Mollie Makes - - Contents - Words: LOT­TIE STOREY Pho­tog­ra­phy: RACHAEL SMITH

Take a peek in­side knit and home­ware de­signer Donna Wil­son’s char­ac­ter­ful pad

Through The Key­hole would never work at Donna Wil­son’s home. One look in­side and it’s ob­vi­ous who owns this house – her in­stantly recog­nis­able knit­ted crea­tures and trade­mark ce­ramic faces peep back at you from every room. Donna and hus­band Jon live here in Ley­ton­stone with their two sons, four cats, and hun­dreds more Donna Wil­son cre­ations. The fam­ily bought the house back in 2013 af­ter two years of search­ing. “On the sur­face, it all looked nice and fresh,” Donna

re­calls. “But un­der­neath it all the de­vel­op­ers had done a re­ally bad job, so we’re grad­u­ally fix­ing bits!” It’s clear to see the house has good bones though, with high ceil­ings, pe­riod fea­tures such as cor­nic­ing and orig­i­nal win­dows, plus a gen­er­ous hall­way. It was the lat­ter that swung it for Donna. “It was ad­ver­tised as a de­tached house, but it was pho­tographed re­ally badly and was over­grown, dark and dingy. We didn’t know the area at all, but I to­tally fell in love with the house and in­stantly found my­self imag­in­ing do­ing up the kids’ room! And the hall… It was such a lux­ury to have a hall­way.”

So is the hall­way Donna’s favourite room? “It’s such a lovely light area of the house,” Donna swoons. “I try my best to stop it get­ting filled up with jack­ets and shoes but it’s a con­stant bat­tle. My other favourite is the bath­room, which has a big roll top bath.” Donna and Jon’s house­plant col­lec­tion lives here, too. “There’s green­ery climb­ing ev­ery­where in there. I think the cli­mate is right to keep them alive, plus it gives the room a re­ally earthy feel.”

So how does Donna dec­o­rate? “I start with a favourite piece of fur­ni­ture to es­tab­lish a colour pal­ette,” she ex­plains, “then add pieces of fur­ni­ture, art or wall hang­ings. I don’t like things too match­ing, as I like a room to have a bit of char­ac­ter.” And what about the fin­ish­ing touches? “I think your home should have your own unique style – I do this with small col­lec­tions of ob­jects I put on shelves; lit­tle things I’ve col­lected over the years that make me happy to have around. The other thing I have a lot of in the house is tex­ture – macramé or wo­ven wall hang­ings. I’m al­ways drawn to tex­ture, and I think it adds a homely warmth.”

For a de­signer with such an eye for colour, Donna’s home has sur­pris­ingly min­i­mal as­pects. The liv­ing room, for ex­am­ple, com­bines white

walls with strong, al­most pri­mary colours, and black and white pic­tures. “This room is di er­ent from the rest of the house,” agrees Donna. “I fell in love with the red wall hang­ing but al­ready had the blue sofa which clashes. I thought I’d keep the rest of the dé­cor monochro­matic. The black stove seemed to pull it all to­gether.”

The fam­ily has a sec­ond wood burn­ing stove in the kitchen; a space with a sloped ceil­ing, multi-as­pect win­dows and a large din­ing table. Donna es­pe­cially loves the kitchen’s height: “It feels very spa­cious. I light the log burn­ing stove as soon as I get up, which in­stantly makes the room feel homely. I love the smell of it. We do a lot of arts and crafts around the kitchen table, so it’s im­por­tant to have a wel­com­ing space.”

With a style Donna de­scribes as “colour­ful, pat­tern­ful, eclec­tic, and a mix of old and new,” is it hard to find fur­ni­ture to fit? “Over the years, we’ve bought pieces from SCP, a fur­ni­ture shop I sell my work to. But a lot of our fur­ni­ture comes from car boots or Jon’s skip finds. He loves giv­ing things a new life, restor­ing them in di er­ent and un­usual ways,” ex­plains Donna.

For this fam­ily, di er­ent and un­usual also means bright and full of char­ac­ter. “Home has to be a happy, in­spir­ing place,” says Donna. And with a creative busi­ness that’s go­ing from strength to strength, this is one in­spir­ing home that’s def­i­nitely tick­ing all of those boxes.

It’s im­por­tant to Donna that home isn’t too pre­cious – a place to live and en­joy, too. “I love be­ing sur­rounded by lit­tle sen­ti­men­tal ob­jects, so I make ‘ex­hi­bi­tion’ ar­eas on shelves.”

“Both Jon and I love go­ing to bro­cantes and car boots. He loves find­ing a bar­gain.” “Don’t be afraid to mix tex­tures – wo­ven wall hang­ings, throws and macramé.”

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