My Home: Jenny Packham, fashion designer

She dresses stars for the red carpet, but prefers privacy to celebrity parties. Jenny Packham explains why family and fabrics make the perfect home
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The Independent Online

Jenny Packham's couture gowns are worn by Hollywood film stars such as Halle Berry and Keira Knightley and pop stars such as Pink and Beyoncé. Last week, she won the Hollywood Style Fashion Designer of the Year Award, presented by Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore in LA. She lives in Kentish Town, north London, with her husband, Matthew, and her daughters, Isabella, 8, and Georgia, 12.

used to lived in a tiny one-bedroom flat in Primrose Hill. When Isabella was six months old, we moved here because we needed more space. It's a three-bedroom house set over four storeys, and it has its own garden. One of the first things that attracted me to it was the light. It has amazing views over London. From the top floor, you can see the Post Office Tower from the bath in our en-suite, open-plan bathroom. It still thrills me to think that we're right in the middle of the capital!

The bedroom is one of my favourite rooms. I love waking up to white - it feels peaceful. Having the bathroom in the same room is luxurious. We designed it specifically with our architect, because we wanted to have a separate bathroom from our daughters. It felt right being able to walk over from the bed.

The house has a neutral feel: white walls, grey carpets and wooden floors on the ground floor add to a mood of calm.

We wanted a blank canvas. We have sculpture and art throughout the house. The colour and texture seem to come from the art and the objects, rather than wallpapers and curtains. I have a lot of framed sketches by the fashion illustrator Howard Tangye, who is renowned for covering John Galliano's shows in Paris. I also have some Cocteau prints and I recently bought a limited-edition Salvador Dali print that I adore.

My husband, Matthew, who is also my business partner, originally trained as a sculptor at Central St Martins, where we both met, so together we have an understanding and passion for art and we love collecting new pieces. One of the most striking influences in our home has been our love of North Africa. Every year, we visit Morocco, and we always find something there for our house. Kilim rugs, African masks, fabrics, ceramics and plates have all found their way back from the souks of Essaouira and Marrakech. Another place we love to visit is India: we went to Kerala with the girls last year and brought back some great pieces of fabric.

You have to be culturally and politically aware as a fashion designer. I think my home is reflective of my work, but, more than anything, it is a family house. A lot of people try to decorate their home just to show off to others. Working in fashion and raising a family does not necessarily go hand in hand - usually one thing has to give. We have sacrificed a lot of the partying. If I did go out every night, I might meet more people, and perhaps my business would be different, but I am happy with the way it is.

My home is a sanctuary from all that goes on around us, and I enjoy the peace and tranquillity that it provides. We have a small garden that you can walk out on to from the kitchen. During the summer months, we open the doors completely and it is like another room. I have bought the things in my home because I felt passionate about them. I couldn't just walk away from them. I think that if you really feel strongly for something, it fits in to your home and works well.

I love books. Most of the books that I own are in my studio for work, but I have retrospectives of the fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, the German artist Joseph Beuys and the furniture designer Eileen Gray at home. I love to look at them. We started off wanting to be minimalist and bought a very plain grey sofa and chair from Heal's, but after a while you always revert to type. Now I tend to get furniture from antiques markets or junk stores. I love Camden and Alfies antiques market in Marylebone. I avoid places such as Habitat because they are just too generic.

I also think clothes can be quite an interesting way to adorn a room. I often hang a little vintage jacket on the sitting-room door, or place some beautiful shoes just outside a cupboard, so you can appreciate them like a work of art.

I love travelling, but I do think that London still has the edge. Take a walk along Portobello Road or through Camden market and you will always find inspiration. In some countries, such as Italy, people tend to be driven by so many rules of dressing, where you have to wear all the same labels at once. In London, we aren't afraid of individuality, and you can mix designer pieces with something vintage or even something from Primark.

There are a lot of looks that I don't like, but I most abhor yellow walls. There is something about painting walls yellow that is meant to make you feel happy, but it has the opposite effect on me.

I like being in Kentish Town. It is real and it has character. We lived in Hampstead for a spell while the house was being renovated. It is one of these areas that many people aspire to live in, but it was terribly boring and almost anaesthetically sterile.

If someone's cat went missing, it was a major disaster. Here, there are things that go on in the night, but I like that - it reminds you that you're living in the heart of the city.

www.jennypackham.com, 020-7267 1864

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