“Interiors are like fashion,” says Angela Scanlon, as we catch up with her one strange afternoon in March.
The whole of Britain has just gone into lockdown, and we’re chatting over the phone about how this period is really making people view their homes in a different light. Angela’s home, she explains, is full of crystals, colour, and all things sentimental.
“I love Instagram and I spend so much time on it, just kind of rooting around and saving images as inspiration” she laughs, “but, I’ve learnt that replicating trends can become so predictable and impersonal. The most important thing is that you develop your own sense of style and learn what’s important in your home. Your interior should be a reflection of you personally, not a whole load of trends and a living room!”
If anyone knows a thing or two about fashion and interiors in equal measure, it’s Angela. UK viewers are most likely to recognise the flame-haired Irish star from her time sitting on The One Show sofa, but in her pre-presenter days she was a fashion stylist who began her career writing for the pages of Grazia. Oh, and she fronted a Louis Vuitton campaign in Vogue.
These days, when she’s not DJ-ing through the early hours on Sunday morning on BBC Radio 2 or recording her podcast, Thanks a Million, she’s overseeing incredible home transformations on BBC2’s Your Home Made Perfect. This is a makeover show with a difference – two architects meet a couple feeling dissatisfied with their home and draw up two wildly different visions to revamp the space. Using virtual reality headsets, the couple step into the architects’ designs and choose which they want to build. The process is, in Angela’s words, ‘mind-blowing’.
“I’ve learnt so much from working with architects,” she reflects, as she describes her experience making Series 2 of the show. “They both have very different approaches, but one tip I’ve picked up is that so many people become quite obsessed with what the front of the house looks like when choosing their home. They fall in love with the beautiful pink front door, or the beautiful blue porch, and blind themselves to what you actually need inside. I’ve become much more aware that it’s what you do on the inside of your house that counts!”
Angela herself lives in a rented property in London with her husband Roy and their two-year-old daughter, Ruby, whilst the majority of her family live back in Ireland. These times of isolation, she admits, are pretty difficult being so far away from loved ones and friends – so how does she go about making her space feel like home?
“I like a lot of stuff,” laughs Angela, who clearly remains a stylist at heart. “I love dressing things up. Whether it’s layering blankets and trinkets, things that I get from my travels, I like to surround myself with things that hold memories, things that mean something to me.”
Style wise, the fashion-forward star is all about colour. “I love playing with colour, particularly clashes of colour, like bright blues and mustard tones. I tend to put the colour in art or a single piece of furniture, and then I’m a bit more practical in the big decisions. Our couch, which we spent a bit of money on and we’re going to have for years, is cream linen. It feels really neutral and we could move it anywhere.”
This is actually pretty on brand for Angela. If you’ve listened to her Thanks a Million podcast, whose guests include the cast of Derry Girls, you’ll know that she’s is a keen believer in the concept of working with what you do have, rather than focusing what you don’t.
“I think finding something that you’ve worked a bit for, something that has an emotional story attached to it, is amazing,” she explains. “There’s a sense of pride and a sense of ownership that you can’t buy when you put a bit of blood, sweat and tears into your own home. I absolutely love a bargain, and I spend so much time on places like Ebay or Gumtree to source what I’ve found online.”
But although she’s a self-professed bargain hunter and loves to scout out long-lasting key pieces, she says her sense of home comes from learning to recognise the worth in what’s already in it.
“I found the thing that actually had the ability to shift the way I felt was gratitude. Social media became this place where it was very easy to see what other people have and what they’ve achieved. People are under that curse of comparison on a daily basis, and so gratitude was that one thing that I would come back to all the time, the thing that would root me in reality and the present. Now, in my home I spend time looking at what I should be grateful for and what I’m lucky to have, rather than then focusing on the things that I don’t.”
Is this something that Angela thinks we could all learn to apply whilst living in lockdown? Absolutely.
“I think that this period of isolation will really make people understand how they can make the most of their homes,” says Angela. “Light, for example, is something that we hear architects and designers talk about all the time, but sometimes you don’t notice how that perfect glimmer of light moves through your home until you spend a long time inside it.”
“At the front of our rental, for example, we have a playroom that’s filled with beautiful light. It’s there for the vast majority of the day, but nobody’s in it because we gravitate towards the kitchen at the back of the house. Notice these things and you can start to think, “how do I want to live in this house? What little moments do I want to capture?” Understanding the way you live, and how you want to live, is a way you can truly express your personality in your home. It’s just as essential as working out your personal style.”
You can listen to Angela’s podcast, Thanks a Million, on Apple, Spotify and all podcast providers. The first episode of Series 2 of Your Home Made Perfect airs on BBC2 at 8pm on 7th April.