I was delighted when the wonderful Print Club London asked if I’d take part in their Guest Curator series as I’ve been a huge fan of their prints for years, many of which can be seen around my home. Come with me as I take them on an art tour of The Pink House, chatting all things renovations, lockdown survival (spoiler: it involves wine), playfulness vs practicality, and print preferences as we go…
It’s an Edwardian semi-detached house on top of a hill in South East London which backs onto a huge communal parkland – the main reason we bought the property three years ago; it gives us an expanse of nature (complete with noisy parakeets!) in Zone 3 London. The previous owners extended the house to create a large, bright, open-plan kitchen, and we finished the job by demolishing the old kitchen and a sorry-looking shower room to open up the house and create a large hallway with lots of storage. We also built a pink shower room extension onto the side of the house, and installed a utility room in a former storage space.
I have a playful attitude to life and try to find the fun in everything I do, including decorating my home. I guess I’d describe my style as playful, practical and full of personality…with quite a bit of pink. Honestly it’s total coincidence that all these words begin with ‘p’! I suppose my approach to interior design mirrors my approach to life. I love to find the fun wherever possible, but at the same time I’m aware that some structure and discipline is necessary too. By all means swing on the trapeze, but put your shoes away in the purpose-built pink drawer first!
I absolutely adore the curvy brass-and-ceramic vintage lamp I bought from The Old Cinema while I was living in Edinburgh. I love it so much, in fact, that when my carpenter accidentally knocked it so it smashed to pieces on the floor, I drove halfway across Scotland to have it repaired by a master ceramicist – at a price marginally higher than I’d paid for it in the first place. You can still just see the cracks, but in some respects I love it even more now that I’m part of its story. It now sits on the bookshelf in the internal window near (but not TOO near) the trapeze. This way I can see it from the family room and dining area, and as soon as I walk through the front door.
I have my eye on one of those colourful Mustard Made lockers for storing the kids’ muddy football stuff when they come in the back door after playing in our park. There are so many gorgeous colours I’m having difficulty deciding though…
I mean, I’m a massive media cliché, but I do enjoy a good champagne-fuelled girlie weekend at Babington House. Throw in a few hours of downhill mountain biking with PHH and a chance to watch my boys play – and ideally win – a football match and I’m happy.
I find the podcast How to Fail with Elizabeth Day fascinating. I just listened to the episode she recorded with Henry Holland over lockdown, where he talks about the failure of his business. I thought his upbeat attitude was incredibly inspiring.
My mum’s parents were Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria, so your Choose Love collaboration with the charity Help Refugees – with all proceeds from sales of the prints going to the charity – is particularly close to my heart. I have the Katie Killip version in my hallway, which for me comprises so many meaningful things in one piece of artwork.
Dave Buonaguidi’s prints are among my favourite PCL pieces – his ‘Yeah baby’ pink glitter print hangs in The Pink House. As a writer I appreciate the art of the word, and coming from an advertising background, like Dave, I also appreciate his use of shouty ironic slogans. I’m especially keen on his ‘Life’s Too Short To Be Beige’ print, which definitely speaks to my sensibilities.
I’m a big fan of graphic artist Rugman, too, and not just because he’s mates with Tom Hardy. I have his Rebel Rebel Bowie print on my wall – his PCL print Monroe Stars is fabulous as well.
I’ve held off making any grand holiday plans as I find it’s impossible to predict how Covid19 might affect travel over the next few months. I have just booked a half term break to The Grove with Football Escapes, and a short family break to Soho Farmhouse for the Christmas holidays, but that’s about it for now. Oh, apart from last weekend’s incredible Norfolk yoga retreat with my wonderful yoga teacher Candice Habershon. There was wild swimming and illicit drinking and everything!
A few of my favourites, both old and new, that spring to mind: Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens; The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger; The Rainbow by D.H.Lawrence; The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Certain elements of the design became clear soon after we bought this house, such as the predominantly pink, green and blue colour scheme which runs throughout. The dark blue sitting room was the first to take shape, and I knew I wanted that north-facing space to have a cosy, after-dark feel for snuggling up and watching movies by the fire. The kitchen came next, and again I knew I wanted to pull the outdoors vibe into this room, to connect it to the parkland outside the window. The more ‘out there’ elements of The Pink House – the trapeze and the climbable storage in the hallway – developed as the renovation progressed and I saw opportunities to add some serious fun!
She’s not an item, strictly speaking, but this crappy year would have been SO much worse without our gorgeous Ragdoll kitten, Coco, who came to live with us just before lockdown started and with whom we all fell completely in love the moment she arrived. I would also have been bereft without Mirabeau rosé, and the pink pergola that the Pink House Husband built in our garden over lockdown, which has become the hub of our social lives.
Don’t take it too seriously – the stuffy powers-that-be of the interiors world would have you think there are ‘rules’ that must be followed and that it’s all terribly complicated and best left to the professionals but this is rubbish. Trust your instincts and choose things you love and you won’t go wrong.