A long, long time ago in the early Noughties, before children, before journalism - even before the Pink House Husband, I worked in advertising. To be precise, I worked for one of the hottest ad agencies in London: Bartle Bogle Hegarty. It had an achingly hip Soho office, incredible clients (Levi's, Audi, Johnnie Walker...) and some of the hottest advertising creatives in the entire world, none of whom were me. Nope; I was a suit-wearing, bag-carrying account manager who watched the creatives from behind the glass of their skateboard-filled offices, desperately wishing I was one of them. I wanted to spend all day in Twisted Seam jeans and odd socks, being paid to test the latest products and come up with witty one-liners. Instead, I schmoozed Unilever clients, presented adverts for margarine and sat at the edge of meetings, taking notes.
But of all the creatives, there was one I couldn't take my eyes off. With her spiked bleach blonde hair, cool af clothes and give-no-fucks attitude, Laurie was one of only a couple of girls in the creative department. I didn't want to be just any creative. I wanted to be HER.
Luckily for Laurie, this is not a stalking story (despite the fact that we were both poached by a rival agency and ended up working on the Tango account together - here is the visual evidence of how THAT ended: yes - I was well and truly Tango'd), because although I continued to be in awe of Laurie's all-round coolness and creativity, my interest in advertising waned, replaced by a burning desire to become a lifestyle journalist, which is what I went on to do.
It was about 13 years before our paths crossed again. I was looking at various blog layouts and formats as part of my research into setting up The Pink House, when a familiar face filled my laptop screen. Laurie, I discovered, had not only hit the big time as Creative Director for a top London agency, but had also started a fashion blog: there she was in cowboy boots and a sequinned skirt, still giving zero fucks.
I followed her blog for a while, picking up fashion tips as I went. Until one day she announced the creation of her fashion brand, Laurie Lee Leather, which involved giving vintage leather jackets a rebellious typographical makeover. As a lover of leather jackets, typography and being a bit bad, I knew I needed one, and finally bought my favourite: Ride It Like You Stole It.
Since then, and in an incredibly short amount of time, Laurie Lee Leather has gone stratospheric. The jackets are now made to order especially for the brand, and stocked in Selfridges, no less. The brand has been featured in numerous publications, including Vogue and Grazia, and worn by celebrities from Ruby Rose to Parris Goebel. Told you Laurie was cool.
Given that introduction, I imagine you'd rather like to see inside Laurie's extraordinary house, which she describes as "Norman Bates meets Abigail Ahern"? Course you would. Luckily, when she's not trying to drown people in orange juice, Laurie is as lovely as she is talented, and agreed to exclusively offer us a tour of her North London home, as long as I promised to stop stalking her. Are you ready? Let's go! (Credits at the end of the post).
EM: Hey Laurie! If I promise not to be weird, please can you show me and The Pink House's guests around your home? I think you owe me one for waterboarding me with Tango anyway..
LL: I am a terrible human being! Karma will get me for that I know it....So...my husband and I live in a Georgian townhouse in Camden close to the Stables Market. It’s three-bed house directly opposite the most photographed road in the area – Kelly Street. I was quite jealous of the pretty little pastel houses when we first moved here two years ago, until I realised there isn’t a single day that a blogger/model/random shoot is happening there! I’m quite glad I don’t live on the street now.
EM: What’s the biggest change you’ve made to the place?
LL: I suppose the paint scheme we chose is the most dramatic. We went for dark colours throughout the ground floor. We also knocked down the old dated 80s extension and rebuilt it so it’s more in-keeping with the house. We have so many debates about this and we now wish we had gone for huge industrial doors and a more stripped back look. Thankfully it’s something we’ll never be arsed to change now!
EM: Which is your favourite room? Most treasured item? Why?
LL: I think my studio is probably my favourite because I spend so much time in there. I try to cover the walls in interesting objects and my own work so it’s always changing. That way I don’t get bored; I get bored very easily! We actually knocked two bedrooms together to create my studio and built up into the eaves so it has a nice double height so the jackets can hang high up the walls.
EM: And your most treasured item?
LL: Probably the ballet shoes that belonged to the late great Margot Fonteyn. I also own her personal photo collection. They feel like objects that come with a huge responsibility to look after them. I’ll probably loan them for display somewhere this year so they can be enjoyed by more people. I’m also just too terrified they’ll get damaged here.
EM: What would you most like to change?
LL: I want to change everything. It’s a good job I don’t have the time or I’d constantly have the toolbox out. Currently the projects in the pipeline are: new kitchen fit out (all in F&B Railings and stainless steel), a new master bathroom, and repainting the front of the house in a dark grey like Railings. I like dark a lot.
I’m also quite excited about wallpapering the five flights of stairs in a bold banana leaf wallpaper. Though this is TBC until I can get the husband on board! He is not as keen on some of the bolder prints as I am.
EM: I know the feeling...So who or what inspires your interior style? I’m guessing Abigail Ahern is among your influences with those dark walls?
LL: I think the best way to describe the is house is Norman Bates meets Abigail Ahern. There is a lot of taxidermy and dark colours. But I really like mismatched things that are thrown together. I love a bargain eBay chair reupholstered in an interesting fabric. Strange found objects. We have flowers made from human bones, a Siamese chick in a belljar, pickled lizards and creepy painted dolls heads that we found in a shop in New Orleans. 'Things that look like they might be cursed' is how my husband describes my taste. And whilst I do like slightly odd macabre objects, I don’t want the house to feel too gothic. I’m not actually gothy at all. I like to add plants and bright colours to keep it quite contemporary. It’s the main reason I colour coded the bookcase, to add a pop of colour and complement the patchwork Squint sofa.
EM: Is your study/workshop part of your house? Does it inspire your jacket designs, or vice versa? Why is it white when the rest of your house is dark?
LL: My studio is the top floor of the house so It’s nice and bright. It was definitely a conscious decision to keep the upstairs really bright and light as a contrast to the darker ground floor. I think with so many jackets and framed prints on the walls in the studio I wanted it to feel more like a gallery where the items on display are key, without a bold colour or wallpaper stealing their thunder. Being surrounded by an archive of the designs I’ve created definitely helps me to create new things. It’s much easier to work out a new look or style when you can see what you’ve created before.
EM: It looks like you're quite into taxidermy?
LL: I am a taxidermy obsessive. I love the more contemporary pieces by Harriet Horton and Polly Morgan the most. I also chose Aynhoe Park as our wedding venue purely for the epic taxidermy collection there and I think this has inspired me to grow mine.
EM: What was the first piece you acquired?
LL: A huge grey squirrel holding a custom-made toy gold machine gun. I love adding odd little things to all of my bigger pieces – the monkey has a little miniature Fez, the deer mounts have floral crowns, bow ties or diamante chokers and the wild boar’s head has an apple in its mouth. I appreciate this makes me sounds like a freak, but I just like to personalise everything around me I think! I’m actually a very normal boring person really!
EM: Any tips on where to source taxidermy?
LL: I always go to Get Stuffed in Islington for the best taxidermy. It means you know that it has all of the correct paperwork and the animals come from zoos when they die of old age or of natural causes. We actually had our wedding list there too!
EM: Can you tell me a bit about the art in your home, both the graffitied and non-graffitied works (LOVE the cock tease one)?
LL: I try to keep the art throughout the house quite fun/rude. It’s mostly reproduction framed canvas prints that I paint slogans over. They’re usually just slogans that make us both laugh – particularly when a neighbour stops by and spots them for the first time. It’s not everyone’s taste but it usually elicits a smile or something from most people. Some are antique oil paintings of landscapes that I’ve painted little monsters onto too. Honestly I don’t know why, I just know they make great gifts for my husband at Christmas; he loves them.
EM: Any interior design tips?
LL: Clashing is good. You can never have too many books. Abigail Ahern artificial plants are the best things in the world.
EM: Best piece of fashion advice?
LL: I’m not sure I’m qualified to give anyone advice on fashion as I mostly just wear chef pants ( my husband will not be seen anywhere with me in these) but I guess I would say just dress for you and no one else.
EM: What does your husband think of your home? Does he get a say?
LL: We usually have similar ideas as we do have the same taste thankfully. Although it took me a year to get him on board with the colour coded books but now he loves it. I suggested we try it knowing full well that if he did hate it he’d never be arsed to put it all back. I think that’s how I get away with most of the things I end up dong in the house! He does occasionally have some shocking ideas though – such as getting a large birdcage to use as a dog crate as he hates how ugly the crate is. Thankfully the doors on birdcages are tiny (they’re for birds?!) so this isn’t feasible at all. Phew. Though I caught him looking for ‘birdcage with large door’ on Google last night...
EM: Thanks so much Laurie. I'll leave you alone now...
- Paint - Abigail Ahern Rivington Blue
- Sofa - custom-made by Squint
- Plants - Abigail Ahern
- Taxidermy – various including Get Stuffed
- Black chair – vintage eBay find repainted and reupholstered by David Scotcher Islington.
- Green & gold chair – Made.com
- Matt black glass and gold coffee table – Wayfair.com
- Gold geometric side table – Rockett St George
- Peacock lamp shade – Etsy.com
- Floor lamp base - Heals
- Birdcage table and ceiling lamp - Volières at The Conran Shop
- Candles - Cire Trudo, Spiritus sacti "smells like a real church"
- Paints - Farrow & Ball Railings and Downpipe
- Zinc dining table - Habitat
- Vintage industrial chairs - Ebay
- Tripod light – Castle Gibson
- Canvas art prints – National gallery
- Antlers – eBay
- Antler chair – eBay
- Upcycled writing desk painted in Railings – eBay