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JOANNA THORNHILL TALKS RENOVATIONS, COOKING AND HYGGE

We had a chat with Joanna Thornhill about what she loves about her own home and how it inspires her day-to-day

08/12/2016

Joanna Thornhill is a good person to know if you’re interested in turning your home into a beautiful reflection of yourself. An interiors stylist and writer, she is crazy about crafting and writes for some of the most well-known interiors magazines in the UK. She’s even penned her own book, ‘Home for Now: making your rented flat or first home beautiful’, which helps renters and first time buyers make their home, however temporary, a place to be proud of.

After recently renovating her own home in London, we had a chat with Joanna about what she loves about her own home and how it inspires her day-to-day.

  1. The word ‘home’ means different things to different people but what does it mean to you?
    To me, it’s the place you long to return to at the end of a long day, shut the door and breathe a sigh of relief. It’s not really about perfect design, just about a personal space that you love and want to cosy up in.

  2. A home is often a reflection of the person living there. What do you hope your home says about you?
    I often joke that my home looks like it belongs to an eccentric old lady! Our home was built in the 1890’s but when we moved in most of the original features had been hidden under laminate or plasterboard - we’ve worked really hard to strip things back and a lot of the original character is now on show. My furniture and accessories tend to span between the 1890’s to modern pieces so it’s all rather eclectic. I’ve purposefully tried to ensure there are modern elements in each room to give some indication of the place belonging to a couple in their 30’s rather than Miss Havisham - a relative once commented that walking round felt like being in a museum, which I luckily took as a compliment!

  3. We heard you’re quite into your crafts, can you give us some tips/examples of how crafting can individualise a space?
    I do love crafts and DIY and I think having a go at creating or customising things is far more satisfying than simply buying everything off-the peg. I think painting furniture is one of the main things I’ve done to create the look I want - a lot of my stuff is vintage hand-me-downs and not in the best nick, so by repainting and adding touches like modern handles to drawers or a really cool wallpaper on the back of bookcases I’ve created something more personal. I’ve also turned to DIY to save myself some money, such as by buying vintage jelly moulds and braided lighting flex to create my own kitchen lights on the cheap (with a little help from my Electrical Engineer Dad for that one!)

  4. We’re loving your recent renovation, what prompted the change and what’s your favourite bit?
    Our old kitchen was cramped, rotten and falling apart and although it was completely neutral, I really hated it - it was just so bland and sad as well as poorly designed and impractical to use! As it needed so much doing to it, we decided to bite the bullet and really go for it by extending into the side return, doubling the space and using up that redundant gap. It’s completely changed the whole look and feel of the house and I’m so pleased we made the investment. I think my favourite bit has to be the dramatic sloping roof with skylights, and how the modern structure meets the original Victorian brickwork which was originally part of the exterior.
  5. Obviously we have to talk kitchens; what trends do you think are going to dominate kitchen design and style in the coming years?
    I think we are moving away from that clinical, professional-kitchen-style look and towards spaces which blend more with the rest of the home, incorporating some unfitted elements like old dressers or islands made from reclaimed woods. People are embracing grey as a new neutral and opting for bolder, darker hues and more of a mismatched style, perhaps with different doors on wall and floor units or mixing in open shelving to showcase a mix of both practical kitchenware and more decorative pieces.

  6. While on the topic of kitchen style, do you think appliance manufacturers need to keep design in mind or should they be purely functional?
    Appliance design plays a big part in the overall aesthetic of the kitchen and I think manufacturers need to broaden their offering to cater to a wider range of tastes, as well as offering designs that co-ordinate across a range of kitchen appliances. Most designs still seem to stick to ‘safe’ options of stainless steel, black or white but for those looking for something a bit more personal, options are lacking. I’d always wanted a Smeg fridge for as long as I can remember and when I saw they had a co-ordinating oven, gas hob and cooker hood, I literally didn’t look at any other options. I love how the range I chose has a vintage feel, which fits the style of my kitchen, yet the design is restrained enough to still feel contemporary.

  7. They say, the kitchen is the heart of the home; do your skills extend to cooking and if so, which culinary delights do you enjoy whipping up?
    My partner is far more of a cook than I am, but he tends to deal with the everyday meals whereas I will be more likely to make the occasional sweet treats as well as my speciality spelt sourdough, and recently I’ve taken to making homemade treats for our (spoilt) dog! I knew before we redesigned the space that I wanted open shelving on one wall to house all our ingredients - not only does it look good, it’s also really practical as it’s easy to see what you have at a glance and it makes good use of the space. We usually have porridge for breakfast and have loads of nuts and dried fruits in jars on the shelves so it’s sort of like a healthy pick-and-mix to pimp it with!
  8. You’re obviously a very creative person but where do you find sources of inspiration on a day-to-day basis?
    As I work as an interiors stylist and writer it’s important I keep up with the latest trends and collections, so it’s always inspiring to go to press shows and see what’s coming up next season. But equally it’s nice to take inspiration from other places and it can come from anywhere really - online I love browsing Pinterest and Instagram but equally walking with the dog and taking in all the lovely Autumnal colours is very inspiring at this time of year, or visiting an art gallery or watching a beautifully art directed film.

  9. What would you say is your signature style and how has it come about?
    I think it’s sort of informally eclectic - I like things to feel quite relaxed and not too ‘done’ and I usually try to incorporate some sort of quirky touch, be it an odd little animal ornament or things like my jelly mould lampshades. My new favourite thing is a sign I made to go above the back door which says ‘to the zoo’ - it’s made from tiles which are a reproduction of the original Victorian underground tiles which pointed towards London Zoo. My style has very much evolved gradually, often through necessity - when I was starting out in my career money was scarce so I had to learn to be very frugal and it’s sort of engrained in me now - even if I was a millionaire I think I’d find more pleasure in a brilliant charity shop find than waltzing into Harrods with a loaded credit card!

  10. Finally, Christmas is on the horizon, what do you think the key trends for the festive season will be this year?
    There’s been a lot of talk about Hygge this year (the Danish word which, although doesn’t literally translate, sort of means a feeling of cosiness and enjoying the simple pleasures) - this seems to be being translated with a Nordic-style approach to Christmas decorating, with lots of natural textures like wood, wool and fur and a more handcrafted, collected feel - think pine cones, steaming hot chocolate and a roaring fire!

Follow Joanna’s advice and get your ‘Hygge’ on this Christmas with some gorgeous wintery meals. Why not fill your home with the smell of roast pork and cider by cooking a delicious loin of pork. Or, indulge in a warming chili con carne with cocoa powder. For recipes and cooking inspiration, visit our recipes section on our website.