Kate Thompson lives in Twickenham with her husband, two sons and an escape artist Jack Russell called Twinkle. Kate is a freelance journalist and author of nostalgic wartime drama, Secrets of the Singer Girls by Pan Macmillan.
Please describe your home in 5 words. Noisy. Fun. Light. Open-plan. Communal.
What inspires your home style? I like the light, sun-bleached and white washed Danish influence, but I also adore the American Hamptons style of wooden shutters, huge, squishy sofas and relaxed easy beach living.
Do you follow trends? Not religiously no. I don’t have the time or money to interpret them and I’m more interested in a home that works for the comfort of my family, than one that would sit in a homes magazine. It’s quite dull to follow a prescriptive style plan. I think the most stylish homes reflect the individuality and personality of the owner.
What is your favourite ritual at home? It depends on the time of day. In the morning, when I’ve dropped the kids off at school I come home, brew a fresh coffee, turn on Radio 4 and retreat to my office to work. I also like the craziness of kids’ teatime; chatting to them about their day while I prepare tea, and my Sunday night ritual. Slip on comfy socks, pour a glass of red wine and light candles before settling down to Downton Abbey.
What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your house and why? My office at the end of the garden is my favourite part of the house, because it’s my space (sons and husband free zone) to work and write quietly in and I get to indulge in a bit more femininity style-wise than I would in the rest of the house, with vintage bunting on the walls and cushions. The least favourite part is the side return of our semi-detached house. It’s a dumping ground. You have to negotiate bikes, paddling pools and recycling bins to open the side gate. I also long for a decent sized utility room where I could hang clothes to dry. I suppose we all long for more space.
Which room is the tidiest? The messiest? The tidiest is my office, because it’s a kid free zone, the messiest is the kitchen and open plan lounge, because it’s where the kids loll about. There are some days where I swear I’m welded to a dustpan and brush, sweeping up baked beans and crumbs off the kitchen floor! Is there anyone with children who can claim to have clean floors?
Can you tell me any interesting facts or stories about your house’s history? Our house dates back to 1901 and is Edwardian, but I think the most recent history is more interesting. I gave birth to my 4-year-old son Stanley at home so his history will forever be linked to our home. I never really considered a home birth until the midwife suggested it. So we got a birthing pool in and went into it with an open mind. In the event it was the most amazing thing I feel I’ve ever done and giving birth in the place I love the most made for a stress free birth.
Within half an hour of giving birth I was showered and sitting up in my own bed with nice clean sheets with my new baby, drinking tea and eating toast. I only went to hospital for my scans and everything else was done at home. I wouldn’t describe myself as a new age hippy or a mother earth type. I just instinctively felt home was the right place to give birth in.
What is your most treasured object and why? A beautiful Carole Weight painting inherited from my grandfather.
What’s your biggest extravagance and your thriftiest purchase? I suppose the biggest extravagance is our stainless steel, American double-door fridge, which cost, well, a lot. My two boys eat gigantic quantities of food so it’s generally speaking well stocked and the freezer compartment is a massive pull out shelf, which means you don’t need to give yourself frostbite digging out the fish fingers.
We also bought a Jura coffee machine from Harrods which even in the sale cost a lot, but it’s makes amazing coffee at the touch of a button so I try to convince myself I’ve saved myself a fortune on takeaway coffees!
My most adored thriftiest piece is a mirror I made myself. I bought a lovely old wooden Edwardian paneled door-frame (the semi-circular arch that sits on the top of grand old doors) from a reclamation yard for £20. I sanded it down, painted it, took it to a glazier and got him to fill the panels with mirror for £20 and it’s now a really beautiful and unique mirror. I notice they are selling them at Kempton Antiques Market for three times the amount.
Whose home do you most admire and why? My neighbour Giselle. She is responsible for buying, and displaying the home furnishings and antiques for achingly cool Petersham Nurseries in Richmond. She scours Parisian flea markets, Provencal markets and many other places, off the beaten track to source some really beautiful, individual pieces of furniture and home ware.
Her home is reflection of her work place with massive over sized mirrors, zinc top tables, 1930s chairs, beaded lampshades, vintage French wooden shutters and armoires. She has an eye for what will make a home look striking. Whether it’s an Indian Barber box stuffed with blankets or a giant tree root made into table legs, she turns extraordinary items into functional but breathtaking home ware.
What is your earliest memory of ‘home’? It’s funny how when you cast your mind back you conveniently forget the squabbling with siblings and wrap the past in the golden glow of nostalgia. I remember eating toasted crumpets, warming my toes by an open fire after long walks on Wimbledon Common, noisy games of Monopoly and Scrabble on the rug, watching Hi-di-Hi! and Carry on Films on a Saturday afternoon with plates of cheese and toast on my lap.
My mum cooking up mince for our tea (early in the morning) before she clocked on for her shift as a nurse, the sound of my dad bustling around our tiny kitchen (everyone had tiny kitchens in those days) preparing tea and soft boiled eggs for our breakfast.
We were lucky to live near the Thames at Hampton Court and me my brother and sister had a canoe, which we used to take out on the river. Looking back we enjoyed an awful lot of freedom, but that just made home all the more wonderful to return to. It’s funny, but I don’t’ recall furniture at all, just the feel and warmth of the place.
What does home mean to you? A safe, warm, comfortable sanctuary from the outside world. A place to rest, eat, relax, read, sleep and ultimately raise your family in.
Thank you Kate for showing us round your wonderfully inviting home. You can find out more about Kate’s writing on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @katethompson380. Secrets of the Singer Girls by Pan Macmillan is available now.
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