Front door and window on cottage

Sarah Beeny

In Round the Houses the property developer and broadcaster Sarah Beeny visits well known people in their homes.

In a series of podcasts Sarah Beeny chats to various celebrities about their lives, where they lived before and where they live now. 

It is a series that appeals to our enduring fascination with celebrity homes. An inside view of somewhere we would never be able to access on our own.

Sarah Beeny, as we know from TV, is very personable and engaging; she encourages people to talk. 

 And they want to talk.

This is after all, a podcast is all about things that matter to them; their families, their homes, their lives.

Our homes are a reflection of  who we are; based on our memories, experiences and significant times in our lives. 

Sarah Beeny starts by asking people to tell us about the places where they grew up, their family and how they started out in their career.

It is a simple way of accounting for who they are now, based on where they once lived – and with whom.

There are the good times and the bad times: ‘70’s décor, wild, wild parties, mental health issues, drug addiction and all.

Each guest discusses their first home and their current home as a continuum of their lives, through different lifestages.

These are celebrities that we have (mostly) heard of: Joe Sugg, Jo Wood, June Sarpong, Julian Clary, Tim Lovejoy, Lynn Bowles and Pearl Lowe.

We think we know them.

But not the inner sanctum that is their home.

How do they live?

Where do they live?

Does it fit with how we imagine they would live?

In a podcast you don’t get any visual information. This means you have to rely more on your imagination.

And so automatically, you draw on your own experience of spaces and places. That is: homes we know from real life, from TV, film and magazines.

In your minds eye you try to ‘picture’ their home environment based on what you know – or think you know – of the individual.

How big is it?

Is it a space that is grand/informal/pretentious/flamboyant or homely?

What colours do they like?

Do they own books.. paintings… pets?

Each of these podcasts is a quirky little vignette.

In each story the guests are very open about their home, their style and possessions and how this all fits with their lives and career – past and present.

The premise of the podcast is that we discover something a little bit more about this person based on where/how they live.

Prompted by Sarah Beeny, they share where/why they bought individual pieces. They frame the art/design choices they have made and how they use the space. But also, where they spend most of their time.

It is revelatory when someone is open to talk about their lives; to share something that only friends and family would ever know

When someone lets others into their homes, to share their private space it is significant.

Someone may be in the public eye, but behind closed doors their lives are their own.  

Even in a world where celebrities ‘Instagram’ every waking minute of their day, there are still some aspects that only people close to them will ever see. 

Are celebrities any different from anyone else?

Yes? No?

They are not necessarily more interesting people than the rest of us.

But, because of their careers we ‘think’ we know them.

They are ‘part’ of our everyday lives – on TV, film, on radio. They are a peripheral part of our lived experience.

But is it all just ‘a persona’.

Sarah Beeny understands that homes are for living in, and that lives are lived in them.

She doesn’t judge the space, or the décor.

And, unlike Grand Designs Kevin Mc Cloud, she doesn’t make big speeches.

She responds to the guests as she finds them and wholly respects this is their home, and that she is their guest.

There is an intimacy with a podcast that you don’t get from TV.

It is a more informal medium than a TV format.

The conversation flows and at 30-40 minutes each, is broken up with jazzy riffs played by Sarah Beeny’s children. This adds to the overall sense that we are simply listening to two people chatting rather than a ‘big glossy production’.

Round The Houses is charming, informative, revealing – and free to download.

What’s not to like? 

Available from i-Tunes: Round The Houses With Sarah Beeny 

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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