Rob da Bank: Colour and comfort

The south-London home of Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank is a friendly riot of stuffed animals, toys and textiles – and a shed disguised as a spaceship. Interview by Charlotte Philby
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The Independent Online

When my wife Josie suggested looking at a flat in East Dulwich, I was unsure. I'd never even heard of the place, and it seemed really far out, having lived further west for years. We escaped from Clapham when the rugby and All Bar One types started flooding in, and moved to Brixton, which has an amazing vibe – there's so much soul and spirit to it. But we wanted to start a family and it was too lively an area for that.

Within minutes of viewing the flat, it was, like, "Yeah, this is the one". There were kids running around and loads of light streaming through. Usually, Josie is a typical woman and homes in on the kitchen, but she walked straight past it and made a beeline for the spaceship structure in the garden. That was it. The place was sold at that moment.

I could never live in a minimalist home, or one with plastic sheets on the sofas to keep the dirt off – they just feel so uncomfortable. This had a really warm family feel, and was owned by a Scandinavian family who had kept it perfectly, with white walls and bare floorboards. We hardly had to do anything to the structure.

Because we wanted to settle here as a family, we added the extension that leads from the kitchen/dining area. It provides an amazing light and is a great space to relax or play with the baby. The guy who owned the flat before the Scandinavian family was an eccentric inventor: he built the spaceship, which doesn't actually have a function but is just great for what it is. There was a pyramid and triangular theme running throughout the flat, and we added our own touch to that.

Josie believes that a home has to represent your taste and personality, and be comfortable. She's one of those people who loves white ironed sheets, fresh smells and lots of light. Doing up this flat was an organic process – there was no game plan. We have a bright sense of colour, which is where most of the design originated, and luckily we share the same taste, so I was happy to let Josie go with it.

The first thing was to get rid of the wood chip and have the whole place, including the floors, painted. We ripped out the kitchen and installed a walnut unit, built by our friend Russell, who is in the Cuban Brothers band. We wanted another friend to do a mosaic, and had it installed in the kitchen.

Many of the decorative pieces around the house are from an amazing second- hand shop in Suffolk. The tiger head is pretty cool – we found it at Portobello Market last year. One of the best things is the hand-painted yellow cabinet, which Josie found: she was drawn to the colour of the flowers. There is a bit of an animal theme, which wasn't really planned. We just like quirky things and collected a lot from our travels. The shark came from a fisherman in Greece, and quite a lot comes from junk shops around Britain.

There are also lots of drawings from India throughout the house, such as the portrait that hangs above our bed. India has been a huge influence on our taste and lifestyle.

The living room is the highlight of our home. It gives great light and it is from this room that Josie and I arrange Bestival. It's where we eat, where our son Arlo plays: it's the hub of our family life.

Josie has an amazing eye for textiles, it was the subject of her degree at art college, where we met when we were both 18 – we've been together ever since. The sofa in the extension is by Josef Frank; it's one of our favourite possessions and Josie's latest purchase. Frank was a Swedish designer and her dream artist. His stuff is quite wacky, and when we discovered him a couple of years ago, Josie was transfixed and started following his work closely.

I bought the Hawaiian lamp shade opposite the sofa for her, and she adores it. The large white mirror that hangs in the dining area was Josie's 30th-birthday present. She told me that she wanted it, but when I presented it to her, she was pleasantly surprised.

This home works really well for us at the moment, but we want more children and Josie has her heart set on a crooked rural home, maybe in Dorset or somewhere wilder like the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by loads of children. But Dulwich is a really special place, and suits us perfectly at the moment. It's so close to Camberwell and Peckham, and having no Tube, we tend to avoid the hardened city types. This creates a real sense of community – the old boy next door is 96 and has lived in the house since he was 10, and – it's such a cliché – the neighbours do actually have chats over the garden fence.

We're all worried by the chains of coffee shops and estate agents moving on to Lordship Lane, which is one of the few places left still dominated by independent retailers. There are loads of galleries and specialist food shops, and it's really sad that this might come under threat, so we're all rallying together to prevent a takeover.

Robert Gorham, aka Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank, and his wife Josie created Sunday Best Recordings in 1995, and co-founded Bestival, the annual Isle of Wight music festival, in 2003. Josie also owns a bespoke tent company. They live in East Dulwich, south-east London, with their son Arlo, 18 months

'The A-Z of Bestival 2007' album is out now (www.sundaybest.net); Bestival 2008 tickets from www.bestival.net or 0870 066 7753

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