The Sunday Times

Style Magazine (The Sunday Times), 1997 

By Lucas Holweg

The-Sunday-Times-Chic-Lit

O’Connell herself is every bit as glam as her fictional heroines – blond hair, red lipstick, John Richmond outfit and Vivienne Westwood earrings…”

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O’Connell writes in the second-floor bedroom – which she describes as “the gathering point” of the house. Here, the open spaces and wooden floors are contrasted with a collection of furniture that is quirkily ecclesiastical in feel. “It’s a kind of gothic modernism,” says O’Connell…..

At one end of the room is a huge 19th century French bed (9ft wide by 7ft long) with an ornate wooden headboard. Draped with a deep crimson bedspread it looked as if it were designed for a large and self indulgent bishop…similarly there is a larger than life gilt candlestick, which originally graced a French alter (“I think it must be my Catholic background that attracted me to it.”) says O’Connell…

The Sunday TimesThe ground floor picks up on the churchy theme of the bedroom with a pair of throne-like eighteenth century chairs upholstered in vivid red fabric. There are inventive modern touches, too, such as a mobile side table, designed by O’Connell, using a hospital washstand found at Brick Lane market, or the “skylight” in the floor, made of glass shelves salvaged from a hospital dispensary, which funnels light into the basement studio.

Dinners sound particularly bizarre. On such occasions, a stuffed chimpanzee is moved from the shelf where he lives to the dinner table.

“We sit him opposite one of our guests and watch their reaction,” says O’Connell. I for one, can’t wait for an invitation.

Lucas Holweg, The Sunday Times Magazine