- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Many of us know Mary Portas as the face, and champion, of the British high street, but in recent years she’s taken up another cause. Work Like a Woman, her 2018 book, was a manifesto for change, for women to rise up against alpha culture and adopt a more collaborative way of getting things done.
It was a rallying cry that architects Amelia Hunter and Anna Drakes were eager to answer. The duo were working with Project OO – a collective studio of architects, designers, scientists, economists and more – when Mary approached the company looking for someone to help reimagine her London home.
It’s testament to the broadcaster and author’s inspirational power that Amelia and Anna not only created a welcoming interior that distills Mary’s ‘firecracker’ personality, but also formed a brand-new studio: Space A.
‘It’s been wonderful to watch Space A grow,’ says Mary. ‘It’s important to me to support talented young business owners who embody values beyond profit and growth. In the post-pandemic era, it’s about care, respect and understanding the implications of what we are doing and how we are living. It’s more than design.’
This new value system is something Mary argues for in her new book, Rebuild: How to Thrive in the New Kindness Economy, and it was key to every stage of this project.
For Mary, the most important element of the renovation was to use as many of the property’s original and pre-loved features as possible. The fireplaces and utility room are decorated with old church tiles that she collected, as well as ones found in the house. Also there when she moved in was the vintage sink in the powder room, a space which is made contemporary with a shocking lick of orange paint and joyfully clashing House of Hackney wallpaper.
In the basement, English oak panelling, herringbone flooring and joinery lend the new kitchen a timeless quality, while upstairs, the two reception rooms are open-plan yet divided by a bold shift in colour: Dulux’s ‘Olive Grove’ on one side and ‘Powder Pink’ on the other.
As one would expect from Mary, British brands and artists are heavily represented throughout (Grayson Perry’s Britain is Best tapestry seems right at home here), but when it came to selecting furniture with the help of interior decorator Louise Donald, what was most important to the prolific broadcaster and author was that the people behind the brands were kind, honest and passionate about their products. She was looking, says Amelia, for ‘a spark in their eyes’.
That passion is the energy Mary wants to invite into her home. It is one of what Amelia pithily describes as the ‘five a day for your space: the metaphorical vitamins and minerals that you need for your psychological health.’
‘For me, my home is part of my spirit and joy as a human,’ adds Mary. ‘Now full of colour, character and warmth, it’s a place where I can be my best self and has been such a refuge during the past year.’ Above all, the biggest joy has been to work with people who, she says, ‘understood what I as a woman needed to feel nurtured and at home’. spacea.co.uk