Sharon Ozbek is the mother of one of my wonderful friends, so I have a great love for the home you are about to see. It has been the backdrop to many very jolly evenings. Every time I have entered the front door I make exclamations of how much I love the place. So I was lucky that Sharon when moving out committed to taking part in Knock Knock. Her move has also coincided with the launch of her exquisite new tableware brand Mila London, so I feel this is killing two birds with one stone - An tip top Knock Knock & an introduction to Mila London.
I can only apologise for the jamming so many photographs in, I've decided more is more.
Having grown up in South Africa, where most of my childhood was spent barefoot, outdoors, I had always dreamed of having a London home with a garden. It was not until 2017 – almost thirty years after moving here – that I found this property in the Mapesbury Estate, North-West London, with 150 feet of green. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to own it, after which I discovered what a gargantuan task and great expense it is to keep such a garden maintained! Still, flinging open the French doors on a sunny day and keeping them open throughout the summer, brings me endless joy. The flat was calling out for a makeover when I purchased it. I gutted the whole thing, reconfiguring the ground-floor layout by knocking through walls, enlarging the living room, moving the kitchen from front to back and creating a feeling of openness with a tall opening. When the work was complete, it was the perfect space to fill with new and old furniture and the many artefacts I’ve collected over the years.
I spend hours scrolling through Etsy and 1st Dibs and have an ever-growing wish list. I have recently developed a major crush on bamboo and was delighted to find two bamboo dining chairs on Etsy, for a bargain price. I am not sure I will ever get over this addiction and may forever be hunting for vintage rattan and bamboo pieces.
I also have a particular penchant for handmade ceramics, though no talent for making my own pottery, I swiftly found out during the one class I took. I adore the work of Hylton Nel and am fortunate enough to have visited his studio in Calitzdorp, Klein Karoo. His series of plates hanging above the fireplace in my living room is my pride and joy. Nel is one of many brilliant artists in the Cape Peninsula. I have collaborated with a selection of these artists, whose exquisite collections can be found at the homeware store I recently founded with my good friend Rosy www.Mila-London.com
Much of what’s in my flat, is inspired by the 8 years I lived in Istanbul when I was in my twenties and newly married. I cherish the days spent in the Grand Bazaar, not least because of my treasured collection of vintage Ottoman textiles. Istanbul is a magical city that I still feel is in my blood and is the perfect place to shop for vintage fabrics. Wherever I go, my fabrics accompany me, even if they do become sarongs or wraps!
Table Set With The Beautiful Mila London
One of the best gifts that I ever received was a Peter Beard limited-edition coffee-table book. It came in a clamshell box and sits proudly on a wooden bookstand in my living room. Partly art, partly activism, Beard’s extraordinary photographs capture something so visceral about the continent that I’m from, caught between natural beauty of the greatest kind and industrialization. After four years in this flat, I am moving on. I have sold it to a family whom I hope will get the kind of joy from it that I have, while I search for my next exciting design project. Watch this space!