My Home: Henrietta Green, food writer

Good lighting is a key ingredient in the Victorian home of the food writer Henrietta Green.
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The broadcaster and founder of the Food Lovers' Fair lives in a Victorian two-bedroom house in Queen's Park, London with George, her Lucas terrier.

I had been rather pathetic about finding somewhere to live after I sold my flat in Notting Hill. I was rooming with a friend of mine near here, but I couldn't find any place to rent and this house was on the market. I thought: "I might as well buy it."

These early Victorian terraced houses are pretty compact - they are little houses with a bit of pretension about them, and mine still has its original windows and ceiling mouldings, which are very pretty.

When I sold my flat, I paid off my mortgage and, seven or eight years ago, I bought this house for cash. It was in the throes of being developed and I made an offer that was subject to them leaving it well alone, because what they were doing was revolting - they brought cheap fireplaces and they were also knocking a terrible window through in the kitchen wall.

The builders started after Christmas and I moved in at the end of May the following year - they took longer than they should have because they mismanaged the job. I am used to working with workers but, boy, you have to be there all of the time. I used to have to come up and check virtually every day.

What I did was a complete indulgence. I took my bedroom and made my own ensuite bathroom with a dressing room. I was introduced to this girl who is not an architect but she does drawings. She drew [plans for] the bedroom, the dressing room and my bathroom, which I think she did very well, and it is a good use of space.

My bedroom is not as tidy as it should be - there are too many books and I need to sort them all out. I read in my bed, I watch television in my bed and every so often I clear my books out but I don't know where to put them.

I collect nudes, which decorate my bedroom walls. I started collecting these when I acquired a Rose Hilton, whose husband was Roger Hilton. All of the pictures in my collection are by different people, and the only non-nude here is a picture of me done by a friend of mine.

Inspired by Aaron Spelling's wife who had a present-wrapping room, I always thought I'd like to have one, so I made one under the stairs to the attic. I call it my vase room. Rather stupidly, I didn't do the attic, where I have my study and keep hundreds of cookery books, until a year or two later. I should have done it all in one go.

When I moved here, the garden was a wasteland. Now it's got quite a few herbs and lots of flowers - but no lawn because life's too short to mow the lawn. You have to be incredibly ruthless with a small garden; this has been the year of the very serious prune. I've got a helper who used to be a hairdresser and did the topiary for me, such as a small topiary heart, but unfortunately he also over-did the bay tree, which I bought about 12 to 15 years ago in Portobello.

I admit that the carpets are a disgrace, but there is absolutely no point in doing something about it until George stops tearing it up. He is a seven-month-old Lucas terrier and has bitten it into bits and pieces. He's also chewed up an arm of one of my favourite chairs- it's a lovely Victorian wicker chair that I've had for 20 years. But what can you do? I'd rather have a dog and, from the moment I brought him home, he's been wonderful. All things considered, he's clean, he's very cheery and he's terribly affectionate, but he's also naughty.

One of my great friends is Sir Peter Osborne from Osborne & Little, and I got the wallpaper in the spare bedroom at one of their wallpaper sales. But then I do get some good trade discounts.

I think there are some very simple tricks about making anything look appealing. If you have people for supper, lay a table as prettily as you possibly can. If you have a pretty table laid out, it is a very nice way to envelop people.

The other thing that is often so underestimated is lighting. Virtually all of the lights here are on dimmers. For meals, I often light candles. I've got hundreds of candles and candlesticks.

I also have a major 1930s collection of china that includes some Carson and Beswick pieces, which are soft, flowery and very decorative, but it's all stored now. I collect traditional blue-and-white tableware as well. I used to have it all over the walls but now I keep things slightly plainer and shove it all in a kitchen cupboard and use it for eating.

I also collect mirrors - some I bought, some I inherited. With the odd bits and pieces, you have to have an eye and just collect it. In fact, I hardly do it any more now because I think that I have reached my limit of collecting. I mean, how much does a girl need?

Henrietta Green's Food Lovers' Fair will be at the House & Garden Fair, Olympia from 29 June to 2 July (0870 166 0440;