The acclaimed chef behind Spring at Somerset House and Marle at Heckfield Place, who won a Michelin star while at Petersham Nurseries, gives us a peak into life at her Shepherd’s Bush home
IMAGES: CAROL SACHS; BRITISH STANDARD KITCHENS
Why do you live where you live?
Home is in West London where I live with my youngest daughter, Evie. It’s a really nice sized house – not too big, not too small but just right. It has lots of natural light and feels very safe and secure; I’m always happy to open the front door. I’ve lived in Shepherd’s Bush in different houses for 30 years – it’s where my two daughters grew up and where the fabric of our lives is. I know it intimately – the shops, parks, the people and I really crave that familiarity, I find it very comforting.
What’s the first thing you did to your home when you moved in?
The house was a two-up two-down in a very dilapidated state, with no central heating, an outside loo and a very basic kitchen that was essentially a lean to haphazardly attached to the back of the house. I wanted a project and looked for a really long time to find a house that wasn’t ruined by a developer. The first thing we did was – everything, really! We built an extension, went up a floor, put in central heating and new bathrooms.
At the time, I had a very finite amount of money and so it wasn’t perfect but served its purpose. Over the years, we have done more and altered it – for example, we moved the kitchen to the front of the house which worked better for how we live and I’ve changed paint colours and built book shelves and so on as we could afford to.
What was your childhood home like?
My childhood home was in Sydney, Australia. It was a sprawling old one-storey stone house with a corrugated iron roof and a lovely garden full of bamboo, hibiscus and frangipani. I loved it!
THE KITCHEN AT SKYE’S WEST LONDON HOME. THE UNITS, FROM BRITISH STANDARD CUPBOARDS, ARE PAINTED IN HAGUE BLUE BY FARROW & BALL. THE COPPER SINK IS FROM PLAIN ENGLISH. IMAGES: BRITISH STANDARD CUPBOARDS
Describe your front door…
My front door is the colour of a ripe clementine – it’s glossy too! I wanted a happy colour both for the street and for myself when I arrived home. I also planted a magnolia tree in the front of the house when I first moved in – I always dreamt of having one in my front garden. The soil has never been quite right and it’s never grown very tall but it still produces beautiful flowers to signify the beginning of spring.
What’s on your bedside table?
There is always a selection of books that I am dipping in to – a combination of cook books, novels and biographies. Currently I have Who Really Feeds the World? by Vandana Shiva and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. I also have a notebook and pencil, night cream, a vase of flowers and a phone charger.
You have half an hour to yourself at home. How do you spend it? (no jobs allowed)
I potter in the garden. I often cook a big pot of something simple, soups or slow cooked dishes so there is something to eat when we get home from work during the week. I’ll often bake bread as I find it so incredibly relaxing or just light candles, put on a face mask and potter around in my dressing gown.
SKYE RECONFIGURED THE LAYOUT OF HER HOME, MOVING THE KITCHEN TO THE FRONT OF THE HOUSE. THE BRITISH STANDARD CUPBOARDS ARE TOPPED IN CARRARA MARBLE. IMAGES: BRITISH STANDARD KITCHENS
What’s at the bottom of your garden?
I’m not very pleased with my garden at the moment – it had a moment of glory about five years ago when I really devoted a lot of time to it but currently it’s very scruffy. I dread to think what I might find if I dug too deep!
What are some of the most memorable things which have happened in your home?
My home is my refuge and so it’s definitely not a party house but it’s full of lovely memories nonetheless. It where my kids have grown up so it’s full to the brim with precious memories.
What’s your favourite part of your house?
My kitchen – I spend all my time there. I have a table that I work at and it’s full of all the books that I love.
What do you love most about your home?
I really love my home – it has lots of natural light and feels very safe and warm. It really feels like a refuge and is full of all the books I’ve read and loved and the things I’ve collected. I often think about moving because the kids have grown up and I dream of living in a sleek and elegant design-led house that everyone would be envious of! But then I think I’d miss this house too much and would I ever be as happy somewhere else? I’m not sure I would.
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