A De Beauvoir Home

Interiors consultant Zoë Carter-Mackay shares her creative journey in curating her characterful London home

I’ve always been a creative person; that trait was ingrained in me from a young age. Creating beautiful, functional, calm, and inspiring spaces is my passion. These days, I would describe myself as a Creative and Interiors Consultant. I’ve been fortunate to have a 20-year career in fashion VM, marketing, and retail design in London and New York for some amazing brands: All Saints, Reiss, Burberry, and most recently, as a Creative Director at Free People. Alongside that job and while raising a family, I started documenting our home renovation on @DeBeauvoirHome, and a new outlet for my obsession with interiors emerged! Earlier this year, I decided to step back from corporate life and embrace a slower pace with more balance for the things I love. Besides working on freelance creative and interior projects, I manage our home as a location house and am more present for my young family.

Home is De Beauvoir Town in Hackney. My husband and I lived in New York for six years, and after having our daughter, we began dreaming of buying a house with a garden. As much as we loved our Brooklyn loft apartment, it made less sense for family life. After the purchase of a Brownstone in Greenpoint fell through, we took it as a sign and decided to move back home to the UK. Returning to London, after a few months of searching, we found this beautiful 1840s house in De Beauvoir in need of a full renovation. I love North East London; it’s a truly creative part of an incredible city, and despite being so central, De Beauvoir has a genuine village feel and a wonderful community. We feel very fortunate!

"My taste is fuelled by life experiences and gut instincts for what resonates with me."

We began with a stunning late Georgian/early Victorian house with generous proportions and a wealth of period features. I knew it would require a lot of work, but I never wanted to strip it of its soul. I was staunchly protective of retaining any original features we could, while also creating spaces that suited our family’s life. In the end, it took over 3 years from viewing to moving in, spanning through Covid and beyond. Honestly, we continue to slowly invest in this house, more than 5 years since we purchased it! Ultimately, we’re so pleased with the unique family home we’ve been able to create in such a special part of London.

Without any formal training in Interior Design, my taste is fuelled by life experiences and gut instincts for what resonates with me. Our time in New York, our travels, our family, and our life have most shaped our home. I draw a significant amount of inspiration from places I’ve visited and the work of others I admire, but I always strive to adapt to make it feel uniquely ours. You can see a blend of influences from where we’ve lived and travelled in our home, ranging from New York industrialism and Parisian apartments to the impressions of Africa and Mediterranean getaways. I strongly believe that your home should reflect who you are and how you live, rather than just following trends or colour schemes. We aim to fill our home with objects and art that hold history, beauty, and meaning for us, with the hope that our choices will naturally evolve.

“Our time in New York, our travels, our family, and our life have most shaped our home. I draw a significant amount of inspiration from places I’ve visited and the work of others I admire, but I always strive to adapt to make it feel uniquely ours. ”

Some of my most significant influences from the design world have been Joseph Dirand, Vincent Van Duysen, Axel Vervoordt, Rose Uniacke, Ilse Crawford, Jake Arnold, Athena Calderone, and the styling work of Colin King. While I find their refined palettes, heritage pieces, material use, and elegant simplicity very admirable, I wouldn’t apply all their styles to my own home. However, I consider them all to be incredibly inspiring. Additionally, there’s a vast community of creatives on Instagram that I find endlessly inspiring and supportive.

When selecting pieces for our home, much of it is based on gut instinct. Do I love it? What will it bring to the space? Will it work for us? Will it fit? Natural materials, second-hand or hand-made pieces with texture and soul resonate with me the most. I struggle with buying mass-produced and new items. That’s not to say I never do it, but it’s generally not my preferred choice. If I do, it’s often for practical reasons or for a design classic I’ve long dreamed of owning. Rummaging through a market or reclamation yard has been my idea of heaven for as long as I can remember. I also love to bring something home from a trip whenever possible. Instagram is also fantastic for connecting small, often female-run businesses to consumers.

My favourite objects in my home are naturally the sentimental ones—drawings my children have made, a small statue that once belonged to my grandmother, gifts from friends, and furniture my husband and I have chosen together over the years. I vividly recall picking up some of them in New York flea markets and squeezing them into a yellow cab for the ride home! Nevertheless, I also adore the vintage marble coffee table we acquired from Anna Unwin. It’s such a unique piece and fits the dimensions and tones of our reception room perfectly!

If I had to choose my favourite room in the house, it would be our Double Reception room. It’s a serene, indulgent “grown-up” space flooded with sunlight throughout the day. Here, we treated ourselves to collecting some pieces that were true wishlist items. These pieces are complemented by the original cornice, shutters, marble fireplaces, and restored wood floors. I enjoy spending time here reading or working; it’s where I feel most creatively at ease. It’s also where my husband and I wind down as a couple at the end of each day, once the kids are in bed.

I often find excessive pattern and colours overstimulating. For me, a calm, refined neutral base with a focus on natural, honest materials and complementary tonal textures is the ideal starting point, upon which I layer items that resonate and add depth.

"As autumn arrives in London and our home, there is a welcome return of evening rituals like turning on our collection of lamps and lighting a candle as dusk creeps in."

When we approached the design of the house, ensuring that the kitchen doors opened up to connect the kitchen and garden as a single space was one of our top priorities. It feels like we’re cooking outdoors, which is simply magical in the summer months. The use of natural materials is integral to my design taste; wood, marble, linen, wool, and lime wash paint feature prominently. Growing up in the countryside, biophilic design seems an obvious way to counterbalance some of the downsides of our decision to live in the city. Surrounding myself with houseplants and fresh flowers every week is one of the luxuries I try to prioritise, as it has such an impact on my wellbeing. To me, a room isn’t complete without plants or flowers.

As autumn arrives in London and in our home, we welcome back evening rituals like turning on our collection of lamps and lighting a candle as dusk approaches. This creates such a cosy, relaxing, and homely atmosphere. We also start reaching for jumpers and layers again and return to indoor gatherings with friends and food. Personally, I love cooking a roast dinner! While people often travel and leave the city during the summer, autumn brings people back home, creating a sense of togetherness. It’s a wonderful time to gather and eat in London, whether that’s at home or in local restaurants and pubs.

Although the delicate and vibrant blooms of summer are undeniably beautiful, I appreciate the more foliage-heavy arrangements of the colder months. Perhaps there’s something that feels more authentic about them; I’m not quite sure. But I do love a neutral palette and foliage that seems to last for weeks!

This year, I’ve embarked on setting up my own business and taking on various projects as I find my footing outside of corporate life. One lovely realisation is that all the work invested in projects, building connections and friendships, and slowly gaining experience over the years begins to yield natural results once you decide to follow your heart and pursue what you love. I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be able to walk a new but familiar path. I’m excited to see where it leads me.

Follow Zoë’s characterful world of interiors @debeauvoirhome

Echo Zoë’s muted colour palette with our Harvest Moon Flower Collection. Discover Autumn at The Floristry with our collection of flower bouquets and flowers jars each made to order by our florist team and available for flower delivery in Singapore.