The writer and cook shares the stories of her colourful London home and her charming Palazzo flat in Venice, which she shares with her husband and two sons
AUTHOR AND COOK SKYE McALPINE IN HER KITCHEN AT HER HOME IN VENICE, ITALY
Where do you live and why?
I live between Venice and London. I grew up in Venice and my family still lives there so, for me, it feels like home. My husband works in London so we juggle life between the two. I feel very lucky to have the contrast of the two cities – life is deliciously slow-paced in Venice, and always buzzy, exciting and inspiring in London.
How would you describe your homes?
Our flat in Venice is in an old crumbling Palazzo – it’s not very practical but I love it and that’s a huge part of the charm for me. In London, we live in a house – it’s cosy, comfortable and colourful.
What’s the first thing you did to each home when you moved in?
In London we ripped everything out and started afresh – we bought the house as a project and knowing that we could make it somewhere we would be really happy. In Venice I bought lots of candles: the lighting set-up is quite dated and not very flattering, but everything looks dreamy by candlelight.
(LEFT) SKYE’S SOFT YELLOW KITCHEN FILLED WITH FRESH FLOWERS IN HER HOME IN LONDON; (RIGHT) SKYE’S TABLE LAID FOR A CANDLELIT SUPPER WITH FRIENDS. IMAGES: INSTAGRAM/SKYE McALPINE
What items or decoration are essential to fuelling your creativity and making you feel good in your kitchen at home?
I have a huge collection of cookbooks – a lot of them are old editions and second hand books I’ve found through Abe books or in second hand bookshops. I love nothing more than leafing through them and always end up feeling inspired to cook (and eat!). I also have a big collection of old plates and platters and dishes – I have endless faith in the quasi-magical power of a pretty plate to make even a plate of scambled eggs on toast feel and look spectacular.
Your new book is called ‘A Table for Friends’ – can you describe a typical lunch or dinner party in your home?
Chaotic. Relaxed. Lots of friends. Big plates of food on the table with everyone digging in. Flickering candles. The happy hum of chatter and conversation. And some kind of towering pavlova style cake to finish the meal off.
What was your childhood home like?
Always welcoming. My parents ran an open kitchen of sorts and we always had friends joining us for lunch and dinner. I loved the convivial atmosphere that they created.
Describe your front door…
It’s dark green with a gaggle of pot plants clustered, higgledy piggledy around the steps in front of it.
(LEFT) A LAZY MORNING IN SKYE’S BEAUTIFUL BEDROOM; (RIGHT) SKYE’S HOME IN A ‘CRUMBLING PALAZZO’ IN VENICE, ITALY. IMAGES: INSTAGRAM/SKYE McALPINE
What’s on your bedside table?
Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and an old copy of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love (both of which I’m reading at the moment). A carafe of water (it’s a pretty glass jug, hand painted by my very talented friend Petra Palumbo) and a small posy of flowers.
Your home always looks so beautiful on your Instagram feed – do you have a domestic guilty secret that’s kept out of shot?
There’s plenty of mess and chaos in our home which I try not to show – especially when I’m working to a deadline, my study and our kitchen tend to go quite feral.
What are some of the most memorable things that have happened in your home?
We moved into our house in London the week our second son, Achille, was born. I’ll always remember taking him home for the first time and sitting with him in the big armchair in the kitchen.
Has your home felt different in recent months since lockdown?
In some ways it’s felt cosier. It’s been really nice having all of us at home together and being able to spend more time together. But I’ve definitely missed having friends over.
What makes your house a home?
This recipe is taken from A Table For Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty, by Skye McAlpine. Published by Bloomsbury.
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