At Home With… Sheena Murphy
Nune is the small design studio to watch for 2021: with offices in London and New York, and a slew of private and commercial projects under its belt. We caught up with founder Sheena Murphy to find out how she’s translated Nune’s eclectic, layered style to her town house in London’s Queen’s Park.
At Home With… Sheena Murphy
What’s the story behind your home?
We rented this house for a few years after relocating back to London from New York. That was in spring 2018 and we chose the area for its proximity to my family in Hertfordshire and the airport – since I was traveling back and forth to NYC. It’s a turn-of-the-century house, located between Kensal Rise and Queen’s Park. We did very little but paint the walls and furnish throughout, which is about as much as I could stomach at the time – with an active business in the US and the studio launch in the UK, I was looking for something low maintenance.
What was your inspiration for the design?
We brought over a number of pieces from New York, which we combined with new pieces sourced from more local makers and vintage dealers in the UK. Since we were renting, I was keen not to go overboard with too many new pieces. I was led by the period and architectural details of the house, and chose a quiet, neutral backdrop – which is often the starting point for projects in our studio. Visual interest was already there with the Victorian windows and fireplaces, but I added drama through contrast, and texture by mixing and layering textiles and accessories.
Do you have any interior brands that you love and always go back to?
Oh yes! I love Larusi for beautiful vintage rugs and sustainable linen bedding, MAH for artwork and accessories, Beton Brut for vintage modernist furniture and lighting, 8 Holland Street for vintage furniture, lighting, textiles and artwork, M Kardana and The Peanut Vendor for interesting vintage finds and Coral & Hive for handmade rugs.
What’s your favourite room in your house and why?
It depends on the time of day, but I particularly love my bedroom in the morning. It’s south facing and so, on a nice day, the light peeks in to wake us up.
Does your house in any way reflect your profession
Absolutely – I design, renovate and style interior environments for a living.
What’s your best view?
We can see Queen’s Park from our bedroom window. After living in a two bedroom apartment with no outdoor space in Brooklyn, I can’t tell you how nice it is to look out the window and see trees and flowers, and hear children playing.
What’s your signature dish – can you share the recipe with us?
I had a number of health issues after having my daughter five years ago and turned to the ancient principles of Ayurveda to help. One of my favourite dishes is kitchari, it’s incredibly grounding and nourishing, and is essentially a lentil, rice and vegetable stew that leaves you feeling warm and full – but never uncomfortable. I recommend the version in What to Eat for How You Feel by Divya Alter.
Share your top five books with us if you were to start a book club:
- Lost Connections, by Johann Hari
- We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Adichie
- The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
- My Country, by Kassem Eid
- Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
Share your must-see TV and movie list:
For TV it would be: Small Axe, Unorthodox, This Is Us, Normal People and Trigonometry – which was produced by a good friend, but sadly only has one season that leaves you wanting more! For movies: Searching for Sugarman, Joker, A Star is Born (mostly because I have a weakness for Bradley Cooper!), and Walk the Line – which reminds me of my grandfather, and stars my favourite actor, Joaquin Phoenix.
Describe your office space – is it at home?
I used to share a studio space with a local architecture practice, which I loved, but because of Covid I had to relocate. I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated space to work at home, away from endless distractions, but I do hope to return to a more social and stimulating setting eventually. I think the key to productivity at home is creating a comfortable space, filled with all the things you need and some natural light flowing in. Access to the outdoors and air flow is crucial.
What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning (share your routine)?
I’ve recently started to do a few rounds of sun salutations each morning. Stretching and movement wakes me gently and clears my head for the day – I find being visually connected to the outdoors while I do this is helpful. Then, as long as I have time, I make a hot breakfast – either simple almond butter on toast, porridge or a delicious egg dish. I like ensure we all get a decent amount of protein to give us a good start. My husband and I both help to get our five year old daughter ready for school and out the door. He cycles there, and I walk to the local coffee shop before heading back home to start the work day.
And how do you love to spend your evenings?
I used to love exploring London with friends and family, trying restaurants in different neighbourhoods. But at the moment, I use my evenings to meal prep, listen to a podcast in the bath, or relax on the sofa with a good TV show.
If you were to throw a party at home, what are the key ingredients to make it go with a swing?
Good food, great music, delicious drinks and interesting people.
What gadget could you not live without in your home?
My kettle! Since moving back to the UK, my love for tea has been reignited.
How’s your garden behaving at the moment?
It’s pretty green, surprisingly. Nothing very colourful is growing and our strawberry and tomato plants are dormant, but it’s filled with evergreens so it’s still quite lush.
Whose home would you like to be a fly on the wall in?
The Obamas – like so many, I’ve become deeply engaged in global politics in recent years, and have so much respect for and interest in their outlook and point of view. Not to mention their sense of fun. Failing that, my business partner and dear friend, Tor. To be back in NYC and get to hang out with her, even as a fly, would be a dream!
Has lockdown made your reassess your work and home life balance?
It has deeply fed into our work because people’s buying habits and needs for how their homes function has shifted. Priorities are outdoor space, more thought for specific division, and a desire for increased natural light.
I’m craving similar things and although I’m an introvert and enjoy time alone, I also need connection with others. While it’s been truly incredible to have more time with my family, I’m looking forward to having some separation between work and home (I think my husband agrees because there are currently flooring, tile, stone and fabric samples all over the house…)
What makes a house a home?
Love, connection, and comfort.