I’m thrilled with any opportunity to poke around inside the homes of creatives—the way they decorate those intimate spaces, the tomes on their bookshelves, their family portraits and heirlooms, the style of furniture and the colours they paint their walls. It is fascinating to see the things they choose to surround themselves with—the things that, in the words of Marie Kondo, “spark joy.” On my travels, I have taken every opportunity to poke around in the homes of, well anyone really, but in particular the homes of creatives. Here are some of the most well known and my personal favourites.
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Jim Thompson – Bangkok, Thailand
Jim Thompson’s home turned museum in Bangkok, showcases his love of Asian art inside a traditional Thai home. The would-be-architect turned silk merchant, revived a languishing cottage industry and brought Thai silk to the pages of Vogue and the fashion world beyond. His former home and tropical garden is an oasis in the chaos of Bangkok. It consists of six teak Thai dwellings uniquely strung together to create a large home. The spacious residence has a minimal elegance in its furnishing and showcases Jim’ curated collection of largely Buddhist objets d’art from different eras in Thai history. See more about Jim Thompson’s home in this post.
Ernest Hemingway – Key West, USA
The Key West home of American writer Ernest Hemingway was a wedding gift from the family of his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, also a writer. Mr and Mrs Hemingway both contributed décor to the Spanish colonial style home. Mrs Hemingway brought her chandelier collection from Europe, and Mr Hemingway added tribal masks and hunting souvenirs from African safaris. The pair brought Spanish antiques back from trips to Mexico and cultivated a home that reflected their worldly experiences, each piece the centre of an interesting or amusing anecdote. More stories of the Hemingway and their home are just a click away.
Frida Kahlo – Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico’s most famous female artist entered and exited her life in the same azure home in Mexico City’s suburb of Coyoacán. The home built in 1904 by Frida’s father Guillermo Kahlo, was typical of colonial style homes with a central courtyard surrounded by rooms. Frida’s twice-husband, Diego Rivera, purchased the home when the Revolution and Frida’s mounting medical bills threatened Guillermo’s ownership of the property. Frida and Diego painted the home a vivid shade of cobalt, naming it La Casa Azul. They made other changes to the house including the transformation of a garage into an art studio for the increasingly bed bound Frida. The garden is filled with maguey, yuccas, jasmine and cacti, among other flora, that provided inspiration to the female artist’s work. Fellow painter, Rivera added a pre-Columbian style pyramid to the garden, to display a collection of Aztec and Toltec artifacts. The interior is painted white with highlights of acid yellow and is embellished with folk art, mosaics and souvenirs that reflect the artists’ fascination with their indigenous ancestry. For more, see this post on La Casa Azul.
Asakura Fumio – Tokyo, Japan
Fumio Asakura was unknown to me when I stumbled upon his home in the Yanaka district of Tokyo. The sculptor took up residence in the house in 1908, where he set up a studio. Over time he expanded the home and studio, directing the architecture himself. The tree-storey home has two wings, one traditional Japanese-style living space and a second Western-style studio. Throughout the Asakura Choso Museum (or Asakura Museum of Sculpture) are examples of the artist’s sculptures, even on the roof! There is a huge library and a rooftop garden which provides 360-degree views of the surrounding district. The living space contains various collections curated by Asakura ranging from pottery to calligraphy. Inner rooms of the Japanese-wing have floor to ceiling openings that look upon the courtyard garden. Unfortunately, there is no photography permitted inside the Museum, so you’ll just have to trust me and go!
Frank Lloyd Wright – Chicago, USA
One of the top things to do in Chicago is to visit the former home and studio of renowned American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. His Oak Park abode and working space is where he experimented in the early years of his career and gave birth to what is now known as the Prairie style. Tours are offered of the home and studio explaining the evolution and signatures of FLW’s architectural style and revealing interesting aspects of his personal life. Beyond the home and studio, there are also several other homes and Unity Temple in the area bearing the FLW stamp which you can enjoy from the exterior. This is a must-see for architecture enthusiasts.
Have you visited an the home of a creative in your travels? Tell us your favourites in the comments below.
Peace, love & inspiring travel,