Pearl Lowe: 'Decorating can be an expensive mistake if you don't listen to your gut'

portrait of pearl lowe at home
My Happy Home: Pearl LowePearl Lowe

As part of our interview series, My Happy Home, Pearl Lowe talks antique shopping, following your gut and her ADHD diagnosis.

Pearl Lowe is an English fashion and textiles designer, former singer-songwriter and author. She began her career in the 90s as the lead singer in Britpop band, Powder. She was part of the notorious Primrose Hill Set along with Kate Moss, Sadie Frost and Jude Law.

In 2001, she launched her eponymous vintage boutique, selling her signature range of lace curtains and cushions. Then, in 2006, Pearl moved from London to Somerset, where she began designing her own bespoke handmade dresses and childrenswear. She has also designed a capsule collection for high street retailer, Peacocks.

Pearl divides her time between Somerset and East Sussex, where she lives with her husband Danny Goffey, of the band Supergrass, and their three children, Alfie, Betty and Frankie. She also has an older daughter, model Daisy Lowe.

What makes you happiest at home?

PL: Cooking and having the kids at home. I just love baking, cooking and chatting. They are at that age where they're super opinionated and we can have debates. It's so fun, like having your mates here all the time. I'm the happiest when they're all home. That's my favourite part of being a mum and having a house that can home them all.

Tell us about your childhood home

PL: The other day I came across a picture of the house that I grew up in and it's so similar to the house that I'm in now. We grew up in a much older house — it was built in the 16th century. It was a north London home but on the outskirts of Hertfordshire. It was so beautiful, with a swimming pool and a tennis court, but also very old and enchanting. It's very similar to the house that I'm in now.

We had the front door left on the latch and my brother used to come over with all his friends. It was a very sociable house, which is kind of what I've created for myself here. It's a very similar setup. I've created the same house without realising it.

daisy and pearl lowe
Daisy Lowe (L) and Pearl Lowe (R)David M. Benett - Getty Images

When you get home what's the first thing you do?

PL: I work from home, so it's often coming in and making coffee, usually an oat latte. I'm addicted to coffee. I put my radio on or some music, feed the dog, and sit down at my computer. That's a typical day. We're so busy.

I don't have a PA at the moment, so I have to write lists of everything I need to do. I've just been diagnosed with ADHD, so it makes a lot of sense why I can't cope with all the things that are going on. There's just too much in my brain. I have to tick it all off.

What room do you spend most of your time in and how did you decorate this space?

PL: I spend most of my time in a room we call The Creative Room. It's at the back of the house and nobody really wanted it because it's quite cold. I painted it pink and green because they're my favourite colours. I got my carpenter, Steve, to make me some amazing old rails which I now use for costumes and items for sale. I also added a couple of armoires and lace curtains. It's so lovely in there now.

a creative corner in pearl's home
A creative corner in Pearl’s home Amy Neunsinger © CICO Books

I've got a big table in the middle where I work with my photographer, shooting everything for the website. We sit on this big, round table, talking about all the things we need to do – it's so lovely. Often, women email me asking if they can come and try on dresses because I don't have an outlet. I've got a little dressing room for them to use – I put curtains in there and a lovely big mirror, it's my studio.

My son, who is a DJ, left home when he was 18, but then came back in the pandemic because there were no gigs for him so things got quite tough. He moved back from London and said 'do you mind if I share the room with you?'. I said OK, and so he's got half of the room. He records on his little desk, we share it.

a mirror in pearl's home
A mirror in Pearl’s homeAmy Neunsinger © CICO Books

Describe the view outside your bedroom window

PL: The two girls, Daisy and Betty, have the most unbelievable view of rolling fields. It's just so beautiful. But my bedroom view is the driveway. It's lovely, but not the nicest view in the house. Betty's bedroom has the best sunset – sometimes I sit in there when she's not home. The view is insane.

pearl lowe's east sussex garden
Pearl’s East Sussex gardenPhotography by Dave Watts © CICO Books

What would we find in your bedside table?

PL: I've got a rose quartz crystal because I find it hard to sleep. I've also got a Martha Freud candle which Daisy got me, and a few other crystals from the kids. Annoyingly, the company aren't around anymore, but I've got Apothem, which is like CBD sleep oil.

Then in my drawers I've got the book which I'm currently reading, The Drummer and The Great Mountain by Michael Joseph Ferguson. It's all about ADHD. We rent our house out so I can't really have too much in the drawers. I might get an email saying someone is coming in three days' time, so I have to quickly pack everything up and leave it in locked cupboards.

We've recently decorated our bedroom using Benjamin Moore's Springfield Sage on the walls and wardrobes. It looks so nice. We've got a 1920s mirrored chest of drawers and art everywhere. We've got a Soho Home Manette Bed in green velvet, these mad circusy curtains, big Beauvamp lampshades with fringing on either side of the bed, and lots of Persian rugs. I love our bedroom so much.

portrait of pearl lowe at home
Pearl at home Pearl Lowe

What is the best decorating advice you have ever received?

PL: The best decorating advice I've ever received is do not listen to anyone. This is very important. Do not listen to your friends, this happens to me a lot. I often redecorate because I get quite bored. We've been in this house for seven years, we've never been in a house for that long, ever. I like to change things, which I also think is part of my ADHD.

I'm very lucky in my job because people offer me things quite a lot. But the best advice anyone has given me is just do not listen to anyone. Don't listen to your friends, your sons, your mum. Don't listen to anyone about colours or fabrics, just listen to your gut.

The times when I've decorated and it's gone hideously wrong are the times when a friend has come over and said 'I think you should do it like this'. I remember a friend saying I should paint my kitchen Brassica by Farrow & Ball. I cried when it arrived because it wasn't me. What colours do you love? If you go in your wardrobe and pick out the predominant colour, that's the colour you love. That's the colour you should have in your home. It can be a very expensive mistake if you don't listen to your own gut.

pearl lowe's beach kitchen designed by devol

What's the best home bargain you've ever snapped up?

PL: I'm sure I got something the other day that was really cheap. I do have quite a lot of bargains because I go to flea markets. I actually get a kick out of it when I pick something up really, really cheap. I got a chest of drawers for about £20. I could not believe it as they're normally £275. That was one of my big bargains at my local flea market.

We've got a beach house in East Sussex which has some fantastic vintage shops. Where I live in Somerset, we have the Shepton Flea Market, the Frome Flea Market & Craft Fair, and so many vintage shops as well. We're incredibly lucky here. If you like driving and you've got a van, go to France or Belgium. That's the dream really, hunting around a market.

Find things that you really love; don't worry if you don't have a place for it. If you don't buy the things that you love, they will haunt you. I still remember the things that I didn't get and I kick myself.

pearl's beach house in east sussex
Pearl’s beach house in East SussexPhotography by Dave Watts © CICO Books

What is your most treasured possession at home? Why is it so special?

PL: I've got a couple. I bought this butterfly mirror that I couldn't really afford at the time. It was £500 from Shepton Flea Market and I thought that was a lot of money. I looked online and the exact same one sold for £6,000. It was on the cover of my book, Faded Glamour. It's just so beautiful. I think that's one of my most treasured possessions.

portrait of pearl lowe at home
Pearl’s butterfly mirrorAmy Neunsinger © CICO Books

The other bargain is a lamp that I found at a market in Paris. It's this metal lamp that has a beautiful fringe shade with beads. It's just so pretty. My husband said it was too heavy and I couldn't buy it. I asked the lady how much it was and she said 80 euros. I said I'll take it and gave her the cash. We had to literally try and get it back on the Eurostar which was a nightmare. I had to find a really big cab so I could fit it out the window. My husband didn't talk to me the whole way home – he was so angry because he had to carry it.

Now when I look at it, I just think of Paris and how amazing it was. That was 10 years ago and we've still got it.

What would top your list for the worst decor trend?

PL: I just get so upset about new, modern, shiny, flat things. I'm a hoarder. I feel so happy and inspired by looking at lots of objects, art and things that make me feel good. It could be paintings, pictures, eclectic things, throws and lace. I am obsessed with lace.

It just makes me so sad when there are no handles on doors and everything's away. It's like you're living in space. It makes me so upset. I don't feel good in places like that. I don't understand — how can that be inspiring? I get it if people have OCD and can't cope, but my god, get me out of here. I feel like I'm in hell.

lace hanging in pearl's home
Lace hanging in Pearl’s homeAmy Neunsinger © CICO Books

Are you green-fingered?

PL: I am brown-fingered. I ruin everything. No, that's a lie, I'm good outside but it's indoor plants that I'm bad with. I forget to water them so they always die. People have given me plants for birthdays and Christmas and say, 'look, you won't be able to kill this one'. I can promise you it's dead in a year.

Having said that, we have this little walled garden where I grow dahlias and roses. They're just so beautiful. I don't know how I've managed to do that. They bring me so much joy so I make sure that I look after them. The good thing about dahlias is that they go on until November. It's so cool, you can have flowers until November and then dried flowers until March.

flowers in pearl's home
Flowers in Pearl’s home Amy Neunsinger © CICO Books

If you could have a snoop around anyone’s house, whose would it be and why?

PL: It would have to be someone quite inspiring. Maybe Hamish Bowles, the editor of The World of Interiors. His house looks so amazing. I love his style. It's very maximalism and very cool. I'd like to know where he gets everything from.

Faded Glamour By The Sea is available to buy now from Amazon.

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