For fashion stylist and designer Sadie Kohler, a home should be practical as well as stylish, and her three-storey Victorian townhouse in Brighton is testament to this philosophy. From the old French bakery counter that serves as a kitchen worktop as well as storage, to the elegant armoire in the bedroom (a lucky street find), everything is attractive and useful and, where possible, serves a dual purpose.


The overall effect is one of relaxed family living and, with four children aged from seven to 18, ‘the house is certainly lived in’, she laughs, drawing attention to the football boots and skateboard abandoned in the hallway. ‘I never wanted a show home.’ Sadie and her husband Alex stumbled upon their house during a family day trip to the coast 13 years ago. ‘I fell in love with Brighton from that first visit,’ she recalls. ‘It was close enough to London for my husband’s commute, and I adored all of the quirky shops along The Lanes.’

They were smitten with the house too, despite the fact that it needed renovating. However, Sadie was keen to stay true to the existing period details. ‘We unblocked a Victorian fireplace in the living room and chose to repair, rather than replace, the sash windows,’ she says. They also managed to restore many other original features, including the banisters and cornices.

You might also like a victorian property with vibrant vintage decór

‘When we moved in I painted everything white,’ she explains. ‘But gradually I redecorated using more dramatic colours.’ Today, the house is filled with the dark, cocooning shades of grey and blue that have become something of her signature style. And such is Sadie’s passion for home makeovers, she has recently set up a decorating business with a friend. ‘We’re an all-female painting and decorating crew,’ she smiles.

More like this

And it’s not only wall colours that are subject to transformation. ‘I’m always painting furniture one colour and then going over it with another when I want a change!’ she laughs. The farmhouse-style dining table made by Alex’s father – a keen amateur carpenter – has been newly decorated with splendid metallic legs, and the antique shutters in the master bedroom are now adorned with slate-grey paint to match the walls.

‘The shutters were left on the pavement by one of my neighbours, with a note asking for someone to take them,’ explains Sadie. These ‘Street Treats’, as she likes to call them, came from another Victorian house, so they fitted her windows almost perfectly. The most precious pieces in Sadie’s home are those sourced from her extensive travels to Spain, Morocco and South America. Shelves are laden with handmade pottery and glass from Europe and South America, and exotic Moroccan Berber rugs bring warmth to the exposed wooden flooring.

You might also like a stylist's Victorian home filled with heirlooms

‘I’ve never shipped anything back; it always comes home in my hand luggage,’ she says. The patterned tiles on her kitchen floor are also a homage to her passion for Mediterranean design. ‘They have a Moorish feel, which I love,’ she says. When she’s not travelling, the wealth of Brighton’s vintage shops and the odd visit to Ardingly antiques fair feed Sadie’s appetite for antiques hunting.

‘I rarely go out looking for anything in particular but, when I spot something, I try to think of fun ways I can incorporate it into my home,’ she explains. Sadie has eclectic taste and her home is proof that antiques from any era can happily sit side by side: from an 18th-century Venetian mirror and a vintage armoire in the bedroom, to her ever-expanding collection of 1970s rattan.


For Sadie in particular, this home is a place of immense sentimental importance: ‘My youngest children were born here,’ she explains. ‘I’m very emotionally attached to our home and everything about it works for us as a family – it has a good energy – nothing is too precious.’