Melissa Hemsley tells us about life in her characterful East London Victorian townhouse which she shares with her boyfriend Henry and their beloved dog Nelly
MELISSA IN HER HOME KITCHEN IN EAST LONDON. IMAGE: SARAH MALCOLM
What’s your favourite thing about your home?
My bath; it’s an obvious contender for the most relaxing space in my home. It’s an ideal spot to read, I problem-solve in there as well and I often feel inspired. I also have lovely chats with my boyfriend in there, too!
Can you describe your front door?
I think is original, we haven’t touched it. It could do with a fresh lick of paint but it’s at the bottom of our very long to do list. Right now it has a homemade wreath on it and as you walk in, there is a welcome mat on the floor that says ‘GOODBYE’ on it.
MELISSA AND HER BOYFRIEND HENRY FELL IN LOVE WITH THE HOUSE’S ORIGINAL VICTORIAN FEATURES, SUCH AS THE MARBLE FIREPLACE (LEFT); MELISSA’S BELOVED PIANO (RIGHT). IMAGES: INSTAGRAM/MELISSA HEMSLEY
What was the first thing you did to your home when you moved in?
We spent two weeks ripping out various things, like a four-poster bath tub in a carpeted bathroom. The house was built in 1878 and we’ve kept as many original features and incredible period details as possible; my boyfriend Henry restored all the beautiful cornicing and ceiling roses. Four years after moving in, we are still restoring as we continue to save up for the improvements and building works.
How would you describe your home kitchen?
The kitchen is the biggest space in our home as it’s the most important and special place, both for life and work. It has two walls of glass, so it’s filled with light and we extended it into the garden, so it’s surrounded by the start of a very basic vegetable and herb garden. The doors, windows and kitchen island are made of eco-friendly Richlite. There’s a bookshelf running across one wall loaded with a rainbow of cookbooks and another wall of Vitra shelves filled with dried goods from bulk shops. I try to avoid plastic packaging.
TO REDUCE PLASTIC, MELISSA BULK BUYS NON-PERISHABLE FOOD AND STORES IT IN GLASS JARS ON HER OPEN SHELVING (LEFT); WITH BOYFRIEND HENRY AND NELLY THE DOG (RIGHT). IMAGES: INSTAGRAM/MELISSA HEMSLEY
What was your childhood home like?
I think we moved house eight times during my childhood. My dad was in the army, so they were almost all army homes, either in South West London or Germany, so they were functional and basic and I always got the smallest room as I’m the baby in the family. I remember they often had little nooks under the stairs where I made dens, and my whole family loves to read so we’ve always covered every available wall space with shelves of books.
What’s on your bedside table?
Next to my bed are books, crystals, a candle, always a mug of tea, my eye mask, De Mamiel face cream and lavender room spray.
What makes your house a home?
Our beloved dog Nelly; a six-year-old blue Staffordshire bull terrier. She is the light of our lives, she even sleeps in the bed with us. Terrible, isn’t it?
Melissa Hemsley’s latest book, Eat Green, is out now. Photography by Philippa Langley. Published by Ebury Press, RRP £22