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Home visit: a curious collector’s happy hideaway

On a London side street is an old garage door, its black paint peeling in a nod to its age. Behind the door is an unexpected find – the sustainably renovated home of Ashlyn Gibson. The interiors stylist has turned her love for gathering objects into a visually exciting, eclectic home, designed for family life. Take a look!

A warehouse-style living room with brick walls, fireplace, parquet floor, blue sofa and footstool, coffee table and plants.
A warehouse-style living room with brick walls, fireplace, parquet floor, blue sofa and footstool, coffee table and plants.

Never-ending story

Patience. The word to describe Ashlyn, her partner Matthew and teen daughter Olive’s journey home. “It took time to find this place and we lived in it for a year before renovating,” says Ashlyn. “Most of us want our home to be perfect yesterday! For me it’s organic and ongoing. Figure out what matters to you then take time making it. For us it’s a mix of old, new, beautiful – things with a story.”

We wanted a flexible space. Matthew’s a theatre director so it’s good for him to have rehearsal space. I’m a stylist so it’s good for me to have a place to do shoots. Our dream was an adaptable space that we could use communally and socially.

Ashlyn

Welcome the world to your table

“We’ve made a space that encourages togetherness. We don’t have a TV but we have our table. And we tend to cook and serve meals in a way that brings everyone to the table. We don’t plate up individual portions, we serve the food up in big dishes, put in the middle of the table for us all to share.”

Mix, match and help yourself

Hosting gatherings was key to Ashlyn and Matthew’s plan for their home. “We wanted a communal spirit. It helps that downstairs is open-plan but you can be open in other ways – open shelves so guests can help themselves, dining tables that open out to seat more, extra chairs stacked in the corner, piles of crockery in a mix of styles and colours so there’s no limit to how many can join the meal.”

There’s a world of influence in our home. Usually when people do up a warehouse, they say it’s industrial or it’s minimal but our biggest influence – especially in the kitchen – is Japan where you find lots of dark wood and blue and white ceramics.

Ashlyn

A woman with long grey hair, wearing pink-rimmed glasses, a blue top and red jeans leans against a kitchen worktop smiling.

Personal interest

How do you turn a blank canvas into a home? “Make it as personal as you can,” says Ashlyn. “And making your home personal is cheap because it’s about kids’ drawings, postcards, maps, a snow globe, things from your travels or that you’ve inherited. They’re things you don’t really think about but that’s where the specialness comes from – things that hold memories.”

I kind of follow my own path. As a stylist you see a lot of trends but the biggest influence on your home should be your passions. When I was 12, I bought paint for my bedroom. I was into 70s stuff so I painted it chocolate brown and orange!

Ashlyn

Collect the pieces of your story

“It’s nice for a space to evolve and collect things over time – your home is telling your story. I’ve always collected. When I was Olive’s age, I collected chopsticks and badges. I’ve also collected globes, busts, Murano glass… A lot got lost along the way and putting this place together, I really edited myself but there’s always space on a cabinet top, table or shelf for a display of curios.”

What is home? Well, this is my daughter’s school. It’s also a space that’s been used for photoshoots, it’s been used for parties and as a retreat. For me, home is a space that’s designed to be shared. It’s somewhere to bring people together.

Ashlyn

Recharging station

“I’m mum to a teen, which is full-on. I run a kids’ store and I’ve just opened a new shop called Bless that’s about considered buying and working with social enterprises. I’d love to be zen and do yoga every night, but that’s not me. I’m chaotic, no day is typical! It is possible to find stillness in the frenzy. Those quiet corners where you can sit and reflect, even for five minutes, are vital.”

We’re quite rough round the edges. We’re not minimalists or mega design conscious but we have a way we put things together – the richness of old things, the interest in the tiles and the dark wood. We don’t want it pristine.

Ashlyn

Escape room

“This home is about sharing, but it’s also an escape and we’ve designed it in a way that you feel you could be anywhere when you’re in here. On a warm day, you could believe you’re in a Balinese spa – the wood, the plants, small touches like the rolled-up towels. It’s no accident that you don’t know where in the world you are when you step into our bathroom – that’s the art of escape!”

Make the useful beautiful

Home doesn’t have to be either/or – it can appeal to your head as much as your heart. “Be beautifully organised,” says Ashlyn. “Open storage is my thing – the beauty of it is that you can display everything you have. It adds an element of joy to the most ordinary tasks. Getting ready at the bathroom sink, dressing in the bedroom, your gaze may fall on a treasured trinket and it makes you smile.”

On summer mornings, our treat is to lie on our bed with the doors open. At the end of a day, Matthew and I will look at each other and joke: ‘shall we go up a loft?’ Then we come up here and just hang out because it’s such a beautiful, cosy space.

Ashlyn

A woman puts a blue throw on a bed with purple tie-dye bedding, in a wood panelled bedroom with large woven ceiling light.