As Hastings launches its very first literary festival, we visit the extraordinary home of a theatrical collective where the house itself is an inspiration and performance space. Some of the most celebrated houses in the world have become such, not just because of the vibrancy of their walls, the luminosity of their windows or the verdancy of their gardens, but because of the lives lived there. The inhabitants of a building have as much, if not more impact on the atmosphere that is left behind.

The upstairs room is known as the library because of the book wallpaper

The upstairs room is known as the library because of the book wallpaper

Circus posters decorate the upstairs bedroom, where visual artist Greg Smart is currently an artist – literally – in residence

Words from Kipling's feminist short story, The Gardener, are informing an autumn show to mark the Armistice centenary

Words from Kipling's feminist short story, The Gardener, are informing an autumn show to mark the Armistice centenary

Words by Derek Walcott and a model boat collection in the bathroom are part of the recent production about the Windrush generation

Words by Derek Walcott and a model boat collection in the bathroom are part of the recent production about the Windrush generation

Books and puppets on the landing

Books and puppets on the landing

Bath-based artist Emma Joy's painting hangs over a print recreated from Soviet artist Sergey Burylin's work, Tractor

Bath-based artist Emma Joy's painting hangs over a print recreated from Soviet artist Sergey Burylin's work, Tractor

Young musician Ali Alana's grid paintings hang on the wall – inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov's synesthesia scale

Young musician Ali Alana's grid paintings hang on the wall – inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov's synesthesia scale

The living and rehearsal areas are stuffed with exploratory work

The living and rehearsal areas are stuffed with exploratory work

The kitchen has been constructed around re-purposed antique cabinets sourced in Kings Road, St Leonards

The kitchen has been constructed around re-purposed antique cabinets sourced in Kings Road, St Leonards

An arch of suspended books wittily frames the entrance to Archer Lodge

An arch of suspended books wittily frames the entrance to Archer Lodge

Javanese Wayang Golek puppets hang in the West Room

Javanese Wayang Golek puppets hang in the West Room

The water clock in the hall was made by sculptor Frank Roper

The water clock in the hall was made by sculptor Frank Roper

A work by collage artist Anna Bachene

A work by collage artist Anna Bachene

A deconstructed piano used in a recent composition

A deconstructed piano used in a recent composition

The terrace overlooks the garden in which the company have created a series of outdoor rooms used for rehearsals

The terrace overlooks the garden in which the company have created a series of outdoor rooms used for rehearsals

The garden is dominated by a weeping ash grafted onto a standard ash tree, probably planted when the house was built – and which feels like a character in its own right

The garden is dominated by a weeping ash grafted onto a standard ash tree, probably planted when the house was built – and which feels like a character in its own right

An arch echoes the entrance to the house

An arch echoes the entrance to the house

Chairs which have been rebuilt using found materials

Chairs which have been rebuilt using found materials

The East Room is in a constant state of flux. The deck chair frames on the wall are from a past production

The East Room is in a constant state of flux. The deck chair frames on the wall are from a past production

The Christmas performance, The House of Circus, is taking shape in the upstairs bedroom

The Christmas performance, The House of Circus, is taking shape in the upstairs bedroom

Left from a previous production, the white nightshirts of Great Expectations' Pip and his deceased siblings flutter at the tall landing window

Left from a previous production, the white nightshirts of Great Expectations' Pip and his deceased siblings flutter at the tall landing window

A piano accordion left over from a recent production

A piano accordion left over from a recent production

17th Century Farmhouse

Stella Hayes initially fell in love with the property's glorious garden. She has gone on to create a beautiful home.

60s Themed Seaside Holiday Home

I’m sure we’ve all thought about buying a house by the sea – perhaps after an idyllic holiday, or a bracing walk, even just a drive along the coast. On the morning we visit James Rourke’s house, as the sullen...

A Butterfly Unfurled

When Sally Harrington opens the huge front door of her Kentish weatherboard home I assume that the 1950s bungalow that once stood here was demolished to make way for the new house. “No,” she says, “it’s still in here somewhere,...