My Home: Orla Kiely, designer

Fossils from Iceland, paving slabs from pedestrian crossings, chairs from skips - it takes an eclectic mix to please the fashion designer Orla Kiely
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The Independent Online

The designer Orla Kiely is best known for her work in fashion, but now she has a flagship interiors store is in Monmouth Street, Covent Garden. She lives in Clapham, south London, with her husband Dermott and two sons, Robert, 9, and Hamish, 11

We've lived in this house for nearly five years. One of the main reasons for moving here from our flat in Wandsworth was to have more space and a garden. With two children, you need a lot of room - we have four bedrooms and two bathrooms, over three storeys.

The kitchen is one of my favourite rooms. It overlooks the garden, and has a huge dining table, which is perfect for entertaining, as I prefer to cook with people around me.

When we moved in, it was structurally sound but, cosmetically, it needed a lot of work. The lady that lived here before was very old and hardly used the ground floor at all, which was good when we moved in because it meant there was a kitchen on the middle floor that we could use while the building work was being done. We had builders in for about six months - it should have been four, but our builder deserted us when he got a more glamorous job, working on Dannii Minogue's place. He left us in a swirl of dust for weeks before finally returning.

The kitchen used to be a lounge, and was in pristine 1970s condition. It had a skiing-chalet fireplace and a swirly carpet. I could appreciate it for its design aesthetic but couldn't have lived with it. The first thing we did was paint all the walls white, and added oak floors. We have a blackboard above the kitchen table that usually has the children's timetables on it, but it's scrubbed clean for the moment as they are not yet back at school. The only thing that remains from the original look is a 1950s-style kitchen cabinet that I repainted red and white, and now it a looks quite funky.

We changed all the windows in the house, putting back the original style and at the same time installing triple glazing - we're right next to a railway track.

Another favourite "room", if you can call it such, is the garden. We finally finished it last week. You can walk straight out from the kitchen and it's wonderful to sit in with a glass of wine in the evening as it catches the best of the late sunlight. I found some unusual paving stones for the garden - they are exactly the same as those you get beside traffic lights in London. Friends had been recommending different designs, but one day, when I was crossing the road, I noticed these stones and thought, "That's it, they're just beautiful and perfect for the garden!" I love their large dots. I ordered them from a civic supplier.

The sitting room is next to the kitchen and is the place for chilling out. We have a rather elegant 1960s walnut upright piano, which I bought for a song at an auction a few months ago. Both our boys play, and I was desperate that they should learn on a real piano rather than an electric keyboard. When the sound of them playing the piano drifts up the stairs on a Saturday morning, it really makes the house feel like a home.

My home is my haven, not because it is overtly beautiful or precious, but because it is full of all the things I love, and, of course, my family. I travel a lot for work and it is a relief sometimes to return home and just kick back.

I find London a very inspiring place to live, especially Portobello Road, Brick Lane, and all the galleries and museums. It's a fantastic place for children, too, as there's so much to do. Although we travel a lot - to Paris, Florence and Milan in particular - for our business, we like to go on weekends away to very different places. I brought some amazing fossils back from Iceland, where we went to visit a friend recently for the weekend. They came from his volcano, and now they are sitting on our DVD player, beneath the television. It was the most inspiring place I have ever been to.

There are two identical fireplaces in the sitting room, now with gas fires, as we knocked the room from two into one, and in the winter it is very cosy.

We have a large vintage leather sofa that I found in a junk shop, and another from the Conran Shop, which I then covered in my own fabrics and cushions.

If you're lucky, you can find some amazing things on the street. One day I was driving down a road and I saw this fabulous 1960s chair in a skip. I stopped the car immediately and ran into the house to tell my husband to get it. It looks very elegant now in front of the piano.

We painted the stairs white, with a bright orange strip that runs down the middle. Our bedroom is on the second floor and looks out on to the street. The two huge windows are covered using a fabric with one of my own Pear designs.

Our boys' room is right next door and overlooks the garden. At the moment they sleep in bunk beds. Upstairs we have another spare bedroom and bathroom, all painted white with a sleek roll-top bath, and a study. We're in the process of changing the study into a bedroom for one of our boys, so everything is in a bit of chaos right now.

No doubt, in the near future, we will have further evolved and will be adapting yet another room. As long as the work doesn't take as long as the garden did, I'll be happy.

www.orlakiely.com

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