begs questions. ‘I wouldn’t be happy living somewhere swanky or grandiose. Bling makes me feel slightly ill – I feel uncomfortable with it,’ she says. When it comes to shopping for homewares, she keeps her eyes peeled for items that are ‘quiet’ and fit her favoured muted colour palette.

‘I find reclamation yards and many flea markets quite overwhelming. I much prefer to look at an edited selection of things. I tend to buy pieces on our travels to Marrakesh and Italy and from my friend Dawn’s stall, The Curious Flea, at the Saturday flea market on Walcot Street, Bath. We go there every week with our badly behaved dog and I can guarantee that Dawn will have something that I love. Most of our homewares have been bought from her over the years.’

Jude’s focused eye means that, while pieces span the centuries and continents, nothing jars. Her home is a lesson in creating an individual yet cohesive look. ‘Visually, I could go off on one. I can completely see that temptation but I think that, as you get older, you realise what your limitations are and what works for you.’ What also sets the interior apart is the mostly unframed artwork that is casually pinned to the walls and wedged into mirror frames.

Aside from botanical prints pulled from vintage books, most of the art was created by Jude, who works in a naïve style and favours folklore subjects – lions, boats and trees crop up a lot. ‘Even though there are so many artworks that I see and really like, I tend not to display them as my brain can’t settle. I find it too visually disturbing. In a way, leaves, twigs and branches from the garden are more calming than actual art to me – which is why I bring them inside,’ she says.


When the days are at their darkest, Jude’s home comes alive. She admits that she doesn’t go all out at Christmas but instead dresses the house how she would for a party. ‘I’m basically a Victorian trapped in a modern woman’s body – I like to gather ivy and berries and deck the halls with a load of greenery and candles. We try to replicate the seasons, which is what they did in Victorian times. I really like that aesthetic,’ she says. ‘The more greenery you have in the house, the better.’