Interiorssneak peeks

A Light-filled London Loft with a Dreamy Kitchen

by anne

Anissa Helou is a London-based food writer concentrating on Middle Eastern, North African and Mediterranean cooking (check out her In The Kitchen With recipe!). She’s truly had an amazing career. Before Anissa was into food, her life was in the art world, and before she lived in this modern, minimalist two-story loft, she was living in a Victorian home full of 19th century objects, paintings and furniture. She moved into this light, airy, spare space 13 years ago, but despite attempts at minimalism her cookbook collection keeps growing! Anissa also blogs about her travels, the people she meets and shares recipes. Her latest endeavor is an Egyptian street food experience in an elegant ‘hole-in-the-wall’ place in Covent Garden with a group of Egyptian foodie entrepreneurs, and she leads the occasional culinary tour. Anissa also works as a consultant for the National Museum of Qatar, helping them develop a food culture program for their Food Forum. Many thanks, Anissa, and Celia Topping for the beautiful photos! Anne

Image above:  I have far too many cookbooks and even though I had a huge bookcase built specially for them, they are spilling out on the floor and in the blocked fireplaces. This said, I would have had space for all of them if I had sold my art books (I was in the art world before moving to food).  I wanted [the space] to be white but not a boring white so after I tried all kinds of whites I settled on a very nice one that changes with the light which is called blackened white by Farrow & Ball and the white is mixed with very little purple and even less black.

Image above: I initially didn’t want any stainless steel in my kitchen. I was bored of seeing it everywhere then I went to a catering show where I fell in love with this island called Sirus and made by Elro. They are a Swiss professional kitchen makers who fit out cruise liners, hospitals, and large catering kitchens. I loved the seamless quality of the island and the superior quality of the stainless steel. And I wouldn’t want to cook on anything but induction from now on. 

The favorite thing about my home: I love that I get to use all of it even though it is quite a large flat. The top room where I have the kitchen, dining room and study is where I spend most of my day working. My bedroom is where I sleep and laze in the morning and my drawing room doubles up into a home cinema (except that I have broken my projector but I will be buying one soon) and it is where I spend my evenings when I am not out with friends. And when I have friends over, we have a drink in the drawing room before moving upstairs for the meal.

Click for more inside Anissa’s beautiful home after the jump!

Image above: I was chef in residence at Leighton House a couple of years ago during the Nour festival and one of the workshops was on spice mixtures and I took the opportunity to reorganize my spice cupboard and bought a whole lot of Weck jars. Even though they don’t all stack up perfectly, I love them and I love the fact that they are completely hermetically sealed preserving the spices in perfect condition. They also look great. 

Image above: My Ittala pot (all of my pots are by them) on the induction burner, my favorite source of heat now. The dining table was designed by the architect David Cook at and I initially wanted solid ebony but it was not environmentally friendly so I went for veneer and both the top and the legs were custom made. The gorgeous orchids come from my lovely florist, Witchet from Aflorum.

Image above: Am very careful with my white leather sofa from Poltrona Frau and won’t allow anyone with a glass of red wine to sit on it!!

Image above: I love this T. Anthony bag and often take it empty to fill with various purchases on my travels, usually all edible.

Image above: I bought Modernist Cuisine more as a collector’s item than to cook from it then was rather annoyed when he told us that he reprinted another few thousand copies. Still it is a very handsome work.

Image above: This is my movie watching chair, designed by Maarten van Severen. I love it. It is beautiful and it is very comfortable. In fact, my stackable dining chairs are also by him. I didn’t want to have chairs around my table so looked for really nice stackable chairs and I bought them before I bought the chaise longue. 

Image above: I bought this straw carpet woven with wool in Marrakesh and it suits both the flat and the floor brilliantly.

Image above: A remnant from my art collecting days, a Persian carpet cushion cover that was used on camels I think or perhaps simply on the floor. The chair beyond the door is one of the van Severen ones.

Image above: In all my houses I wanted both kitchen and bathrooms to look as little as possible like kitchen and bathrooms and I spent quite a bit of time looking for the right appliances to make this happen. I love this simple ceramic sink that looks like a bowl and the tap by Vola is very elegant. The wood is zebrano and my joiner did a wonderful job sealing it properly without making it look like plastic. 

Image above: A stack of cookbooks I just got from Amazon and kept on the stairs waiting to bring them up to the kitchen.

Image above: When I sold my art collection, I thought I would keep a few objects and have my bedroom stay a little like my previous house so I kept my Victorian bed. But, in fact I wish I hadn’t as I am lusting after a Duxiana bed which I can’t have until I sell my present bed. 

Image above: My white poltroon frau sofa is my favorite piece of furniture in the house. My desk is also Poltrona Frau and it is called the CEO desk and I like to joke and say that I am the CEO of my kitchen.

Image above: The door to my flat in an 1880 building that was initially apparently a brass foundry, then a furniture warehouse. The FN sign is for Factual Nonsense and it is where Joshua Compston lived and died.

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  • Yes, please explain the concept of the floors! That is the most interesting part of this space!

  • Really fatastic space! Beautiful in it’s serenity while there’s still lots of great energy and movement in the loft. When a creative space grows from within us, it’s just inspiring to see.
    I’m with KASY on the floors. They are beautiful. Are they stained?

  • Your bookshelf is fabulous, just amazing. I am fascinated by the floors too, are they kind of green in places? Thanks for sharing your home.

  • Such an amazing space! Can I be nosey and ask what part of London the flat is in?

  • This is an incredible space! My design style is so split in two. Living in a loft space like this would be magical but I fall helplessly in love with craftsmen style homes, as well! Kasy I was thinking the same thing about the floors. They are gorgeous!

  • yes those floors were eye catching .red yellow and green . would love more info .

  • What I wouldn’t do for Anissa’s cookbook collection! And her sense of space and decor is impeccable. I was first introduced to Ms. Hellou through a Saveur magazine spread she wrote on Persian cuisine. I made her Baghali Ghatogh (Lima Beans with egg and dill) recipe and it was delicious…and now that I see the inside of her home and her kitchen I can visualize where she tests her recipes and does her writing. I loved this post!

  • hello all. the floors are stained. I think the name of the company is nordic. the red floor is stained without diluting the colour whereas upstairs the stain on the floor changes depending on the section. the kitchen and dining area is a lighter blue the middle is the same blue stain but darker whereas the study is wood. the varnish is a sating finish and it is a very strong durable varnish that again doesn’t look like plastic. i have to admit to having made the contractors redo the varnish as they had initially done it v badly and it was too shiny. they didn’t like me much after that :). still they did it and i think the varnish came from these people http://www.bona.com/en-US/

  • What an incredibly cool and beautiful home, and what an interesting lady. Those floors are CHOICE, love the mix of colors.

  • I always like it when peoples’ books look like they’re used, rather than decorative.

    But – ebony has been endangered for some time, I thought that was widely known by now.

  • The emptiness and the strict adherence to the less is more mantra, in number of pieces on display, is what makes this IMPECCABLE. You need a white Wassily chair though, or better yet a Black B&B Italia Mart chair ;)

  • what a gorgeous home! love the ladder – it looks like it moves at the top but there aren’t rollers on the bottom. i love the rolling library ladder idea, been seeing it more everywhere!

  • I love this space, but I confess that when I saw that top picture the Ken dolls in the bookshelf caught my eye and made me laugh out loud. Whatever are they doing up there?
    Such a great home!

  • Hi Anissa,
    What a lovely space! I have just moved into a very modern, bright, wonderful apartment and am trying to figure out what to do about window coverings. Your solution looks like it may work beautifully to provide some privacy, but also let in the light. Do you mind if I ask for details about your shades/curtains? Thank you!

  • hi rebecca, the blinds are linen and were made by someone who has sadly died since. i got the fabric somewhere in chelsea harbour but i can’t remember the details :(

  • What a great space! I’m in love with your spice cabinets. May I ask if they’re custom made? Do they have sliding glas panels?

  • What I find interesting (besides the home and its owner) is that this is one of only a handful of times that I’ve seen someone profiled who was…(ahem)…a little OLDER than the young people usually profiled. Thank you, DesignSponge!