India Knight's pink palace: at home with the author

The tragedy for novelist India Knight is that Kinky Pink paint is out of production. Katie Law visits her Chalk Farm home
Author India Knight lives in a pink palace. She has devoted much time, energy and money to making the Regency terrace house in Chalk Farm that she shares with her three children, as comfortable as possible and loves it with a passion - "Nearly as much as I love my family," she says.

The 45-year-old novelist, who has also written two shopping guides, has transformed what was a bog-standard, white and-magnolia-walled interior into a twinkling pink fairyland. Even the exterior of the stuccoed house has been painted saccharine pink.

'I like the glow pink gives and I like it to get up to in the morning. People look good in its light, it's flattering'

Inside there are glittering chandeliers in every room; prints and paintings on every wall, objects displayed on every surface, cushions for every sofa and piles of books on every shelf. There are no bare white spaces but a profusion of comfortable clutter that teeters on the edge of chaos.

"I'm very house-proud and attached to the concept of home," she says. "Building a giant nest is incredibly important as I spend a lot of time here. I don't understand people who aren't interested in the way their home looks. I'm also very attached to stuff. But I think that has something to do with having had a mouvemente childhood. I lived in Brussels with my mother who decorated our apartment there in minimalist décor. Later we lived in a lot of other houses like that."

Knight's mother, Sabiha Rumana Malik, separated from her father, Michel Aertsens, when Knight was only two years old and went on to marry Andrew Knight - from whom India took her surname - before being briefly married to architect Norman Foster.

India Knight's home
Never knowingly understated, Knight has "gone off" department stores now that every table and shelf is crammed with objects
"I'm not comfortable with content being hidden behind lots of white doors. I'd rather there was mess. I feel much more comfortable with that. I like ethnic and the 'I've been to Marrakech several times look', while being aware that it's also slightly comical.

"Another big influence comes from having spent so much time when I was little with my mother in India and Pakistan - all those bright colours, low seating and warm yellow lighting. I love flowers: real flowers, plastic flowers and the gaudiness of it all. I like things that are pretty but a bit too bright because, to my mind, it's the right level of brightness," continues Knight, who is as effusive in speech as she is as a home decorator.

Knight's three children are two teenage sons, Oscar and Archie, from her marriage to Jeremy Langmead - and a daughter, Nell, who is now seven, from her relationship with author Andrew O'Hagan. Langmead, formerly editor of Esquire magazine and now editor-in-chief of men's fashion website Mr Porter, lives two doors down, while O'Hagan - a novelist and former film critic of the London Evening Standard, lives in nearby Belsize Park. She says they all get along well and spend many Sunday lunches and every Christmas round the kitchen table chez Knight.

Her latest novel, Comfort And Joy, out in paperback this month, offers a fictional and highly comic portrayal of the extended family in all its dysfunctional glory, spending Christmas together.

While daughter Nell obviously adores the intensely feminine décor her mother has created, the boys seem comfortable living with it, too. "Oh yes, the boys are very happy, they've always had a pink kitchen," says Knight. "I've painted my kitchens for 20 years in the same John Oliver Kinky Pink. It would never occur to me that I'd get an adverse reaction from my sons or male partners.

"I'm attracted to warm colours. When it's a really grotty day and getting dark by half-past three and raining, and the lights are on, I like the glow pink gives and I like it to get up to in the morning. People look good in its light, it's flattering."

Now the house is filled to bursting, Knight shops less than she used to. "I've gone off department stores - there's too much choice and when I go to Westfield, I'm briefly in a state of ecstasy, then a state of panic.

India Knight living room
The pink décor adored by Knight's seven-year-old daughter Nell. The author's two teenage sons have known nothing else
"I prefer those little shops in Shoreditch run by individuals that sell stuff I know I'm going to like. I like ferreting things out at places like Kempton market and I'm devoted to junk shops that I find at weekends away or in parts of London I don't know.

"It's all such a sharp contrast to myself, say, 15 years ago when I would have bought something brand-new and beautiful from Selfridges. I take very little pleasure in that anymore. It's just stopped being glamorous, that degree of luxe and ostentation."

Knight, who is an avid tweeter, has also discovered that Twitter can be a useful source for tracking things down. Last Christmas she was desperate to find a particular toy for her daughter that had sold out everywhere, but she finally found one after tweeting about it. "Twitter is also great for pop-up restaurants in London, supper clubs and things of the moment that are more interesting than going anywhere superposh."

Knight is also a domestic goddess in the kitchen, as is clear from all her smart appliances and stacks of well-thumbed cookery books. She has just begun writing a new novel, Mutton, due out next October, about women ageing and has herself had Botox several times, though she insists she feels "very chipper" about growing older.

Her main sadness appears to be that John Oliver, maker of Kinky Pink paint, is no longer in business.

Comfort And Joy, by India Knight, Penguin, £7.99

Photographs by Simon Maxwell

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