Back to black: Tamara Beckwith's stark, high-gloss home

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Expensive shades of Farrow & Ball neutrals? Not for Tamara Beckwith. In her grand Chelsea house, she decided to turn up the contrast


Tamara Beckwith was one of the original 1990s 'It' girls. Born in 1970, the daughter of property tycoon Peter Beckwith, Tamara dropped out of Cheltenham Ladies College to have her daughter, Anouska. She has dated Sly Stallone and Charlie Sheen, and in August married the Italian construction heir Giorgio Veroni.

I was brought up in Wimbledon and after school I lived in LA for some time and then moved back to London. When my daughter Anouska finished boarding school, I presumed we would move back to Los Angeles, but then I met my future husband Giorgio in Monaco at the Grand Prix about four years ago.

After six months we had moved in together and before we decided to get married we were looking at places to buy. We bought this house in Chelsea in January 2004 and moved in in September that year. It was a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house, but we changed the layout and it now has three bedrooms.

Two of the smaller bedrooms we transformed into dressing rooms as both my husband and I have a lot of clothes, so we need one each. I adore fashion and especially shoes, and I have hundreds by Jimmy Choo, as Tamara [Mellon, who co-founded the company] is one of my best friends – we have the same shoe size.

This house was a joint project between my husband and I. We worked together on everything, from choosing the pictures on the walls to deciding on the size of the studs around the upholstery.

My last house in Los Angeles was all pinks and leopard prints. If I'd had my way here I would probably have gone full-on, with disco balls hanging from the ceiling. Well, we do have disco balls, but they're resting in the fireplace. So with his traditional Italian style, my husband has reined me in a bit.

It was Giorgio's idea to do the house all in black and white, which works very well for both of us. I love black-and-white photos, and have a great collection of prints, many by my friend, the photographer Terry O'Neill, and also by Bob Carlos Clarke. I think unless you can afford really expensive art it looks better to have photographs. Our Marilyn Monroes aren't Warhols but they're by an LA artist who's from the same school. I have a wall downstairs of photos of my idol, Joan Collins – as she embodies everything about glamour that I love.

Our bedroom, which is on the first floor, is all white and is very calming. The only picture is a photograph of Dita Von Teese which is next to the en suite bathroom. We have a plasma TV in our bedroom but no other television in the house.

We went to town on our en suite and for the epitome of luxury we put in marble flooring from Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany. It has under-floor heating too, and the sinks and bath are from Murano, Venice. We took off the door of the [en suite] bathroom to create more space. Some people might have a problem having no door on the bathroom, but we are both fine with it.

Upstairs is my daughter's bedroom, for when she is home. I tend to spend most of my time in the kitchen and living room on the ground floor. We had the kitchen specially made in Milan and at a third of the price of what it would have cost here. We had a great guy who made it, drove it over, and fitted it in just a weekend.

I don't understand why people employ an interior designer. Unless, of course, you have no inclination or you want it to be ready in a minute. Choosing the way to decorate your home is one of the easiest and most enjoyable things you can do.

The curtains in the living room are black-and-white striped, which you may think would be easy to find, but took forever. Finally, I found some fabric by Ralph Lauren that suited perfectly.

We have a range of Queen's head cushions from Fake London, and my husband adores studs, so there are studs around the bottom of the chairs by the coffee table.

We have two fireplaces in the living room and two black Louis XIV-style chairs that I bought in Portobello. They used to be a rather garish gold but then I had them spray-painted in black lacquer. We have a wonderful guy who is actually a car sprayer who can lacquer anything in car paint.

Now we have a carpet in black and white, but we have had it so many different ways. Before, it was black-painted floor boards, and then it was a soft black lacquered floor, which made it feel like you were on an S&M photo shoot.

I have an Andy Warhol-style series of pictures of Marilyn Monroe above the sofa which I bought in LA, and we have a wonderful bookcase from Ralph Lauren full of books on art, photography and travel.

I have a huge collection of magazines, I buy everything from Vogue to Oggi [the Italian celebrity magazine], I've got magazines going back to 1985. I adore books, too – give me a book over a computer any day.

I like living in Chelsea, it has a nice community feel, you see people you know around, and you can walk everywhere. We go out often to eat, sometimes to our friend Will Ricker's restaurant Eight Over Eight, which is nearby. There's also a lovely Indian restaurant called Vama nearby.

We were thinking of moving to Los Angeles, but you can't just be there for the sake of it. You have to be able to work in the movie business or the music industry. But we're happy here. Both my husband and I love living in London.

Tamara Beckwith stars in 'Celebrity Scissorhands' on BBC3 on 28 October

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