My design London: Charlie Marshall

Charlie Marshall founder of The Sleep Room opens up his secret London address book to Katie Law
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Charlie Marshall
© Adrian Lourie
Lack of sleep led Charlie to start The Sleep Room
Charlie Marshall, 37, founded The Sleep Room in 2008 to sell beds online after he was unable to find a comfortable bed at an affordable price.

He began by selling a limited range of just 12 beds and one type of mattress. Today he has an annual £7 million turnover, is about to launch a collection of sofas, soft furnishings, lighting and home acccessories, and will change the company name to Loaf later this year.

Where I live

My wife Melissa and I live in Mapesbury, which is where West Hampstead, Willesden, Cricklewood and Queens Park meet. It's got the same vibe that the Notting Hill of my childhood had — the beautiful houses with their enormous gardens have an air of faded grandeur and there is a nice community spirit. We have a door at the end of our garden that gives on to a communal garden, Mapesbury Dell. It's perfect for our children Horace, two and a half, and Minna, eight months.

Favourite piece of home memorabilia

At 24, I opened Primal Soup, a soup factory based in Park Royal that supplied clients such as Pret A Manger and Pizza Express. With the first pay cheque I went out and bought a beautiful mid-20th century Swedish sideboard from a now defunct antiques shop. When I met my wife it was the one item we both loved and it is now an indispensable part of our everyday life, where the glue and sticky tape are kept. We call it "the Swedish facility".

Favourite colours for the home

I only ever use paints by The Little Greene Paint Company as I like subtle shades of off-white, grey and beige, of which I think they are the masters. They are incredibly easy colours to live with and especially soothing in the bedroom. Neutral shades on the walls also allow you to inject shots of colour more easily, for example a rug from the Rug Company or a Nikki Jones cushion.

Fiona McDonald
Italian style: a cupboard sourced in Venice by Fiona McDonald

My secret shop

Fiona McDonald is my secret weapon for unusual Thirties and Forties furniture, which she sources from Venice. She makes regular trips out there and finds stunning sideboards and bronze-framed mirrors, which I think are still an untapped trend although they are insanely expensive. (Fiona McDonald, 97 Munster Road, SW6;

How do you get a good night's sleep

You're asking the wrong person. Part of the reason I started The Sleep Room was because I'm a terrible sleeper. Over the years I've tried port, sleeping tablets, all sorts, but I still tend to lie awake with the lights out for anything up to 40 minutes, thinking and wrestling with problems. I am told the answer is not being troubled by the concept of sleep because the more you worry about it, the harder it is.

Most interesting new designer

The textile designer Emily Burningham (, the daughter of children's book illustrators John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury, could become a household name. Her style has a timeless elegance, and I particularly love her Sailboats design.

Favourite museum

The Science Museum. Although it has been modernised it still gives me the same thrill as 30 years ago. My son loves the spaceships and it makes me proud of London that it's still free.

Favourite restaurant

Dock Kitchen on the canal in Portobello. Chef Stevie Parle started it as a pop-up restaurant in Tom Dixon's industrial-feeling headquarters and it soon became a permanent fixture (

Hrair Sarkissian
Landscape photographer Hrair Sarkissian

Coveted design object

A photograph by Hrair Sarkissian (right), who recently exhibited at Tate Modern. He takes beautifully moody shots of run-down land and cityscapes in places such as Armenia and Syria. They are breathtaking.

Best London market

I was born at the top of Portobello Road (or "the Lane" as old-school locals call it) so I am biased. My favourite part is the northern part along Golborne Road where I regularly have lunch on a plastic stool at one of the roadside grilled Moroccan fish tents. It's a fine place to see Marrakech-style driving and well-priced furniture.

The place I like to escape to

Mapesbury Dell, the communal space at the end of our garden. Five years ago it was full of crack addicts so Brent council and the local residents got together to transform it into a nature reserve complete with kids' pirate ship. It's a brilliant example of people power injecting life into an area and my son Horace loves it.

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