My Happy Home: Jean Johansson Interview

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As part of our interview series, My Happy Home, we sit down with Jean Johansson to find out about her favorite memory at home – and why she’s not a fan of tropical-themed wallpaper.

Born in Kenya and raised in Glasgow, Jean is a TV presenter best known for Channel 4’s overseas property show, A Place In The Sun. Jean has also hosted BBC’s The One Show and presented Animal Park alongside Ben Fogle and Kate Humble.

Tell us about your favorite memory at home

JJ: I think one of my favorite memories was bringing my baby home to this house. The reason we bought this house was to start raising a family. I’ll never forget that memory: it was the middle of December in Scotland and there was a lot of snow. I remember coming out of the hospital and my husband taking this little baby out of the cab seat and walking him through the door for the first time. That was really special.

What is the best decorating advice you have ever received?

JJ: I don’t think I’ve been given decorating advice! In terms of choosing things, I try and reflect my personality, but also think carefully about how it’s going to look. When I designed my bedroom, I wanted a taste of Morocco that was orange, gold, green and blue. I went for silver and gold in the end. What’s in your head doesn’t always translate to the walls, so don’t ever be afraid to tone it down.

Where do you shop for the best homewares?

JJ: I’ve got quite an expensive taste, unfortunately! I love Oliver Bonas at the moment — they’ve got such nice stuff.

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

JJ: I am obsessed with interior design, which is why I love Kelly Hoppen. She’s sort of old school and classic Cotswolds, so I’d love to get into her home from her and see what she’s done. I’d also love to look inside the home of fashion designers, too. I bet Ralph Lauren has a great home. Fashion designers always have amazing homes – other people include Diane von Furstenberg and Kate Moss. It’s people that just ooze style. I’d love to see inside their homes.

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

JJ: I’ve got a room in my house that is inspired by my African heritage. I have some pieces in there that I picked up when I went to Uganda – where my mum is from — so I would say that those sorts of African artifacts have got a special place in my heart. Although they are not worth a lot in a monetary sense, they always remind me of that visit to see where I’m from. I’m just glad that I picked up some pieces that will stay with me and I can pass on to my son.

Some of the items in the room include wooden figures, similar to Zulu warriors. I’ve also got traditional baskets that you would drink milk from. I’ve also got a lovely brown chesterfield leather sofa that works beautifully.

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What does your outdoor space mean to you?

JJ: I’m really lucky that I have a garden. I think I appreciated it more during lockdown. I even got into some planting and have given my space a new life. I feel very privileged and lucky to have a garden compared to family members in London and properties that don’t have a garden at all. So I feel like it was a haven during lockdown. It kept me healed. It’s become very special to me now that I appreciate every plant, tree, and every space where I can sit and put a towel down, or just chill in my garden. I’m really grateful for it.

What would top your list for the worst decor trend?

JJ: I will say that there’s a lot of tropical-themed wallpapers going around. I think a lot of restaurants get away with it and people think that they can then transfer it to their homes. I’m seeing a lot of wallpapers that are just a bit too much. I love a pattern, but some of the prints are just a bit too wacky and too busy, and everyone seems to be into this wacky feature wall trend. I’m not really here for it… Sorry!

What would your perfect night at home look like?

JJ: We love a movie night on a Saturday. There are two sides of my life: one is me and my boys with a movie and some popcorn, and the other is six girlfriends around a table with cocktails. I missed that during lockdown because I do like to entertain. A fun dinner party with great characters around the table is always probably my perfect night in.

How would you describe your decorating style?

JJ: I worked with an interior designer on my home, so I cheated! There is a lot of traditional Scottish elements in the home, such as dark wood paneling and tweed. It’s got some traditional touches too, such as in the hallway. My bedroom has a Moroccan feel, with white, silver and Scandinavian wood. In another bedroom we choose luxurious fabrics so that when guests come to stay they feel as if they are being spoiled.

Every room is different. I’m on the last part of the jigsaw right now, which is the kitchen. I don’t like fitted kitchens that look as if they have been taken from a showroom and put into your house, so I’ve gone wacky with this one and various chosen colors, upholstery, an American style fridge, and loads of different styles . I hope it works!

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