Having fallen into the hotel business by accident rather than design, Justin and Charlotte Salisbury now run one of the UK’s coolest boutique hotel groups. Charlotte speaks to Jessica Jonzen about how they brought the Artist Residence touch to their own 1950s home
THE GRAND SUITE AT ARTIST RESIDENCE LONDON IS ONE OF THE MOST INSTAGRAMMED HOTEL ROOMS IN LONDON. IMAGE: ARTIST RESIDENCE
Anyone who’s stayed at one of the gorgeously rustic Artist Residence hotels might expect the owners to live in a similarly beautiful and historical building. But while Justin and Charlotte Salisbury have made their name by creating homely and characterful hotels which combine vintage and upcycled furniture with modern art, their own home is a 1950’s terraced house in west London.
“For the hotels, we’ve been super lucky to work with some incredible buildings with amazing original features, so we’re usually ‘un-decorating’ and uncovering original brick, cornicing or floorboards,” says Charlotte. “We want our places to feel comfortable and full of soul, so having a bit of a backstory or the feeling of being ‘lived in’ helps to evoke that feeling. For our own home, we didn’t have many of these to work with and so we’ve had to get creative to add character in different ways.”
The white PVC conservatory which had been added by the previous owner was completely out of keeping with the couple’s usual rustic style but rather than rip it down, they built a reclaimed wood cladding frame to cover it and make it more ‘them.’ “We’ve also replaced doors with old salvaged sliding barn doors, and, of course, we always use art and neon lighting to add a sense of fun and character.”
CHARLOTTE AND JUSTIN TRANSFORMED THEIR 1950’S TERRACED HOME BY COVERING THE PVC FRAME OF THE CONSERVATORY WITH RECLAIMED WOOD, AND BY ADDING ECLECTIC ART AND VINTAGE FURNITURE. IMAGES: PAUL MASSEY
Another misconception about the Salisbury’s could be that as the couple behind some of the UK’s most Instagrammed hotel bedrooms, they must be seasoned pros in the industry. The Grand Suite in the London outpost of Artist Residence has become one of the most recognisable rooms on the internet, with its wrought iron bed, bottle green sofa and exposed brickwork inspiring both frenzied bookings and myriad copycat interiors. Surely it takes people with decades of experience to come up with that sort of magic formula?
The truth couldn’t be more different. In 2008, Justin and Charlotte were 20-year-old students at Leeds University when Justin’s mother was badly injured in a traffic accident and was left in a coma. Justin dropped out of his accountancy degree to take over the running of the Brighton seafront guesthouse his mother owned. He didn’t have any experience or money, only the conviction that he needed to help.
Realising it urgently needed a refresh, he had the ingenious idea to place an advert on Gumtree asking local artists to decorate the bedrooms in exchange for board. Artist Residence was born, Justin’s mother recovered, and once Charlotte completed her History of Art degree, she joined Justin and the business.
LEFT: THE SALISBURY’S KITCHEN REFLECTS THEIR LOVE OF COLOUR; MIDDLE: CHARLOTTE AND JUSTIN OUTSIDE THEIR HOME WITH LABRADOODLE BOB BOB; ORIGINAL ART BRINGS PERSONALITY TO THEIR DINING AREA. IMAGES: PAUL MASSEY
Hotels in Penzance, London and Oxfordshire have followed, all championing art, unique vintage furniture and great food. The couple are due to open their latest hotel in a converted boot factory and Georgian townhouse in Bristol in February 2020 – with 28 rooms, a restaurant, bar and evet space, it’s their most ambitious project yet.
“Because we accidentally stumbled into hospitality, we probably naturally do things a little differently to bigger hotel chains,” she says. “Art is the heartbeat of our brand, and the design process always comes out of combining the building’s – and surrounding area’s – history and collaborating with some of our favourite local and national artists.”
What do they look for when it comes to art? “We choose art with one simple goal – to make people feel good. That might be through something funny, colourful, nostalgic, or something that makes you stop for a double take. We want our walls to be a talking point for our guests, something to make them smile and to make their experience with us more memorable. Hopefully, this helps us stand out with a more personable, homely feel to our places. We like to design with an element of the unusual to create little moments of surprise for our guests through art, signage, and reclaimed furnishings.”
TOP: THE BATHROOM IN THE BIGGER HOUSE SEA VIEW ROOM AT ARTIST RESIDENCE BRIGHTON; BOTTOM LEFT: STABLE BEDROOM AND RIGHT: FARMHOUSE SUITE AT ARTIST RESIDENCE OXFORDSHIRE. IMAGES: ARTIST RESIDENCE
Art also takes centre stage at the home they share with their three-year-old son, Blake, and Labradoodle, Bob Bob, and fills the house with character and a sense of fun. “I love the Connor Brothers’ print in our living and dining room – it’s huge and is very personal to us,” says Charlotte. “Firstly, we are huge fans of the Connor Brothers, who we have known for quite a few years, the profits went to CALM which is a charity close to our hearts, and it has a train and train-tracks, which Blake loves!”
Charlotte’s other favourites include the fox and rabbit prints above the sofa by Dave White, the Tommy Clarke (“it just makes me feel so happy when I look at it”), the Pure Evil in their bedroom of Audrey Hepburn with diamond dust Austin Power-style flowers, and a piece from Stephen Anthony Davids – “it looks like our cat, Oscar!”
The location of the house was the main appeal. “It’s right by the office, and a stone’s throw away from Design Centre Chelsea and the auction houses. Lots Road Auctions is one of our favourite haunts and it’s rare we don’t get tempted along the way to add the odd eclectic piece to the house,” says Charlotte.
THE SLIDING STABLE DOOR IN THE LOOKOUT AT ARTIST RESIDENCE PENZANCE IS A DESIGN SIGNATURE OF THE SALISBURY’S AND FEATURES IN THEIR OWN HOME. IMAGE: ARTIST RESIDENCE
One of her favourite pieces of furniture in the house is the deep red mohair sofa in the conservatory which was originally in the Club Room of their London hotel. “When we started getting busier there we were running out of tables for guests so the sofa ended up in our house,” says Charlotte. “We found the carcass in The French House in Parsons Green and immediately fell in love with its really cool retro curved shape and very deep seats. The red mohair upholstery gives it this really sumptuous and luxurious look and feel.”
When their career is based on creating characterful and welcoming homes from home for their guests, how do they feel about their own house? “Home is very much the space where we get to spend quality time together and play with Blake – he’s basically transformed the house into his own personal train track,” Charlotte laughs.
And while Charlotte and Justin’s hotels are full of original features and character, their mid-century home also bears their signature – one of warmth, comfort and fun. “As we travel so much, we have really learnt to appreciate home comforts. It’s kind of like our private sanctuary where we can really relax and have family time.” Character doesn’t simply come from the four walls, however beautiful they might be, but from the people who live within them.
Discover more at artistresidence.co.uk
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