Designer to the stars Celia Sawyer welcomes you into her Sandbanks home
16:00 05 June 2013
(C)2008 Peter Booton Photography, all rights reserved
Celia Sawyer made her name creating stylish homes for pop stars and millionaires so it is no surprise that her home in Sandbanks has an eye-catching array of interesting pieces and curiosities
Viewers of Four Rooms on Channel 4 will be familiar with the format of this tensely competitive and entertaining show, but for anyone who isn’t, let me explain. Members of the public with interesting antiques or curiosities to sell are given an opportunity to negotiate a sale with the four resident dealers, who each sit in separate rooms. Sellers may visit the dealers in any order, but once they have received an offer and left that particular dealer’s room without accepting the offer, they cannot return.
During the first and second series of the show, which began in 2010, the dealers were offered a wide-ranging and sometimes bizarre selection of items, including a Victorian hangman’s rope, an antique sex aid and Hitler’s toilet! Antiques Roadshow it isn’t.
The only female dealer in the current series, which is due to air at the end of April, is Celia Sawyer - a tall, slim and attractive 40-something mother of two who lives with her husband Nick on the Sandbanks peninsula. Celia joined Four Rooms at the start of the second series after seeing an online advertisement asking people for photographs of interesting items they would like to sell on the show. Bravely, or perhaps cheekily, she emailed a photograph of herself, and asked, “Would you like me to be one of the dealers?” She received a call the next day.
After many years as a successful property developer and interior designer, in 2007 Celia launched Cool 10 which specialises in luxury interior design at the top end of the property market and has an office in Knightsbridge. Clients include pop stars, politicians, actors and actresses, famous sporting personalities and high net-worth business people in the public eye. Although Cool 10 is the main focus of Celia’s work, this entrepreneurial lady is also involved with business investment and film development. Modestly, she describes herself as a ‘businesswoman’.
As well as creating very individual and highly desirable interiors for her clients worldwide, Celia designs bespoke furniture and sources collectable items for their homes. Being a dealer on Four Rooms is useful in this respect and her Sandbanks home contains a number of items she purchased on the show. Contractual obligations don’t allow her to say which these are, but she does reveal that three pieces of art entitled ‘Roadkill Couture’ displayed in her entrance hall came from Four Rooms.
Thanks to Celia’s well-honed design skills her Sandbanks home is very different today from the somewhat characterless 1960’s house she and Nick purchased on the harbour-side of the peninsula four years ago. I asked Celia what had attracted them to the property. “The views across the harbour are amazing. That’s what really sold the house to us. I’m always drawn to the sea. And it’s quiet here,” she adds.
Celia only had four weeks to transform the house before they moved in. “I started on the fireplace area in the living room. There was an old fake fireplace which I took out to leave just a flat wall. I thought, let’s have a feature here and do something interesting – hence the logs, the hole-in-the-wall fire and the little holes of interest and intrigue. Then I opened up some of the interior walls so we could see the harbour view through the house.”
The two main rooms on the ground floor are the living room and dining room and Celia has furnished these with an eye-catching array of interesting objects. Either side of the new fireplace are paintings by one of her favourite artists, Michael Forbes, who created the voluptuous portrait of Celia which appeared on Four Rooms and now hangs above her staircase. Large, comfy, bespoke sofas in the living room surround a glass-topped occasional table supported by two brass ram’s heads. Suspended from the ceiling is a 1960’s Perspex bubble chair which provides a perfectly relaxing way to view Europe’s largest natural harbour. Adding eye-catching interest to the dining room are two Johnny Sainsbury mirrors, an art mosaic of Clint Eastwood’s face, by Ed Chapman, and Muhammad Ali memorabilia.
“I collect items as I go around,” reveals Celia. “Also, being on the show I get offered lots of things and that’s really good because I have clients who collect as well, and I look for items for them. I like collectables that I haven’t seen before. I don’t want grandma’s teapot but I do want something interesting with a great history,” she adds. One of Celia’s favourite places to shop in Dorset is Talisman in Gillingham, a fantastic emporium of unusual and desirable antiques. This is where she bought the ram’s heads for her living room table and the Christian Maas steel cabinet in the dining room which is decorated with snakes and reptiles.
In fact nearly every piece of furniture in Celia and Nick’s fabulous home is bespoke and most were designed by Celia and then made by local craftsmen.
Although Celia and Nick also have homes in London and Barbados, where Celia is involved in property development, they spend most of their time at Sandbanks and their two children, Lili and Jack, go to school locally. When I visited her at Sandbanks she was actually in the middle of working on a property nearby. “This week I’ve got up at half-past three every morning to get some work done before going on site to crane furniture over a roof,” she explains. “I try to get everything done before school pick-up time if I’m in the area, and then I’ll carry on working in the evening. I don’t have a nanny because I want to spend as much time with my children as possible, but occasionally I have to call in help.”
An exciting new venture for Celia and Cool10 is the personalised design of Pilatus PC-12 executive aircraft interiors. The UK distributor for the award-winning and built to order Swiss manufactured aircraft is based at Bournemouth International Airport. Celia says that by using specially created fabrics for the headrests and seats, the interiors of new or pre-owned aircraft can be quickly transformed for corporate travel or personal use. “Some people like just a plain plane but I believe that we can create very personalised and stylish designs to take the wow factor even higher!”
Amazingly, for a working mother with such a hectic schedule, she still manages to find time for herself. “I go for a run every day,” she says. “And in the summer I enjoy sitting by the water, with a big, chilled glass of wine. We also have a boat and I like going out to eat. I think it’s important to burn the candle at both ends,” she adds, laughing. “After all you only live once!”
The new series of Four Rooms returns to Channel 4 in May 2013
Cool 10 Ltd. 14 Basil Street, Knightsbridge, London SW3 1AJ
Tel: 0203 402 2168 (cool10.co.uk)
Talisman. The Old Brewery, Wyke Road, Gillingham, SP8 4NW
Tel: 01747 824393 (talismanlondon.com)