the home of fashion historian and artist Lally MacBeth

Artist Lally Macbeth shows us around her Cornish home. Stuffed with handmade and vintage memorabilia, every room is as colourful as she is. And being an artist who puts herself into the picture (think Cindy Sherman), we see her dressed for the occasion. Eat your heart out Delia and Fanny. Lally gets set to cook up a storm as a 1970’s cookery queen!  You can also read my interview with her on the interviews page.

Lally in her small vibrant kitchen in 1970’s polyester skirt and top…


She loves cooking and has a growing library of recipe books including Marguerite Patten’s Cookery in Colour published in 1968. Purchased from a charity shop for 50p and perfect for a 1970’s dinner party.

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Lally is a huge fan of the textile artist Kaffe Fasset and was inspired by his collection of vegetable ware. She is now avidly collecting herself, mainly from carboot sales…

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The tray in the photo below was also purchased from a carboot sale and Lally was excited to spot it on the TV show Back in Time for Dinner’s in the ’70s episode!

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But Lally’s love of cooking is not limited to her kitchen. Being a lover of the great outdoors since childhood, she has built a cob oven in her back garden with the help of her mum. Built on fire bricks over a mound of builders’ sand, fat sausages of clay were then coiled around it to make the first layer, followed by a second layer that included straw.

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Once the clay had dried a doorway was cut et voila…!

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Lally moved to Cornwall after the cost of living in London proved too much.  She says Cornwall is more forgiving, plus she has family here. She shares her house with her partner, Josh Turner, a writer and editor.

Like the kitchen, their living room is sometimes used as the setting for Lally’s photographs…

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lally saints alive

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I love the pink back of the drinks cabinet set against the blue walls. And it’s so nice to see that not everything is vintage or expensive! In the same way that they’ve made the most of standard kitchen units, Lally and Josh have embraced an ordinary white bookcase and transformed it with their books and ornaments.

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Plants always add life to a room, and larger ones as seen here bring a sense of luxury and tropicality. Don’t be afraid to situate them away from a window. Palms can survive in the shade quite happily for a few years. And they are so inexpensive that many cost little more than a bouquet of flowers, so if they die you can start again!

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Lally says this is her favourite room as it’s perfect for lounging and reading, and that the daybed is particularly good for lazily flicking through art books and sipping g&ts!

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The drinks cabinet houses an assortment of glasses from champagne boats to whisky tumblers. However the bottom is filled with a collection of weird and wonderful keepsakes. Admitting to being a bit of a hoarder, Lally says the move to Cornwall forced her to consider what was really needed and that everything in the cabinet has a particularly special meaning, emotion or memory attached to it.

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The marionette she thinks was made by an auntie in the 1930s and the lid of a long lost box featuring 3 carol singers originally belonged to her great-granny. The owl is one of her oldest belongings. Her dad gave it to her as a baby. It originally tweeted and fluttered its eyes and has been with her through every home. She says she cannot imagine not owning it.

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The knitted llama was given to her by a friend, her dad’s business card was illustrated by her mum and the eggcup was her granny’s.

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The Steiff owl belonged to her grandma and the Bogart of Bohermore was made by her mother.  Bohermore was the area of Galway Lally lived in as a small child.

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A selection of glasses and a little cardboard figure that belonged to her Great Aunt.

The stairs lead straight up from the living room. Cleverly tucked beneath them is Lally’s tiny workspace…

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The staircase is an artwork in itself…

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The landing makes for a perfect gallery space for Lally’s paintings and I love the black and white stripy newel post!

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All the furniture for the master bedroom is from Ikea, but it is the fabulous pink of the walls that’s the star.

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The postcards hanging from the ceiling are attached to a string of peg fairylights purchased from Habitat which Lally says is nearly the best thing she has ever bought.

A simple rail is a great way to hang clothes in such a small space. A normal wardrobe would have been overpowering…

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Some of Lally’s many headresses, scarves and jewellery. I love the red and pink together, it’s one of my favourite colour combinations, especially accented with splashes of yellow and blue!

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The guest bedroom is painted a tropical island blue which so suits Lally’s paintings…

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It is available to rent through airbnb for short stays if you fancy a trip to Cornwall!

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So will Lally be moving again soon or are she and Josh settled here?

Lally says, “It took a lot of time to sort everything and I can say with some certainty that I won’t be making a big move again for a while (I just have too many clothes to pack!) I am so happy to be back by the sea now though and its lovely having fresh air and friendly faces and all those things that are often absent in the city.”

Thanks so much to Lally and Josh for the tour of their fabulous colourful home.

If you would like to find similar items try these…

Cabbage ware on Etsy here

More information on how Lally built her cob oven and links to cob oven building books and websites click here

Peg fairylights on ebay here.

Blue floral lampshade as in the main bedroom Flamingo Gifts

Vintage style flower eco wallpaper £35 roll here

Yellow kettles here