Making a Home with Ali Heath - Anna Unwin's Bathroom
Making a Home

Ali Heath

Words by Harriet Russell

One of the UK’s most successful interior stylists and designers
on her design philosophy, style ethos, and what really goes into
making a house a home.


Anna Unwin’s bathroom.
Photography by Michael Sinclair.

Ali Heath is one of the UK’s most successful interior stylists and designers. Her two bestselling books, 2021’s CURATE and 2023’s CREATE, aim to help people recreate that professional look at home, whilst helping their own creative flair and personality shine through. Here, we sat down with her to talk more about her design philosophy and style ethos – and find out what really goes into making a house a home.

I’ve always been interested in people, spaces, and interiors, but I’m not formally trained. Like a lot of creative journeys, I ended up here because I followed my heart and followed what drove my curiosity. At 31, I began dealing in French and English antiques and decorative accessories – using a small pot of money from the sale of our first home. I didn’t know what I was doing but started small, bought what I loved, and it seemed to work. A few high-profile retailers started using antiques as props and bought lots from me – which opened new doors.

Interior design projects have quietly simmered over the years. But since writing my books, I now take on more significant projects for both private clients and boutique properties. I’m also doing more creative consultancy for brands, businesses, and individuals – either on set projects or as 1:1 mentoring sessions. I only take on work that I love. Being more discerning ensures the best outcome for everyone. Once committed, I become very focused and all about the creative and the detail. For me it is the planning and the little things that make such a difference. I like to get under the skin of what I am committing to – it’s never about volume or rush, always quality work, and investing the time to get it right.

I used to be quite a maximalist, but now I would say I am now more of a minimalist. But I still have huge magpie tendencies that need to be reined back in when they get out of control. I am all about seeking out the unique and the individual – and love the hunt for something specific. Things don’t need to be expensive – I love the mix of antique, vintage, and new; high with low; designer and high street; and always handmade. It makes for a much more interesting dynamic, and the artful combination of it all adds the magic – too much of any one thing stops it feeling special.

Making a Home with Ali Heath - Sabi En-Suite Bathroom

The master en-suite in the luxurious wood and stone cabin SABI, located on Binalong Bay in Tasmania. Photography by Marnie Hawson.

Ali Heath - Edit58

Upcycled armchair styling for Edit58. Photography by Michael Paul.
Ali Heath’s CREATE - At Home with Old & New - Exploring the beauty of creating a home from vintage finds and contemporary pieces. Shop here.

Ali Heath's - CREATE

I never follow trends. It’s only ever about what I love and what creates atmosphere at home – scent is often a big part of that story. You know instinctively when a room feels right and when it doesn’t, so always keep playing with a space until it feels connected and works. Learning to follow your own path, and to stop looking at what others are doing is a game changer. If you create for you, it will work because it’s personal.

Mixing old and new is incredibly subjective, and there is no one way to get it right. If you favour modernist interiors, a particular antique will make a statement and elevate your look and the dynamic of a space. Likewise, in a maximalist home filled with old finds, adding a more contemporary piece will inject some modern edge. Unifying a look using a colour palette, texture, or patina, can really help, but equally a mis-matched home full of colour, pattern and periods will look effortless and unique. The mix is what turns the ordinary into extraordinary. Trust your intuition, let go of perfection, and let your signature style surface freely. When you look only at what everyone else is doing, you will never be original. I like to fill a home with personal finds, that reflect the person’s life journey – collected over many years and reminders of their story. You do not have to finish a home in one go – the best spaces are the ones that continue to evolve slowly and take time to mature. When you make a home for you and your family that reflects what you love, it will never be homogenous.

Ali Heath - Sabi Bathroom

Sink detail at SABI. Photography by Marnie Hawson.

Don’t overthink it. For me, the personality of a home is more about the feeling than the place. So, making your home somewhere that you want to return to each day is about creating an environment that celebrates a sense of happiness, nostalgia, and joy. When it reflects your style and you feel comfortable cocooned within your own walls – whether relaxing, partying, dreaming, or rejuvenating, then you have made a home. Worn around the edges, sometimes tidy, sometimes messy is good – for me it is simply about keeping it real and being true to your vision and personality – no one else’s.

I love using natural foundations as the basis of creating a timeless home – wood, limestone, stone, concrete, and marble. Natural materials age beautifully over the years and their patina gets richer and more interesting with wear. I have had to learn to live with the fact that marble chips, so do make sure you can cope with that before making your choices. Decoratively, touch is important, so I love to combine softer layers of textiles in wool, cashmere, linen, and sheepskin, along with rougher textures like rush, jute, rattan, and cane. The beauty for me is always in the combination of them all and mixing opposites creates a tension that adds character and individuality. Think rough with the smooth, sleek and embellished, luxurious and humble, tailored and worn, perfect and imperfect.

In hard working areas, I always mix form with function. I like things to be both beautiful and practical. However, decoratively, I have a soft spot for ceramics, lighting, and art. These are the quirky layers that transform a room and home into something truly beautiful. Never underestimate the power of lamps – I have eight in the kitchen and chosen well, they can turn a practical space into somewhere decorative and welcoming. Always mix heights, shapes, styles, and periods.

As mentioned, I’m a huge collector of ceramics. Astier de Villatte is a firm favourite of mine and my go-to source for buying pieces from their collections, as is always Nām in Bath. The shop founder, Sharan Kaur has a very special eye and if you love ceramics and scent as much as I do, then it is so easy to fall in love with her and the shop. I also love The Hambledon, in Winchester – Victoria Suffield has created such a magnificent brand that sources womenswear, menswear, jewellery, homeware, gifts, and beauty. It’s like a mini department store but with the unique charm of being independent. Their displays always inspire me, and the Christmas shop is something not to miss – they stock the best decorations.

Bailey’s Home is also a constant source of inspiration – I bought from them years ago when I had a tiny shop, and Sally and Mark Bailey continue to deliver such creativity and authenticity in their collections – both in the shop and online. Abroad, a firm favourite is Mercí in Paris. They are online so you can enjoy browsing from the comfort of home, but there really is nothing like visiting the store for ideas and inspiration. Finally, I’ve worked with The White Company as contributing editor and creative consultant for their second book, The Art of Living With White, and am currently contributing to their new magazine The Thread. They are really shaking up the creative behind their brand and I admire Chrissie Rucker for continuing to evolve such a strong household name.

Ali Heath - Alex Legendre's former home, kitchen dining area. Photography by Michael Sinclair.

The kitchen dining area in Alex Legendre's former home. Photography by Michael Sinclair.

Elsewhere, I like to support independents and makers – and in the build-up to Christmas, I will often feature lots of amazing shops that are doing great things on my website and social media. It is wonderful to know that in such a tough climate, there is still such passion to source the unique and the one-off. I have lots of go-to antique dealers too – a few favourites include, Anton & K, Anna Unwin, Maison Artefact, Streett Marburg, Brownrigg, The Oscar Collective; and Caroline Zoob’s Decorative Living Fair is an annual treat with so many smaller dealers, that source wonderful stock for this three-day event, that happens once a year. And Alex Legendre and Matthew Cox are both a constant source of inspiration.

Working as a stylist, writer, and designer, I’m very passionate about the process from start to finish. If I could offer anyone any advice who’s looking to transform their home, it would be buy less, buy better, and choose things that you know you will love forever. It doesn’t matter about the size of your budget, or how big your space is, it is simply about choosing the best you can afford, avoiding trends, experimenting, matching form with function, and creating freely. If you love it, it will stand the test of time.

Visit and follow @AliHeath_UK on Instagram.

CREATE: At Home With Old & New, by Ali Heath, is published by Mitchell Beazley.

Ali Heath's Home
Small Details

A shelf in Ali Heath's kitchen.
Photography by Alun Callender.

Ali Heath - Sabi bedroom

Bedroom at SABI. Photography by Marnie Hawson.

Ali Heath - Maria Le Mesurier

Dining area in the former home of Maria Le Mesurier. Photography by Brent Darby.