With the school closures, many of us feel like our worlds have been turned upside down. Once lockdown is over, it is essential to take the kids outside again, and what better than the Upside Down House. The unique tourist attraction in Brighton, Bournemouth, Bristol, Manchester and Grays (Lakeside). Two more locations are due in 2020 in Glasgow and Dudley (Birmingham) but have been delayed with the lockdown.

The Upside Down House is a hybrid of street art and experiential entertainment, providing visitors with a zero-gravity illusion experience in a safe and family-friendly environment.

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Each house is arranged over two storeys complete with a fully furnished kitchen, bathroom, living room art and bedroom. Visitors are invited to walk on the ceiling and lose themselves going downstairs to go up and letting their imagination run riot as they capture photos with a difference! The upside down house in Brighton has become a must-see tourist attraction.

As the seasons’ change, so does the Upside Down House. An in-house interior designer, ensures visitors get the most diverse and realistic experience during the year, transforming it from a scary haunted house for Halloween to a snowy and festive abode at Christmas time, complete with inverted reindeers and colourful lights.

We caught up with CEO, Tom Dirse to find out more about this popular destination.

Upside Down House CEO Tom Dirse

Where did the idea for an Upside Down House come from?

The idea for the Upside Down House came from the sister company in Lithuania. I was approached by a current shareholder while I was working in quantity surveying about a site in Bournemouth. What can I say? I fell in love with the concept and began working on a proposal, gathering information, health & safety requirements. Learning about planning and building control, drafting site plans, all of this whilst I was still working a full-time job from 8 AM to 6 PM. For almost a year, I would come home from work and then stay up working on The Upside Down House until 3 AM to bring the project to life.

Do you have any plans to extend the business further? Can we expect to see more Upside Down Houses across the country?

We now have four houses in the UK with further sites due to be announced this year! Our goal is for every major location in the UK to have their own Upside Down House and the Interior to match the City!

How has your decision to take your future into your own hands changed your outlook on life?

It changed my outlook on life on a major scale. I think whenever you get into business, it can feel a bit risky and scary, but I think that’s where the drive comes from. I was 24 when we launched Upside Down House UK, and had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. Even with the support of the shareholders it still felt like being dropped in the middle of the ocean and barely knowing how to swim, but by the time you get yourself into safety on a near island you are a much better swimmer than you started, with every metre swum only adding to your knowledge and experience.

I’ve always been inspired by entrepreneurs and knew that I either wanted to start a business or grow one. I’ve never been one to stick to the norm, and I’ve always wanted to challenge myself and to be CEO of a company certainly does that! You are constantly learning, and it’s amazing to be a part of something that has grown so much.

Would you recommend people to do the same?

Yes, absolutely! What do you have to lose? If it fails, let it become a lesson. If you succeed, let it become a testament to your hard work. I hope that through the Upside Down House, we can show people that no matter how wacky an idea may seem if you believe in it and work hard, you can bring it to life.

What advice would you give young people wanting to make a life for themselves?

Don’t take no for an answer, and if someone doesn’t believe in your project, then don’t stop doing it. Let it become the driving force behind your idea to make it succeed.

I draw inspiration from a drive to prove people wrong and show them that whatever you put to mind, you can do. My favourite quote is: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

You are a mentor for the Starr Trust and the Prince’s trust – what are these organisations, and what do you do?

This is something that we are working on at the moment and hasn’t been confirmed, but we will let you know when it is. I’ve tried to tweak my answer a bit for you to speak about why I’m passionate about supporting young people -hope that’s ok?

I would love to become an ambassador for young people getting into business, and campaign for business studies to be more specific and direct in approaching how to set a business up rather than how to work within a business. I feel that young entrepreneurs are not taken as seriously as others, but everyone comes from different walks of life, and we experience things differently and at different stages, so that should not be a reason to hold people back.

How does it feel being the CEO of your own company at such a young age?

I absolutely love it. It is definitely so much more than a job, and a lifestyle; it’s something you think about day and night and you constantly working on (whether you realise it or not). Naturally, as with any senior role, there are a lot of responsibilities and a fair amount of pressure, but I work with a fantastic team on something that we are collectively immensely proud of.

How much does the Upside Down House cost?

Tickets cost £5 but last for 30 days after purchase.

Children under the age of 3 go free.

What are the Upside Down House opening times?

In normal operation hours, it’s open every day from 10 AM to 8 PM.

Upside Down Houses Locations

Brighton – Kings Road Arches, 42-43, Brighton BN1 2LN, UK Map

Bournemouth – NOW CLOSED. The Triangle, Bournemouth BH2 5RG, England Map

Lakeside – W Thurrock Way, Grays RM20 2ZP, UK Map

Manchester – The Orient Intu Trafford Centre Manchester M17 8AA, UK Map

Bristol – Near Cribbs Causeway, Patchway, Bristol BS34 5DG, UK Map

Upcoming locations

Glasgow – Intu Braehead Shopping Centre – King’s Inch Rd, Renfrew G51 4BN

Dudley – Intu Merry Hill Shopping centre – Brierley Hill Rd, Brierley Hill DY5 1QX

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