Artist Karen Birchwood has turned her own living space into a gallery – the ideal place for prospective buyers of her paintings to visualise the artworks in a home setting.

Hints of temples and flashes of gold appear in Karen’s characteristically pared back, dreamy canvases

Hints of temples and flashes of gold appear in Karen’s characteristically pared back, dreamy canvases

Memory and a response to the experiences of a place is a key part of Karen’s paintings

Memory and a response to the experiences of a place is a key part of Karen’s paintings

Karen’s studio is a tranquil space, surrounded by garden. “It’s quite important to have the studio away from the house,” she says, “as I come away from the house and the domestic chores.”

Karen’s studio is a tranquil space, surrounded by garden. “It’s quite important to have the studio away from the house,” she says, “as I come away from the house and the domestic chores.”

Memories shift and swirl in our minds, settling for an instant and then moving on. Karen catches these moments in her work, creating dreamy memory-scapes of remembered views

Memories shift and swirl in our minds, settling for an instant and then moving on. Karen catches these moments in her work, creating dreamy memory-scapes of remembered views

At the top of the house is Karen’s office space and a workroom

At the top of the house is Karen’s office space and a workroom

We head upstairs and a pale blue light washes down, bringing an uplifting and serene feeling to the climb, as if we are heading into a coastal sky

We head upstairs and a pale blue light washes down, bringing an uplifting and serene feeling to the climb, as if we are heading into a coastal sky

Daughter Gabby has ditched the fucshia pink walls in favour of a soft mint green

Daughter Gabby has ditched the fucshia pink walls in favour of a soft mint green

All the bedrooms are decorated in quiet ocean shades

All the bedrooms are decorated in quiet ocean shades

In the master bedroom, carefully arranged collections of treasures remind Karen of her travels and of loved people

In the master bedroom, carefully arranged collections of treasures remind Karen of her travels and of loved people

The fireplace in the master bedroom

The fireplace in the master bedroom

“All these little things are just objects that I love,” she says. “I love little dolls.” The two latest are puppets brought back from a recent trip to India

“All these little things are just objects that I love,” she says

The dressing table was from her grandmother and was originally a writing desk

The dressing table was from her grandmother and was originally a writing desk

The cool grey of Karen’s son’s room is broken up with framed photographs and prints and splashes of colour from his mother’s paintings

The cool grey of Karen’s son’s room is broken up with framed photographs and prints and splashes of colour from his mother’s paintings

“A lot of my work is memory based; I’m trying to create an impression of the view, a remembrance of the light and the landscape, the way the wind moved so that the paintings take on a dreamy wistful feel.”

“A lot of my work is memory based; I’m trying to create an impression of the view, a remembrance of the light and the landscape, the way the wind moved so that the paintings take on a dreamy wistful feel.”

Karen and David have completely transformed their home and surroundings

Karen and David have completely transformed their home and surroundings

The bathroom features a soft, sea coloured scheme with shells and beach finds arranged on shelves and windowsills. The loo is partitioned away from the bath area, making it separate, but still part of the room

The loo is partitioned away from the bath area, making it separate, but still part of the room

The bathroom features a soft, sea coloured scheme with shells and beach finds arranged on shelves and windowsills. The loo is partitioned away from the bath area, making it separate, but still part of the room

The bathroom features a soft, sea coloured scheme with shells and beach finds arranged on shelves and windowsills

A corner of the bright, airy and relaxing bathroom

A corner of the bright, airy and relaxing bathroom

The smallest room downstairs is the room they call the snug

The smallest room downstairs is the room they call the snug

“The place that explains my work best is my home. My art reflects my home and my home reflects my art,” she says succinctly

“The place that explains my work best is my home. My art reflects my home and my home reflects my art,” she says succinctly

On one side of the snug sits a sixties sideboard that the couple found in a skip back in Harrow

On one side of the snug sits a sixties sideboard that the couple found in a skip back in Harrow

Karen’s new kitchen has opened up the whole house, making the space much more useable for the family. Ceramics by Kate Schuricht are mixed with other objects on a shelf above the sink

Karen’s new kitchen has opened up the whole house, making the space much more useable for the family

Glass dishes, cast from riverbeds by Max Jacquard, are on the dining table.

Glass dishes, cast from riverbeds by Max Jacquard, are on the dining table

Karen’s new kitchen has opened up the whole house, making the space much more useable for the family. Ceramics by Kate Schuricht are mixed with other objects on a shelf above the sink

Ceramics by Kate Schuricht are mixed with other objects on a shelf above the sink

“I guess the house is my main gallery,”

“I guess the house is my main gallery,”

My eye is immediately drawn to a pair of Kate Schuricht’s stunning ceramics by the wood burner

A pair of Kate Schuricht’s stunning ceramics sit by the wood burner

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Helen Barton

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