Food writer Skye McAlpine’s London home is a feast of ice-cream shades and vintage treasures – with the light, bright kitchen at its heart.
Neapolitan ice cream may not seem an obvious decoration scheme. But it was the starting point for Skye McAlpine’s South London home, where she lives with her husband Anthony and their two sons Aeneas, seven, and Achille, one.
It explains the pink striped curtains on either side of the floor-to-ceiling windows which flood midsummer light into her kitchen, its walls painted in uplifting yellow shades (Dayroom Yellow and Citron by farrow-ball.com) and a mustard Smeg fridge. ‘I want to feel cosy,’ she beams, and feeling cosy means being reminded of Venice, where she grew up from the age of six.
The Victorian house that Skye moved into – days after giving birth to Achille – has the same relaxed feel as her previous London flat. For the renovations, Skye turned to her friend, interior architect Ben Pentreath, because they both agree that the best sort of homes are the ones that are lived in. ‘He just got it, as well as my love of colour. I like how laid-back Ben is and that he sees as much joy in a £100 Ebay chest of drawers as he would in something bespoke.’
Not surprisingly, Skye had very specific ideas as to how her kitchen should look. On one side of the room is a large dresser found in the Brussels Rue Blaes market, lined with paper by French interior designer Antoinette Poisson. The copper moulds that adorn one of the walls – which Skye uses to make jellies and pannacotta – were another great Belgian find and chime with the Ruffoni pans hanging over her cherished range oven by renowned French brand Lacanche. Trestle tables extend her dining table to comfortably seat 30.
Skye’s second cookbook, A Table for Friends (published last month by Bloomsbury) was a two-year labour of love which explores the sort of effortless but no less delicious food she loves making when friends come round for dinner. Mostly these are meals that don’t involve much cooking but assembling a few ingredients on a pretty plate.
Burrata served with a few slivers of preserved lemon and a drizzle of golden olive oil is a favourite during summer months. ‘It looks beautiful, tastes wonderfully indulgent and takes all of five minutes to make,’ she says. Skye finds that a simple way to decorate the table is with bowls filled bountifully with fresh seasonal fruit (right now, cherries, peaches and apricots) – a lot less wasteful than flowers. Otherwise plenty of tapered candles.
Skye feels most content pottering in her bright, sunny kitchen – cooking or listening to a podcast. ‘We have a big armchair where Aeneas sits and reads or chats to me while I’m cooking – on a good day!’ This, she thinks, is ‘where happiness happens’.
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Interview: Carolyn Asome