There is also a Polaroid selfie of Fellowes with Paris Hilton — signed by the hotel heiress.
Fellowes, 35, lives in Kensal Rise, and in New York. In London, her Victorian terrace house is painted outside in a hip, New York grey. When I meet her she is just off the red-eye, but her lips are painted chilli red and she’s in black Alaia leggings and Yohji jumper. “They’re just aeroplane clothes,” she says, puffing on an e-cigarette. She dresses even more glamorously for the photographer.
Mary Fellowes' My Home
Mary Fellowes' My Home
Fellowes transformed the neglected “gloomy Victorian parlour” into a West Village-style townhouse with a slick of New York grey paint on the exterior.
By exposing joists and brickwork, Fellowes and her builder (borrowed from Kirstie Allsopp) have given the modern kitchen an airy and rustic feel.
The pine for the kitchen cabinets originated from a former cheese factory – resulting in the characteristic circular marks left by the aging cheeses.
The fur draped sofa in the kitchen pays testament to Fellowes’ self-coined fur obsession that began during her time as fashion director for Turkish Vogue.
The cosy, bohemian sitting room combines theatrical design pieces with furniture “rummaged from the attic of Castle Hill”, her family’s ancestral seat in North Devon.
Fellowes’ home acts as a cabinet of curiosities, housing mysterious life-size silver Skulls from Bali and resin lamps reminiscent of giant walnuts.
The kitchen combines factory-style textures, featuring a car-park concrete floor and salvaged oak refectory table (once belonging to Ronnie Wood) and exposed brick to create a Manhattan loft style entertaining space.
Sage coloured carpet and putty-pink walls - painted in cross-drag paint to mimic silk - helped Fellowes to complete her Claridge’s suite inspired bedroom at a fraction of the price.
“Everything is reclaimed and recycled” in the house, that mixes antiques with modern fittings, as well as colours, textures and fabrics to give it its unique, eclectic and stylish feel.
Different corners of the house display evidence from Fellowes’ successful career as a celebrity stylist. The dramatic curtains in her bedroom were made for her by the in-house upholsterer at Pinewood Studios.
Fellowes has worked for Vogue magazine around the world and has also dressed actresses Liv Tyler, Claire Danes and Amy Adams. Her childhood and adult lives meet cheerfully in her idiosyncratically characterful home with its rustic Manhattan kitchen and country house sitting room containing “pieces rummaged from the attic of Castle Hill”, the family’s ancestral seat in North Devon.
The Kensal Rise house was a rather less cheery place when Fellowes bought it in 2009. It hadn’t been touched for 50 years by its previous owner, she says, and was “like a gloomy Victorian parlour”. Fellowes set about gutting the place with her friend Kirstie Allsopp’s builder. “Only the staircase remained.”
She spent £200,000 doing it up. She converted the loft and extended the kitchen over the side and back returns, cleverly copying the existing joists and leaving them visible. She exposed the kitchen wall, “and made them re-point it four times to get the right grey”.
A powered concrete floor at £6,000 was out of the question. “So I did a car park floor with a self-levelling compound that won’t crack even if cars roll over it.” It cost her £600 and looks fabulous.
Her work life is evident everywhere. There’s a rail of vintage coats in the sitting room from a fashion shoot. “All my photos come from shoots I’ve styled or photographer colleagues,” she says. Even the bathroom looks like a Chanel shoebox in buttermilk and ebony, with black grouting between the New York subway-style tiles.
When Fellowes was Turkish Vogue’s fashion director, she went “fur-mad in Istanbul”. One fur throw — stylishly backed with silver fabric — is draped over her kitchen sofa. “My latest discovery is irresistible cushions from Geraldine Larkin who designs couture fabrics for Prada and all the top fashion houses.”
Fellowes adds: “Everything is reclaimed and recycled — apart from the paints.” Think antique taps to Victorian loos and beds. There’s a Brazilian chair covered in shredded, tatty fibres. “I love that it looks like a yeti.” Her desk is a shower screen atop an old door. The kitchen cabinets are particularly charming — pine planks from a demolished cheese factory. “See those circles on the front of them?” she asks. “They’re marks from ageing cheese.”
Everywhere, she has made silk purses from sows’ ears. Take her Thirties-style bedroom. “I wanted a holistic hotel suite, like Claridge’s.” It has sage carpet and putty-pink walls. “I couldn’t afford silk, so a friend did cross-drag paint on it, which looks like silk.”
The room’s theatrical curtains — “Colefax fabric alongside £8-a-metre Shepherd’s Bush market material” — were made reasonably by the in-house upholsterer at Pinewood Studios. “He’d ring and say, ‘Sorry, just doing them when I’ve finished something for Keira Knightley and Anna Karenina.’”
Fellowes’s uncle, Sir Robert Fellowes, was private secretary to the Queen and brother-in-law of Princess Diana — but his niece is more bohemian. “I live in a community of four creatives,” she declares of her four-bedroom house. And the other three? “There’s a hotel designer, Louis, the polymath, and Martin the Argentinian chef. Martin is opening Una, a one-table restaurant in the St Pancras clock tower.”
When they are not brainstorming around Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood’s salvaged oak refectory table or “having group therapy”, she says, laughing, they are throwing riotous, impromptu parties. It must be a hoot — Fellowes is game, fantastical and wickedly funny.
As I leave, I glance again at her sitting room with its resin lamps that look like giant walnuts, the salvaged Deco mirrored chests and lifesize silver skulls that she “picked up in Bali”.
There’s a menu from a dinner with the Duke of York at Royal Lodge, plus a photo of her as a baby with her nanny, Jean Smith. “I was her last charge,” Fellowes reveals. “She went on to present Nanny Knows Best.” Everything in the house tells a story. And good ones at that.
Photographs: David Butler