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May 20, 2024 —

Home tour: Sarah Adams

Artist Sarah Adams settled in Padstow 18 years ago, creating a light-filled space that functions as her home, studio and gallery space all rolled into one
artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - arched doorway
artist Sarah Adams in her Padstow home
Alena Walker


Elliot Sheppard
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The home of Padstow-based artist Sarah Adams is situated at the foot of a hill of pastel-painted terrace cottages on the north coast of Cornwall. Three storeys tall, the building is both Sarah’s home and her live-in workspace, comprising a large vaulted studio room and a small gallery space spanning the ground and first floors. For Sarah and her border collie, Dab, this is a dream location.

artist Sarah Adams in her Padstow home artist Sarah Adams Padstow home artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - studio space

A slow and steady renovation

“It’s a wonderful place for a landscape painter,” says Sarah. “It attracts many visitors, but however busy it gets, there are always quiet, out-of-the-way places to enjoy. A private footpath leads from my garden gate to a quiet lane and onto the cliff path, so Dab and I can reach the estuary and beaches within minutes and escape the bustle of the town.”

Sarah found the property 18 years ago after a lengthy search for the kind of premises that would suit a live/work set-up. The property was ideal, bringing enough footfall for an open-door gallery and plenty of potential for renovation.

“I’ve gutted it, basically, section by section,” says Sarah. “A new roof was the first priority, and getting the studio fit for purpose. A couple of years later, the middle section was taken back to stone walls and dirt floor, and a few years later, I knocked the back part down completely and built an extension.”

artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - central wood burner in kitchen / living area artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - framing studio artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - artists studio

A penchant for repurposing

The 80-square-metre timber framed extension is constructed in Douglas Fir by Carpenter Oak, with curved scissor trusses and glazed gables. The double-sided wood burner is bespoke, too, formed from a trawler net bobbin by Dan Harding, who makes the Hotpod stove in Cornwall. “It’s perfect for the space and pushes out heat on very little fuel, mostly just offcuts from my framing workshop,” says Sarah.

“I have a jackdaw habit, incorporating odd bits of this and that: reclaimed doors, antique door furniture, repurposed lights, up-cycled furniture, that sort of thing. I scoured reclamation yards, in person and online, for floors, doors, fittings and lighting. If you are gutting and extending an old building, it’s a great way to bring personality back into the space.”

The whole interior space is white-washed with views extending towards the Camel Estuary in a merging of the outside world with the inside in a subtle Cornish coast maritime theme. “I like space and simplicity,” she says. “But I do have quite a few pictures, so the emphasis is on white walls and natural materials. Good quality materials grow old more gracefully.”artist Sarah Adams Padstow home artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - area used as a gallery artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - bedroom artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - bedroom

Inspired by the Kettle’s Yard aesthetic

Sarah’s incorporated eBay and auction finds, including reclaimed church doors and a pair of ship foghorns that have been converted into pendant lights. “I love the pendant lights,” she says. “I found a pair of them, already converted, on eBay and then painted them white.”

Sarah cites a visit to Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge as having a lasting impression on her interior style, both consciously and unconsciously. “The pared-down combination of traditional and modernist spaces, found objects and amazing artworks in a white space, has been my ideal ever since visiting,” she says.

Early on, she began collecting beach pebbles and pink lustreware, a type of pottery with a glaze that gives an iridescent effect. Over the years, she also collected other items that were unknowingly inspired by that early visit: comb-back primitive chairs, Georgian three-ring decanters and New Hall BAT-printed porcelain. “The Kettle Yard aesthetic has stayed with me and has influenced my taste for over 40 years,” says Sarah.artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - light and airy hallway and stairs artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - garden artist Sarah Adams Padstow home - her dog in the garden

She finds such a style serene for a backdrop that spans both her home and work lives. “I find it calming. My studio is full of images and works in progress, all chatting away with one another, so having other parts of the house that are more ordered and sparser relaxes me. Sometimes clutter can cancel things out, whereas giving space to a special object or painting can allow it to sing.”


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