What do Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Taj Mahal, God and a bird sacred in Chinese mythology all have in common?
The reply: in various ways, they’ve inspired the creation of probably the most unusual home in Bristol, if not Britain — at the least based on its owner, Matt Bagg.
In his efforts to sell his two-bedroom penthouse maisonette in a humble street of nondescript Thirties semis, he has penned a lyrical 5,000-word essay on the property listings website Rightmove, extolling its beauty and rarity. To his surprise the essay went viral, generating huge interest on social media.
Most adverts are concise, telling prospective owners that a flat or home is ‘well-presented’, ‘spacious’, ‘light and airy’, ‘near amenities’ and so forth.
But Matt didn’t think a traditional approach would do justice to his domestic masterpiece.
Iram Ramzan visits Matt Bagg’s extraordinary Bristol flat, sampling the fundamental bathroom with a waterfall effect shower
An avantgarde bedroom boasts parquet flooring, a circular bed with inbuilt bedside tables and woven lamps
The property’s kitchen includes engineered parquet wood floors and partitions, in addition to diamond-shaped headlights and green kitchen units
He informs house-hunters that this 1,690 sq ft property — offers within the region of £800,000 — is for ‘special individuals who appreciate creative celebration, God, culture, oneness and uniqueness. Probably Bristol’s most original home’. His property is, he writes, a testament to ‘human genius, creativity and a celebration to the incredible natural materials of divine Mother Earth’.
Just in case you didn’t get the purpose, he adds that it’s ‘a splendidly imaginative piece of creative art that has passionate architecture alongside confident design and genius thought, along with practical and eco technologies. Only time here will help you appreciate all of the detail contained inside this stunning and completely unique home’.
And if you happen to are still not persuaded, he concludes that ‘that is an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy a property that might never be financially or logistically built again’.
His description of his ‘timeless home that never feels boring’ is accompanied by at least 124 images and it’s fair to say he has had a mixed response. Some people online describe his pride and joy as ‘bonkers’. One house-hunter called it ‘migraine-inducing’. One other said it was an ‘overpriced man cave’.
‘People shouldn’t judge,’ Matt, 50, tells me once I arrive for my viewing. ‘And who can describe a house higher than the one who built it? If you walk right into a constructing you are feeling the energy, you have got that gut feeling whether you prefer it or not.’
The sitting rooms comes with a diagonal ceiling, wood fireplace and rooflights, with a glass balcony from the mezzanine floor above
Bagg informs house-hunters that this 1,690 sq ft property — offers within the region of £800,000 — is for ‘special individuals who appreciate creative celebration, God, culture, oneness and uniqueness’ (Pictured: Iram Ramzan within the property’s bathroom)
The front room ceiling also features ornate wood textures, hanging chandeliers and wide rooflights, with a signature green accent color
He has high hopes for a sale at or near his asking price. Properties on this sought-after suburb of Coombe Dingle had an overall average price of £533,948 in 2021, up 21 per cent on the previous yr.
Matt, who wears a large cross around his neck because he’s ‘very spiritual’, did an engineering apprenticeship after which spent much of his life travelling, which explains the varied influences at work within the maisonette.
His very — in his opinion — des res features onyx marble, cherrywood, ipe (a timber from South American rainforests), white jade crystals and black granite, in addition to benefiting from Chinese, Cuban and Indian influences, with some art nouveau and art deco vibes thrown in.
During his travels, Matt worked on a kibbutz in Israel, where, he says, he learned the importance of sustainability. He then explored India for 18 months, which he found ‘spiritually enlightening’, and lived in China on and off for 15 years (during which time, he says, he developed an e-scooter and an e-bike) and was ‘blown away by the creativity’ of the Chinese people.
While he will not be willing to share why he’s selling up, he’s clearly heartbroken at having to achieve this — and desperate to search out a kindred spirit who will love and appreciate the work that went into his home.
The breakfast bar within the kitchen pays homage to oriental influences while being a comfy and intimate space to chill out
The corridor of the mezzanine floor looks right down to the sitting room below, and results in a clock-themed window at its end
Definitely, this can be a home that may feel overwhelming at first, but the situation is glorious. From the front room, you have got an exquisite view of rolling countryside and it’s only a stone’s throw from the 650-acre Blaise Castle estate.
The home is currently divided into two. A buyer should buy the penthouse (the highest two floors at £800,000) or Matt will consider selling the entire property, which incorporates a second flat on the bottom floor, where he’s currently living. He has designed the place in such a way that every one the rooms can easily be converted or divided to suit occupants and their needs.
‘Houses on this country don’t make sense,’ says Matt. ‘Imagine if you happen to’re a pair who haven’t got children but you wish a big space. What are you going to do with 4 bedrooms? You are getting a whole lot of square footage here. And if you have got a big family, the grandparents could have their very own space on one floor.’
Up within the penthouse there may be a ‘feature’ all over the place you look. Open the kitchen cabinets, as an illustration, and there may be a backdrop of Cuban street art. The office area has a working clock set inside a round window.
Or how in regards to the 500kg green onyx slab displayed on the wall within the dining room? Green is ‘related to intelligence, elevated brainpower and enhanced memory,’ says Matt.
All of the doors, meanwhile, have 3D carvings of cranes — the bird is venerated in Chinese folklore because the prince of all feathered creatures.
Between the drawing room and lounge is a makeshift bridge, while ornate parquet wood patterns adorn the loft space above
Matt describes the master bathroom as ‘the one considered one of its kind on the planet’, with a two metre-high, hand-carved natural rock waterfall over a grand oval bathtub that’s actually sufficiently big for 2.
There are two smaller bathrooms, considered one of which is a tribute to the Taj Mahal: the white stone mimicking the ivory marble utilized by the Seventeenth-century Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who built India’s most celebrated constructing in honour of his favourite wife, Mumtaz. Based on legend, the emperor’s plan was to construct a black mausoleum for himself opposite his late spouse’s tomb. He never got round to it — so Matt has done the job for him, a rest room of black granite and blue leopard stone to enrich his own mini-Taj across the hall.
The ceilings, floors and partitions within the lounge and open-plan kitchen/dining area are made out of ipe, ‘the Rolls-Royce of all wood,’ says Matt, due to its durability.
And above the lounge is the property’s ‘showstopper’ balcony — within the form of a bridge, celebrating the achievements of the nice Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who designed Bristol’s most famous structure, the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Matt’s labour of affection took six years in all and, he claims, about £1 million, after he had snapped up the ‘derelict mess’ of a house for just over £300,000 in 2012. And now he has to offer all of it up — for quite a bit less money than he poured into it.
‘I’d be pleased to not sell. But I actually have to,’ he says. ‘I want the cash.’
Within the meantime, he has also listed it on the reservations site Booking.com. Guests can expect to pay nearly £600 an evening.
As I take my leave, Matt tells me that Shah Jahan’s vision of affection is ‘missing in most of today’s cold and meaningless architecture’ — unlike his penthouse.
‘It’s made for a singular person,’ he insists. ‘For somebody who will appreciate what it’s, culturally.’
And maybe there may be someone on the market who’s as quirky as Matt, and can think so, too.