Find someone who talks about you with as much love as Jack Guinness does in his East London apartment.
Sitting in his kitchen, the style geek huddled over the dining table and me on his grandmother’s carved wooden bench, he beams as he recounts the moment he first laid eyes on the Victorian conversion of a bedroom in Clapton.
“I knew it was that one. About 15 seconds after watching it, I made an offer. I went to bed every night looking at pictures, dreaming about what to do with them, for four months. Then there was a bidding war and I managed to get it. I am so grateful. “
Model and founder of the LGBTQ + community and of The Queer Bible, Jack Guinness doesn’t reveal how much he bought it; it would ruin romanticism. But he says it took 15 years of non-stop work to save money and the lack of affordable housing in London is a travesty.
Back to the love story: “I remember a friend of mine saying that when she saw her husband, she knew that marrying him was inevitable. I felt like this about my apartment. Buying a house is like falling in love. It was always going to be my first home. Maybe I’m married to an apartment.
Jack grew up in South London, the son of a vicar. His glamorous career, coupled with a butterfly-like personality, made him a centerpiece of the London social scene. Before his first step up the property ladder, he rented out parts of the house that also served as party blocks.
“The last place I lived was a huge warehouse with a bar called Jack’s. We had legendary Christmas parties where we would build a stage and get friends who were in bands to perform. “
Florence & The Machine sang All I Want For Christmas one year, Harry Styles did another. Her 30th had a Stars In Your Eyes theme with a smoke machine blowing surprise singers.
It’s a world away from the serene surroundings we are in, a cup of Herbal Teapigs in hand, with the kitchen door leading out to a lovely north-facing garden patio. All very tall.
“As you get older, you want a safe haven. I travel so much and go to nightlife events so I want my space to be a lot more private and warm. Because of the pandemic, I didn’t really have a lot of people. It’s my little secret place where I recharge my batteries and watch Real Housewives.
Jack finished just before the lockdown. Refreshing his handyman skills, he painstakingly sanded and stained the floors.
After drilling a hole in the wall for a fireplace, he ran out of money so he filled it with candles. Hours were spent painting color swatches onto scraps of paper to discover the perfect match.
For the kitchen, it was Farrow & Ball’s Dutch orange: “In bright light, it’s very orange, but in low light, it works wonderfully. It creates a feeling of happiness. I really wanted my house to reflect my personality but also uplift my mood.
He kept the beige kitchen tiles from the ’70s to break up the black wood elements and accessorized them with a brushed brass faucet and deep sink.
The chrome connection points have been replaced with colored dots; pink, blue, beige. The playful toaster and kettle are from Hay. Her Welsh grandmother’s coffee sets are proudly on display.
“She left me with beautiful Portmeirion sets and every time I use them I feel like she’s still a part of my life.”
They sit next to the animal print Oka tumblers.
Downton Abbey actress Daisy Lewis, who Jack describes as the Queen of The Saleroom, has made him addicted to the online auction site. He likes to mix the old and the new, and likens a visit to his apartment to a walk down memory lane.
“When I’m away, I always buy something weird. I was just in Italy and saw this amazing Murano light. I didn’t know how I was going to get him back to London but I had to. I have a donkey stool in the Africa living room.
After a trip to Afghanistan, Jack came back loaded with rugs, now sitting nicely beside his great-grandmother’s threadbare mats: “In my fantasy world, I like the idea that my grandchildren or nephews inherit my interiors.
He has an obsession with vases which he hopes to control before he needs Sir Elton John’s floral budget. Curbing the enthusiasm for William Morris’s housewares turned out to be an exercise in restraint. Who doesn’t love these Liberty cushions?
He wanted the bedroom to be masculine. Railings by Farrow & Ball evoke the ambiance and change from a dark mustard to a warm green throughout the day. He desperately needs a new mattress because he still bears his ex-boyfriend’s imprint.
The living room is cute. Jack designed the sofa with Love Your Home and a friend compared it to something at the lavish Chateau Marmont hotel in LA, only for members.
“I have to do some bathroom work,” he says. “My job is to think about how I look, but I’m surprisingly not conceited, so I don’t spend a lot of time getting ready. “
That’s not to say he doesn’t like a long bath; her dream is to buy an Edwardian roll top and indulge herself with her favorite Santa Maria Novella oils from Florence.
According to Jack, the best thing about his place is storage.
There are sliding doors all the way down the hall where he keeps clothes and art books. Artist Tomo Campbell and his close friend Alexa Chung love to dig. Don’t tell Alexa that she still has her model.
The hallway is also a showcase of his passion for photography, where the photos of Bruce Davidson rub shoulders with a Steve McHugh. Original artwork for The Queer Bible, Jack’s brilliant essay book by Elton John, Graham Norton, and Munroe Bergdorf, add a sentimental touch.
As I soak up the Diptyque Amber fragrance, I am fascinated by the deeply personal nature of this apartment. It’s a mishmash of styles, eras and emotions, but it works. In his own words, this is the house that Jack built.