Shoe designer Jacqueline Mercer's vintage-filled London home

Shoe designer Jacqueline Mercer has filled her north London home with vintage furniture, quirky art and a plethora of colourful curios. Feature Ciara Elliot. Photographs Jemma Watts/Inside Features

Jacqueline's kitchen
Published: July 16th, 2022 at 8:30 am

How does a fashion professional transfer her design skills to her home? You just need to peek into the colourful abode of shoe designer Jacqueline Mercer to see it’s clearly second nature to some. With gallery walls decorated with a mix of witty prints, floral oil paintings and whimsical one-offs, to open shelving crammed with collections of pottery, glassware and ceramics, she’s an interiors natural.

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‘I would say I am a very visual person, and always have been,’ says Jacqueline. ‘I actually originally wanted to be a fine artist specialising in painting or work in ceramics, but when I was at art college I panicked, and when I discovered a degree in shoe design it seemed perfect for me. My artsy background probably explains so much of what you see in the house. Also, the more you do design, the better you get at developing ideas.’

The house did not start as a blank canvas awaiting a few pretty tweaks. With an overgrown garden, cluttered hallways and boarded-up back windows, it was a bit of a wreck. Looking beyond its dilapidated state to its potential as the sunny family home it has become, Jacqueline says it was the spacious proportions of the rooms and the location in a well-connected area of London, as well as the fact it had off-street parking, which sold it to them.

With its south-facing aspect and large Edwardian windows, the house is bright and sunny at any time of the day. ‘We realised how light the house was when we started to decorate and decided to go with white walls everywhere because there was no way to tell what colours would work with the light. I often think about adding more colour, but now I feel the white really works,’ says Jacqueline. It also provides the ideal backdrop for her artworks and her many colourful ceramics and knick-knacks, such as her collection of vintage Japanese Kokeshi dolls on the living room mantelpiece.

Around the house, Jacqueline has created gallery walls to display the pictures she has collected over the years from the market stalls and antiques shops that she loves around Portobello Road or bought on Etsy. ‘Behind the sofa they are mainly paintings, so I’ve kept them together. Elsewhere it’s a mix of prints and even small things like greetings cards that I liked. It’s an eclectic mix and I love to contrast colours and styles of frames for interest.’

Jacqueline likes her furniture to have character. ‘I only buy things that mean something to me – it has to feel personal,’ she says. Most of it is vintage, picked up from antiques or second-hand shops or sourced from Etsy or eBay. Even in the bathroom she has avoided ‘your average bathroom storage’ by turning a mid-century sideboard into a vanity unit with a basin. ‘I wanted it to be a bit more like the rest of the house. Not just, here’s the bathroom, and it looks like every other bathroom.’

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Jacqueline will buy new too, when she sees the right thing, pointing out a whimsical brass lamp, which came from Graham & Green. ‘I wouldn’t say I necessarily have one style,’ she says. ‘It’s just whatever grabs my attention and somehow it all seems to work together.’

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