interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: sophie blackall

by anne

we’re so pleased today to share with you the home of sophie blackall, as it’s one of the more fantastical “sneak peeks” we’ve shown on the site. i’m sure most of you have seen her work in any number of national publications, but i was most drawn to her latest project “missed connections” where she illustrates textual missed connection posts from around the world that really drew me in (which are scheduled to become a book in 2012). originally from australia, sophie has called brooklyn home for the past 10 years. click here for more great images of her space. {thanks so much, sophie, for opening up your home to us today!}anne

A piano foot, an ‘S’ shaped twig, a deer hoof pin cushion, an old Australian football, a dolphin vertebra, an emu egg, a Brooklyn landscape and a whale.

The sting ray is a rubber one and the shadow box is filled with shells collected on beach in Australia, to remind me of home. I can’t remember why the boy in the painting is blue or why he has a first aid cup on his head, but it seemed to belong in the bathroom.

My daughter, Olive helped me choose the color of the walls in my bedroom. I didn’t know whether it should be a nun’s cell, a womb or a cave: ivory, a rich pink, or a shadowy, earthy color. The cave won, and we went with this one, called desert shadow.
The dolls have been collected over the years. Some from antique shops, some handed down to me in childhood, and one I found on the street. I like them worn and missing limbs. I can’t tell if they are much loved or neglected; they end up looking the same.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Sophie’s peek after the jump!


The mosquito net is romantic but also practical. I don’t like air conditioners so I sleep with the window open and New York mosquitos are surprisingly fierce and abundant.
The quilt I made out of 19th century bed sheets. Each square has a line from a poem or a song or a book that means something to me. I stitched them over a Summer, on the subway mostly.


The hand mirrors help brighten up the hallway but there’s no excuse for the pile of shoes.


The books on the shelves I’ve read and the ones stacked beneath the antelope are yet to be read. I can’t bring myself to get rid of books, even if I doubt I’ll read them again. I just like looking at their spines.


This is a painting I did of Proust’s bedroom. The little horns are from the 1910s from a Black Forest hunting lodge.


The milk glass hands hold a doll’s hand, a tin type photograph, the head of a finch and a Civil War bullet. [right} A deer called Sherlock and an armadillo called Ishmael on an old school desk. The babies are celluloid from France.

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  • Ruby’s Wish was my daughter favorite book when she was in first grade! so nice to see where those beautiful illustrations come from. Charming and inspiring house, thank you for sharing!

  • I love the colors and shades chosen but the baby dolls on the wall and random doll parts throughout the house is a bit creepy.

  • i am packing a little suitcase and moving in. (if only so i can read more missed connections)
    i like the doll wall

  • I love how so many others are as creeped out as I am by this sneak peek, but I do like it. I kept thinking to myself, “it’s beautiful, but it’s so unnervingly creepy!” I wonder if the mood changes when you are actually in the space.

  • Hm. I guess I don’t get it. I have enough scary in my own brain, I can’t fully appreciate having someone else’s brand squeezed in there as well. So the doll parts and mounted heads and whatnot just aren’t doing it for me.

  • The dismembered doll parts are definitely creepy… like something in a horror movie.

  • darn, i was hoping that the pile of shoes at MY house would somehow be acceptable since I saw it on here!

  • I agree with the first commenter, I find the pile of shoes highly reassuring. I really the like the bedroom, everything about it… even if the doll wall is a little intense for my sleeping-arrangement-preferences.

  • this is my favorite home i’ve ever seen. this and john derian’s home. wow.

  • As a former seller of children’s books, it’s so exciting to get a glimpse into the home of a favorite illustrator.

    This tour (and the comments) have left me giggling. I love that Miss Blackall’s fascinations focus on things just slightly “off.” Missed connections, objects slightly past their prime, books and shoes all in a jumble. Getting a peek in her home is almost like getting a peek into her brain- Love it!

  • I love the quilt! I’m happy all those doll’s have such a lovely home and are resting with kindred spirits. and they have books to read. Darkly honest, imaginative and delightful.

  • oh, not creepy at all to me:) i admire her aesthetic. nice tour! and the vintage mirror group- totally stealing that idea!

  • I agrre with the people above, kind of creepy… I would have trouble sleeping with those dolls on my bedroom wall. Apart from that, I love the colour scheme of this home, and the bedspread is wonderful!

  • Creepy is in the eye of the beholder. Bones, doll parts, things discarded and forgotten have a poetic beauty all their own. I think this place is beautiful and curious. And it’s not all white! Hooray for wall color!

  • This place is so personal, original, beautiful and just so interesting to look and look and look at…

    D*S sneak peeks are the best because of homes like this that aren’t usually shown in the shelter mags.

    So inspired by the quilt and the hand mirror collection/arrangement. THANKS for letting us see your place!

  • The bed is absolutely WONDERFUL!!!! romantic, dreamy, sweet, and full of charm and character. so perfect.

  • My favorite sneak peek by far! Love the dolls, the quilt, the stingray.

    Thanks for this inspiring interior!

  • I love that it seems so you and that you are not put off but what other people might find creepy. Love the collections, even though it’s not really my thing, you’ve really found the beauty in stuff that regularly gets discarded. Gorgeous!

  • I so DON’T love this, maybe my least favorite sneak peak.

    It feels contrived to me and I really don’t find it beautiful. I do like the architectural details of the house, but not much else.

    I do adore this website!!!

  • I am in love with the creepy doll wall! And the baby-doll parts in the big glass box. Love. The bathroom, however… it seems… dizzy? All the same, I still love looking inside of other people’s spaces!

  • Creepy didn’t even enter my head until I read the comments. I thought that all those old parts of things had found someone who appreciates them and artistically displays them and gives them a lovely and interesting space to hang out in. I find the space so inspiring and FUN!

  • 50% beautiful, 50% scary…

    and those dolls, how do you sleep at night? I would have nightmares….

  • I have always found the old and worn dolls are my favorite find at antique stores. Lucky, they are often also reasonable. Funny that I didn’t care for dolls growing up… Now they are quite peopling my studio!
    I love your house and the way you put displays together!

  • I have to make another comment. I just noticed besides dolls, and doll heads we share a number of other things that I hadnt noticed before. I have the same boar skull as you have on your book shelf, my son spotted it in Hawaii and we shipped it back to ourselves. I also have almost the same glass hands, mine are clear passed down from my grandmother. And because when I first built my studio from my barn we had spaces where birds crawled in I have some accidental bird skeletons. They are really amazing. No doubt there would be more if I looked again!
    take care!

  • so cool. one of my favorite sneak peeks of all time. thanks for featuring a home that’s so quirky and inspiring!

  • Oh, come on, this is wonderful. There there is so much tenderness here. I can only love such a personal unravelling, and finding beauty in the discarded is…beauty, too.
    I really feel a connection to another wonderful artist you featured several months ago, whose “clutter” caused a bit of a hue and cry among several commenters. The New York girl who made a poetic phantom ship from an old and deliciously decomposing wedding gown…now what was her name… If she and Sophie Blackall haven’t yet met, I think they would have so much to share! Anyway both are my absolute DS house tour favorites! Thank you!

  • Curio, Curious, Curiosities….wonder-ful post! I’m so glad to see this home up here. It is challenging and has a resonant beauty all its own. If it were music, it would be a gothic Appalachian song with lingering musical saw.

  • I love this home. It is beautiful, unique and personal. I’m also thrilled that I didn’t spot mid-century modern or IKEA anywhere.

  • I’m kind of amazed how sniffy some of the comments are.. This looks like a home; one that is lived in and loved and filled with the personality of its occupants. Personally, I like this a lot more than some of the sanitised looking mid-century modern places that seem to get gushing comments..

  • If anyone’s interested, I remembered. I was thinking of the lovely Ann Wood as a Sophie Blackall-kind of girl…

  • This is by far one of my favorite, if not my favorite sneak peeks.

    Why is everyone creeped out by dolls? I never understood this. My mother used to make porcelain dolls when I was a kid and we always had doll parts everywhere and most everyone that came over said… How creepy.

    I guess I still don’t get it. If it came from some horror film… Its just a film .

  • I just have to say, i love the design of this home. i was wondering tho, how do you hang those mirrors in the hall and the dolls? Looks pretty cool how they are hung and cannot figure out how. Thanks for sharing :)

  • With this kind of imaginarium I’m guessing you would like to see the work of Paula Rego (she’s a portuguese painter)! I like the colour, the mirrors and the pile of shoes!

  • i love it. i also love how a lot of commenters hate it. that reaction was to be expected. it makes this home all the more special.

  • Oh goodness, it was once thing taking the photos, quite another to realize people would actually be LOOKING at them. It’s funny all the “creepy” comments. You’re quite right, of course, I just don’t see it that way. My children bring friends home and give them tours of the creepier corners… When I first put the dolls on the walls my ex husband (and best friend) said quite happily, “you’ll never get a date in here”!
    But I just love things with a visible history to them, embedded with secret stories.
    Thanks for pointing out Julianna Swaney’s picture, and for the tip to look up Ann Wood!
    As for the mirrors, I use those tiny picture nails and put one on either side of the handle below the round face.
    Thanks everyone for your kind (and honest!) comments. Wish I’d dusted now…

  • Your cat could be my cat´s twin, including the little golden circle of hair on its head. We call it her thumbprint. Your house is magic.

  • Not creepy at all!!! Luv…luv…luv your decorating style!!! You are truly an inspiration! You’re my “Design Hero”!

  • Definitely not my taste–I, too, get a bit creeped out by the doll parts and animal heads (and other parts).

    But I will say that I have tremendous appreciation for anyone who takes creative liberties with their home, and truly makes it a reflection of themselves. I see too many homes that just look like re-creations of Pottery Barn catalog pages, and while they’re nice, those types of homes really bore me. This home is DEFINITELY not boring.

  • everything is so dreamy and perfect.

    the leonard cohen lyrics on your quilt made me fall head over heels.

  • I love the photo with the pile of shoes, because it shows real life in that home. Everything else is also gorgeous.

  • Sounds like some of us are not up-to-date on the trendiness of Victorian-inspired taxidermy/curio type stuff. While I’ll admit that just because it’s trendy doesn’t mean you have to like it, I personally think it’s absolutely fantastic.

  • Great quilt idea – and impressed with the time that must have gone into it!

    Who did the painting in the second photo? I love the style.

  • I find the pile of shoes really creepy and macabre. Footwear disassociated from the wearer really sends chills down my spine. I liked the bathroom though – looks squeaky clean!

  • the doll wall is creepy. i imagine waking up in the middle of the night and being really scared of that wall. lol. but i like the quilted bedding, it’s imaginative and creative :D

  • I am also a painter and love that someone else lives with vignettes as decorating. I am off to to pull out my broken but beloved dolls from childhood; time for them to “come out of the closet.” Thank you for sharing and for the inspiration.

  • Footwear “disassociated from the wearer”? Seriously? Okay, WE are so not going shoe shopping together! They are shoes, not body parts. THAT comment to me was creepier than anything in this wonderfully creative and amazing home! I love this house. I think it is fittingly mysterious and Victorian and I can imagine a slight gust of wind and a fleeting glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye while a candle flickers …. LOVE It.

  • In Scandinavia it’s normal to have animal heads on the walls. They bring a piece of the wilderness to our homes and lives. I love your home, it seems that there your soul can dance with death. In the most beautiful way imaginable.

  • that painting of proust’s bedroom is awesome. do you sell your paintings?

  • I only just came across this Sneak Peak, somehow, but I’m absolutely in love: one of my favorites I’ve seen. If your aesthetic wasn’t already overlapping with my own in so many respects, the painting of Proust’s bedroom would have sold me: the blanket’s block rather than ‘bit of yellow’ would have done Bergotte proud.

  • Something akin to a natural history museum..I think. Admittedly IT IS interesting and quite intoxicating: I wonder what she keeps in the freezer?

  • The best home ever. Why do people find mystery and the tender preservation of beautiful old things, including bones and animal parts, creepy. Makes all the rehashing of the 50’s (now there was a creepy decade–ever seen Mad Men, folks?) look even more boring and sterile than usual. Disclaimer: Someone once walked into my house and said, “I see you’re into decay.”

  • This is still my favorite sneak peak ever and I keep coming back to it to figure out the mystery. Now that I just moved into an old farmhouse with many old and creepy things (like a mouse skeleton in an ancient soda bottle) I am excited to showcase raw, uncompromising beauty such as Sophie does. I would love another sneak peak to see any updates! This is just beautiful!