Luxury accessories designer, author and mother-of-five Anya Hindmarch CBE, is one of the country’s most renowned entrepreneurs and advocates of British design and arts. She opens up about life in her Westminster townhouse, the stories it tells of her family and the key to a happy home
ANYA HINDMARCH. IMAGE: MARLOES HAARMANS
Where do you live and why?
I live in Westminster, quite near the river. I like being there because it’s incredibly central; you can walk nearly everywhere and I love being near the water. I do a walk every morning (or try to!) and cross over the river. I love it, it always gives me a fresh perspective.
How would you describe your home?
My home is a London Georgian townhouse. It is quite tall and has lovely proportions. I love the street we are on; there is a pub and a shop which gives us a real sense of community.
What was the first thing you did to your home when you moved in?
Good question! I was keen to keep the original features of the house while making it fit for the way we live today, so I quickly stripped out anything that wasn’t true to the bones of the house. That meant we could see it again and could then start to pick out the things we wanted to put into it. I love the original fixtures and architectural details and then being able to bring in special bits of art and furniture.
If the objects in your home could talk, which would have the best stories to tell?
Our kitchen table is probably the piece of furniture that has most history in our home and listens to every conversation. That’s everything from new-born babies perched on it, to children being told off for behaving badly and everything in between. It is the heart of our family life and is a bit like the rock of our family. We also have a wall in our kitchen that is stripped of paint and raw to the plaster, which we started signing and doodling on. It has become a bit of an autograph wall or visitors’ book which people sign when they come round. I almost don’t notice it anymore, but it is very much part of the kitchen and holds lovely memories.
Which part of your home makes you happiest?
The kitchen is the heart of the home where we hang out most of the time. There is a small garden at the back, like a room without a roof, where sometimes we make pizzas and sit around on a warm evening. It’s one of my happiest places… alongside my bed. Sleep is so important but I don’t get enough time to spend in my bed!
What’s on your bedside table?
Mostly all the books that I haven’t read and a diary that I write in every night – a little reference book more than anything else. Oh, and my phone which I’m afraid I probably shouldn’t have in my bedroom, but I do.
What was your childhood home like?
I grew up in the countryside in a lovely house. We were lucky to have a big garden, which made it a really special place for us all. It was a place filled with lots of friends and family, big open fires and I remember lunches and parties and friends popping in. It was a very happy, warm home.
Do you have a domestic guilty secret or pet hate?
I can’t cook at all – I can do toast and that’s it, I’m afraid. I also love uncluttered spaces and would happily throw everything away if could! I like everything to have a place and everything in its place – systems make life so much easier and more efficient. I must admit, it’s sometimes a bit of a battle ground with so many children!
What are some of the most memorable things that have happened in your home?
We have welcomed our babies home, celebrated lots of birthdays, christenings and family events, but I think the most memorable times for me are the humdrum, everyday moments; such as sitting around our kitchen table and laughing. It really is my happy place.
What makes your house a home?
I think the family and the debates we have. Our family sport is taking a position, even if we don’t quite believe in it, and debating it. We developed a system with small children when they could not get a word in edgeways called the ‘spoon’. If you are holding the spoon, you can finish what you are going to say and we have had some fierce fun ‘battles’ trying to get everyone’s point across clinging onto the spoon! So I think for me, home is all about the people. If you have the right people, home can be anywhere, as far as I’m concerned.
If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair by Anya Hindmarch (published by Bloomsbury) is now available to buy in paperback here.
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