03/10/2011 12:30 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Hot Houses: Loft Living

Beverlie Manson is a successful children's book illustrator who for 12 years has lived and worked in a Victorian loft in a very fashionable part of East London. A former semi-finalist in Britain's Best Home, the apartment, unlike many open-plan live/work spaces, feels both airy and grand and just cosy enough - and very much like home.


We chatted to Beverlie about how she achieved the look:

It must have been challenging to turn a former factory space into something with a genuinely homely feel..?
Well, I used an architect but I was very hands on with the design and it very much reflected my personality and how I wanted to use the space - I'm an illustrator, and it was very much a case of living where I work rather than working where I live.

The look you've created is very romantic - has this always been your style or do you tend to change things up from home to home?
Yes, it's quite theatrical - it's always been my style. The studio space is functional, quite utilitarian in a way, with quite simple lines. When you're illustrating children's books it's important to have a certain amount of calmness around you. Then the atmosphere almost changes when you walk down to the other living area, which is very theatrical and I suppose romantic, but not in a girly way - in a rather more baroque sort of way.

Do you have certain "go-to" interiors shops that you find yourself using all the time?
No, I don't go to any. I used to have a house in Highgate where I brought my family up - and I used to be a real collector of things - antiques and so on, but usually I end up picking things up when I am out for a day driving around in the country. A few of the pieces, like the mirrors, I picked up very early in the morning at Bermondsey Market, many years ago. When I left the house in Highgate I had so much stuff, but most of it I either gave away or sold and then bought other pieces that I thought would go well in here.

Tell us about the wrought iron gates at the entrance to your bedroom...
They're from the Paris Metro.

What's the best thing about living in this type of space?
It suits my lifestyle. The way I've done it, I've created emotional divisions - I think anyone who's living in a loft and hacks it up into individual rooms is missing a trick or two, because if you want to live like that you should just go and buy a flat. I've kept everything open, even the bathroom.

You're on the books of locations agency jjlocations. Has the house been used for anything we might have seen?
It's often used as a location for talking heads for shows like Grumpy Old Women - that kind of thing. It's a very versatile space and seems to lend itself to all sorts of uses. Sometimes I can be watching TV and I've been watching it for a while and suddenly I realise - hang on a minute, that's my place!