The Sistine council house: Retired decorator who transformed his home into a renaissance palace finally completes his project after running out of room on his walls – 18 years later!

  • Robert Burns, 74, from Brighton, began painting his council house in 2003 after moving in with his wife 
  • He spent more than a decade recreating the Sistine Chapel and has spent lockdown completing portraits
  • After 18 years, the retired decorator has finally run out of room for his renaissance style paintings
  • However, he says he intends to stay in the house and continue painting portraits despite running out of room 

A retired decorator who transformed his three-bed council house into a renaissance palace inspired by the Sistine Chapel has finally completed his project after running out of room on his walls.

Robert Burns, 74, from Brighton, Sussex, began painting his council house in 2003 after moving into the ‘bland’ three-bed terraced house with his wife.

Robert has spent more than a decade painting his home after taking inspiration from the famous chapel located in the Vatican City.

He has recreated art from some of the world’s most famous artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Sandro Botticelli.

Robert Burns who transformed his three-bed council house into a renaissance palace inspired by the Sistine Chapel has finally completed his project after running out of room on his walls

Every inch of the walls and ceilings is covered with elaborate frescoes inspired by 15th century works by famous Italian painters, complete with gilt-edged nativity scenes and portraits of the Virgin Mary

Robert has spent more than a decade painting his home after taking inspiration from the famous chapel located in the Vatican City

He began painting his Brighton council house in 2003 after moving into the ‘bland’ three-bed terraced house with his wife Linda

Robert said: ‘We won’t ever move out of this home and the next people that do eventually move in can choose to paint over it all if they wish to’

After spending 18 years painting every wall, ceiling and hallway in his house, the retired decorator has finally run out of room for his renaissance style paintings.

Every inch of the walls and ceilings is covered with elaborate frescoes inspired by 15th century works by famous Italian painters, complete with gilt-edged nativity scenes and portraits of the Virgin Mary. 

Robert said: ‘When I moved into the home in 2003, I felt the home was very bland and simple throughout.

‘I used to visit car boot sales in Lewes and I found a book that had pictures of the Sistine Chapel and remember thinking, what an amazing place that is.

‘I started buying even more books from charity shops and I built up a collection of beautiful books that I took inspiration from.

‘You can decorate council houses in whatever way you want and this is what I chose to do to make it my own.

‘I only truly discovered my talent for painting when I began redecorating the house and I do wish I had discovered it when I was younger as life as an artist would have been great fun.

‘I have no more space so I’ve moved onto painting canvases and I just stack them up in the spare room.’

Robert said his labour of love was prompted by the boredom of painting other people’s houses in neutral, pastel colours. 

He initially moved into his council home after going through a divorce.

The Sistine Chapel recreation took him three times as long to complete as it took painter Michelangelo to complete his masterpiece in Rome.

What made Robert’s feat more spectacular was that the talented artist had never even been to Italy – or been taught how to paint – before embarking on the project, choosing instead to recreate the paintings from coffee-table art books.

Robert Burns with his painting of England manager Gareth Southgate which he has no space to hang in his home as he has finally filled it up

Robert has never even been to Italy – or been taught how to paint – before embarking on his project, choosing instead to recreate the paintings from coffee-table art books

Robert Burns, 74, from Brighton, Sussex, in the studio of his council home where he creates all his masterpieces

The house, which he shares with his wife Linda is covered in patterns and paintings from the famous Renaissance period

Their three bedrooms, hallway, kitchen, dining room and living room have now all been transformed and look like something you’d see in the Vatican

Robert started the ambitious task of finishing his home after buying a Renaissance book for £2 at a car boot sale in Lewes in 2003, and spent less than £500 on acrylic paint over the 18-year period..

The house, which he shares with his wife Linda is covered in patterns and paintings from the famous Renaissance period.

Their three bedrooms, hallway, kitchen, dining room and living room have now all been transformed and look like something you’d see in the Vatican.

The father-of-three had previously painted comedian Russell Brand as Jesus, former footballer Wayne Rooney in prayer and football manager Jose Mourinho as Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi.

Robert retired as a painter and decorator in 2010, which allowed him to spend more time working on his masterpiece. 

He has vowed to stay in the home and continue painting renaissance style canvases despite running out of room.

Robert has also been dusting his entire home during the lockdown to keep everything clean, including all the frames, chandeliers and ceilings

He has been painting so much during lockdown that he has finally run out of room to display his paintings of celebrities

Robert in the hall way of his renaissance council house. He retired as a painter and decorator in 2010, which allowed him to spend more time working on his masterpiece

Robert has vowed to stay in the home and continue painting renaissance style canvases despite running out of room and says he and his wife won’t ever move out 

The father-of-three had previously painted comedian Russell Brand as Jesus, former footballer Wayne Rooney in prayer and football manager Jose Mourinho as Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi

He added: ‘I’ve began painting celebrities in renaissance style; my most recent has been Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.

‘During the first lockdown, I also painted Boris Johnson and did a few Sandro Botticelli inspired paintings.

‘We won’t ever move out of this home and the next people that do eventually move in can choose to paint over it all if they wish to.’

In 2007, Robert was contacted by a Brighton millionaire to redecorate the ballroom ceiling of his luxury mansion outside Horsham – which took three months to complete.

Italian artist Michelangelo famously painted the world-renowned Sistine Chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512 and it has attracted visitors from around the world.  

THE SISTINE CHAPEL: THE TIMELESS WORK OF RENAISSANCE GREAT  MICHELANGELO

The Sistine Chapel is in the Apostolic Palace, in the Vatican. Italian painter Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling, which he completed between 1508 and 1512. 

He was originally commissioned to paint 12 apostles but demanded a free rein in the design for the scheme. 

The completed ceiling features a series of 9 paintings showing God’s Creation of the World, God’s Relationship with Mankind, and Mankind’s Fall from God’s Grace

Michelangelo returned between 1535 and 1541 to paint The Last Judgement on the wall behind the altar, and his works have drawn thousands of visitors to the chapel. 

Around six million visitors flock to see the impressive artwork of the Sistine Chapel every year, and numbers of guests are now limited 

The side walls of the chapel are divided into three main tiers. 

Centrally there are two paintings, The Life of Moses and The Life of Christ. They were commissioned in 1480 by Pope Sixtus IV and executed by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Cosimo Roselli and their workshops. 

The upper tier is also divided into two and features The Gallery of Popes and Lives. 

In 1515, Raphael was commissioned to design a series of ten tapestries to hang around the lower tier of the wall to depict the life of St Peter and St Paul. 

The works took four years to complete and were looted during the Sack of Rome in 1527. 

In the late 20th century a second set was assembled from other similar copies that had been produced at the time and hung in the chapel from 1983. 

Earlier this year it was revealed that the number of visitors to the Sistine Chapel will be restricted to 6 million a year to protect the delicate frescos. 

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