Hot Houses: The Marmite House

11/07/2013 18:37 | Updated 22 May 2015

Film and TV set decorator and antiques shop co-founder Jo Kornstein lives in Kensal Rise, North West London in what she acknowledges is a bit of a 'Marmite house', with her partner Henry and their two boys, Ned and Jimmy. I love it, but why not check it out for yourself in the picture gallery below and see if you agree.

We asked Jo about the fabulously eclectic house she's called home for the past 12 years and how she got the look:

What kind of condition was the place in when you bought it and what work have you done?

The house was in a pretty poor state. It was divided into two flats, occupied by grannies, who hadn't changed a thing since the Sixties: Sixties galley kitchen with harlequin lino - that sort of thing. The carpets were about seven layers thick. Sadly, the old windows had already been pulled out. I fell in love with it as soon as I walked through the dodgy yellow porch though.

We knocked through the two reception rooms downstairs but used architraving to try and make it look like an original opening. The staircase spindles were completely clad with boards and sliced up so they had to be restored. It had to be completely rewired and have heating put in.

How would you describe the feel/look of your home to someone who had never seen it?

I would describe it as a mix of vintage and new, eclectic, quite theatrical and bold.

What's the best thing about living in your home?

The house's warmth. It always feels cosy and calm. I retained some of the Sixties bits to keep some of its decorative history and I think I feel very attached to the house because I discovered so many of its features that had been covered/ boarded up and put back some of those that had been pulled out. I guess because of my job I'm a bit of a bore about decorative history.

Please tell us about the style of your kitchen (pictured below).

The kitchen was originally done on such a tight budget that it just looked like a cream bland room with spotlights. It is also north-facing and I knew I couldn't afford to convert the side passage, so I thought I would go with the dark thing and just make it cosy and log cabin-like. I took the doors off the Magnet cupboards and got wood cut for the fronts instead. I used white tiles rather than any paint as they would reflect more light and I clad the biggest wall in old pottery boards sourced from a market.

I also exposed a brick wall just to give more warmth and texture. The ceiling felt low so I took down the plaster boarding to expose the beams (and pipes!) and stole the industrial lights from my sister's antique shop.

I put in old architraving around the doors and a crittal window above the sink so I could pretend I was living in a factory in East London.

Where do you find all the great art you have in your home?

Again mainly antiques markets, Camden Passage, Chiswick car boot sale - I used to buy paintings all the time when buying for our shop, but it's so hard to find them now.

What would you most like someone to say about your home?

That they like it! We do occasionally hear people negatively commenting on it as they walk past our front window because they can't get their heads around the black colour scheme!

What would you least like someone to say about your home?

That it needs renovating. It's actually for sale at the moment and we've had that from an estate agent... It makes me weep to think of someone coming in and ripping out all the panelling and fireplaces to 'modern it up' with downlighters and all! We sometimes have people asking when we are going to get our ceiling in the kitchen finished! Still, I realise everyone's taste is different. Another agent called our house the Marmite house, which is pretty true I think.

Where are your favourite places to shop for interiors?

Obviously my sister's shop! Circus antiques, Niche, Golborne Market, antiques markets, Goldbourne Road, Alfie's for inspiration, but not to buy (it's out of my league!) Scarlet and Violet for flowers, auction houses, reclamation yards - in Willesden or Lassco. Facade for lights.

Has the house been used as a location for anything we might have seen?

Probably not! We have been used for the new Gordon Ramsay cookbook that's not out yet...numerous underwear shoots - that my boyfriend shows far too much interest in... a few celebrity portraits and fashion campaigns. It is always shot so differently you would probably never recognise it.

In your opinion, no home should be without...what?

A log fire, some fluffy blankets and a well-stocked fridge ( I sound like a right slob!)


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