I start the coal fire in the kitchen, then sift through emails and listen to messages. I like to be ahead of the game.
The next stage is cleaning, and we divide tasks among the four or five people who work at the house. I don’t like to call the people I work with “staff”. We work together to create the experience.
Before we open, I walk around to see if anything isn’t right. Presentation is everything in this house. It is set up to overwhelm you, to make you putty in our hands. A guest won’t notice if there is one candle missing or unlit, but I will. I see everything in detail in one glance.
On Monday afternoons more than 100 people come in over two hours. I’m very good at organising the flow of people in the house. Then I’ve usually got a few hours to relax and get the house ready for the evening session.
I may have a meeting with a journalist or a fashion editor. Movie stars visit the house to get into their roles, and we get visits from creative people, such as designers, who appreciate its sensory nature. Filming sometimes takes place and I love the way film crews work together. It’s like clockwork and similar to how we work together here. There is a closeness.
In the winter, it’s dark in the house by now, and we need to run around to stay warm and to make use of the light. We are open every day of the week, so it is a continuous story.
Once we open the doors we sink into a very calming experience. So many people leave the house with tears in their eyes, and that shows they have played our game and it works. That’s my only job: to give people a fantastic experience.
When our guests have left we put the “curfew on the fires”, snuff candles, and cover up some items to protect them from dust. Then we are done. I cannot wait to go home. I live a 15-minute bike ride away, which clears my mind and lets me leave the house behind.
Find out more about Dennis Severs’ House here