Jo Berryman loves change. "I need momentum and I need to be changing, constantly moving things on, having something interesting to aim for."
Her gorgeous late-Victorian Hampstead home reflects the former fashion stylist's boundless curiosity — not to mention a well-honed magpie eye.
The four-storey property has a kitchen and snug in the basement, an open-plan living room/office space, loo and small library room on the ground floor, a bed/bath/dressing room suite on the first floor, and two bedrooms and a bathroom on the top floor. There is also a small courtyard garden.
Jo runs an events styling consultancy and is also a yoga teacher and single mother to daughter Nico, two, whose father is Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman.
She bought the house in 2007 after she and Guy divorced.
"I fell in love with its bare bones, as well as the location — it's handy for Hampstead Heath," she says. "I love that the doors are crooked and the floorboards creak — I think that sort of thing gives a home personality."
But Jo wanted to stamp her own style on the house, too. So the first job of the year-long project was to sort out the structure. "I decided to sacrifice a bedroom and knock through to monopolise the whole first floor for myself. Extremely indulgent, I know, but I love 'luxe' living and wanted space for my clothes and things."
Jo's huge bedroom — with its walk-through wardrobe, freestanding bathtub and bespoke display area for her shoe collection — is a girl's dream.
Decadent space achieved, Jo repainted throughout in various shades of white to keep the house fresh and modern. "I wanted a clean backdrop so I could dot all my stuff around and show it at its best," she says. "My thinking all the time has been to create a sense of contemporary chic, but to marry that with my easy-going, relaxed lifestyle."
The sitting room showcases some dramatic pieces, such as the huge Vivienne Westwood Union Jack rug hung as art, and a Damien Hirst skull painting, complete with glittering teeth. "I really like to champion British design," says Jo.
"I love mixing a refined and feminine sensibility with unexpected dashes of "hard-arsed" stuff. My current obsession is skulls. I think they're macabre but beautiful."
The basement kitchen/snug is the heart of the home, and everyone gravitates there. The simple white and stainless steel galley kitchen at one end gives way to a relaxing area with a chesterfield and comfy chairs. Jo says: "I wanted definite compartmentalisation — a family space to flop down in and have a cup of tea, so that the kitchen doesn't monopolise the room."
Bright-red, feathery pampas grass plumes sit alongside objets and votive candles on the mantelpiece, while oblique shelves display a treasure trove of books. Hallway walls are festooned with modern art and photographs, most of the latter by Guy Berryman, a keen photographer. A tiny room off the ground-floor landing contains a mini library painted in very bold Farrow & Ball Rectory Red. "I think small spaces can take loud colours."
So, given her penchant for variety, does Jo have plans for more changes? "I'm going to extend into the attic space at some point, and perhaps cre-ate a sun roof. Right now, though, the priority is getting a runner on the stairs. I like the distressed look, but it's so noisy without one. I'm thinking of going for a real departure, like pillar-box red..."
Photographs: PAUL MASSEY
Styling: MARY WEAVER
* For more about Jo Berryman’s consultancy, visit www.matrushka.co.uk
* The full version of this article appears in the April issue of Livingetc, out now.
To view Jo Berryman’s house and gain exclusive access to 14 other London homes like it, join Livingtetc’s house tours – The North London Tour (March 16, 2012) or the West London Tour (March 23, 2012). Tickets are £25 from www.housetohome.co.uk/livingetc