Skye McAlpine of the food blog From My Dining Table lives in London with her husband, Anthony, and their almost-four-year-old son, Aeneas. Over the past six years, she’s turned the once run-down Victorian apartment into a elegant space that’s made for entertaining. Take a peek inside (you can almost smell something delicious coming out of the oven)…
On fixing up the space: When we first moved in, the Victorian flat was quite run down and higgledy piggledy. The floors are slanted and the doors a bit crooked, but I like that. We also love the big windows, since the rooms get amazing light. We’re on a busy street in South London full of restaurants and coffee shops.
Dining table and chairs: vintage. Chandelier: vintage. Table lamp: Anglepoise.
On casual entertaining: We love having people over — we’ll do a Saturday or Sunday roast, and our friends will bring their friends. The living room is right off the kitchen, so it’s a great open space to hang out. It’s much more intimate and relaxed than going to a bar or restaurant — especially if you have children. I find that people stay longer, too. At a restaurant, everyone leaves after the meal, but at home we serve coffee and wine after and people stay late and chat.
On bigger parties: I love cooking for loads of people, so I’m very happy when we have an excuse to celebrate something. For my husband’s last birthday, we had about 20 people over and I made slow-roasted pork. (You just shove it in the oven for 12 hours.) My husband loves Pavlova, so I made with one with dark chocolate and one with berries. For my son’s fourth birthday, we cleared out all the furniture in the living room, so the kids could just run around and eat cake.
On spices: My husband always jokes, “This is ridiculous, why do you need so much flour?” He doesn’t really get it, but sometimes you need different flour for things! I’ve got plain flour, the really fine Italian 00 flour, self-raising flour, cornmeal flour, buckwheat, strong bread flour and gluten-free if I’m baking for friends who don’t eat gluten — and they’re all labeled on the bottom. When it comes to spices, I use a lot of cinnamon because it’s so warm.
On hanging out in the kitchen: When I’m cooking, Aeneas loves to be involved, especially if I’m making pie and he can play with some dough. I have horrible taste in music and basically love 80s pop, but my husband used to play the piano, so he’ll usually put on classical music.
On go-to meals: When it’s just the three of us, we eat quite simply — mostly pasta and fish. Aeneas has always been a great eater, so that helps. He loves artichoke hearts, which are a special treat. He loves pasta with pesto. We have a tiny, tiny terrace with a tiny, tiny BBQ. My husband will make steaks or lamb chops with a salad.
Sofa, coffee table and chair: vintage. Pink and white pillow: H&M.
On vintage pieces: We have lots of furniture from flea markets and charity shops. Our building is so old that it didn’t seem right to fight against that! I was raised in Venice, Italy, and I love that our chandeliers are from the Venetian glass factories — we found them at a flea market, so they’re slightly chipped. My father was a great collector, and our home felt like a cabinet of curiosities. I think that I’ve inherited a love of quirky clutter from him.
On flowers and fruits: Every week or two, I’ll go to the flower market for whatever’s in season. The flowers last longer and are cheaper. Roses last longer, too. I also like putting out bowls of fruit. We obviously eat the fruit as we go along, and when it gets down to the end, I’ll make a crumble or cake.
Gold mirror: vintage. Green pillows: House of Hackney.
On mood boards: I have two pin boards up in the living room for inspiration. I will pin up recipes with great flavors, ones that were shot really well or just beautiful imagery. They are constantly changing and evolving. Magazines are wonderful, but don’t like them gathering in stacks around the house. So, I will buy one and read it right away, tear out all the inspiring pages, pin them on the board, and then get rid of it. I like Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Wine, Vogue and Cherry Bombe.
On blankets: Whenever my mom asks what she should get us for Christmas, I always ask for a rug or blanket. I really love everything to be cozy. Because I work from home, it’s important that this is a calming space and a refuge from the city. I find London to be quite manic and overwhelming, so I wanted the house to feel warm, welcoming and soothing.
On wallpaper: Wallpaper instantly gives character and warmth to a room. I chose a French toile print for our bedroom. Pink is my favorite color, I find it very soothing. We used to live in a tiny studio, which had a pink fridge and kitchen counters. My husband has gotten quite used to the pink thing.
Pineapple lamp: House of Hackney.
On birds: The bird prints above our bed came from a book on parrots that my dad gave us years ago for Christmas. My husband loves birds and wildlife. We thought they were so beautiful that it was a shame they were all in a book where no one could see them, so we framed four of them.
Pillows: Volga Linen. Blankets: knitted by a friend.
On trees: I saw this tree wallpaper at a friend’s house and fell completely in love with it. I wanted something that Aeneas would like, but that wasn’t obviously childish. I thought it was really magical for a little boy’s bedroom because it felt very Robin Hood.
On reading together: My son loves playing at his work bench in his room and has tons of Legos. We also read a lot of books together. He loves Peter Rabbit, Thomas the Tank Engine and anything about dinosaurs. I am kind of longing for him to be a bit older, so we can read Harry Potter and the books I loved when I was younger.
Thank you so much, Skye! Your home is so beautiful.