Photograph: Dan Callister
The things that always make me feel at home are… books. The first thing I did upon moving into our new house, affectionately known as Creaky Cottage, was build bookshelves everywhere I could. I stack books on coffee tables, sideboards, anywhere there’s a smooth, shiny surface. Books instantly give a room personality and warmth.
What I’m reading now… Indiscretion by Charles Dubow, followed by After Perfect: A Daughter’s Memoir by Christina McDowell. I also have The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza, and a stack of others I am slowly ploughing my way through.
My beauty secret is… coconut oil, and nothing else. I use it in cooking, and have been moisturizing with it for the past six months. My skin has never looked better.
The best advice I received was… from Henry James: “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
My favorite piece in my home is… an antique Victorian writing box my parents sent over when they downsized their London home. I grew up fascinated with the compartments in this box, especially the hidden ones, and I was brought to tears when it unexpectedly turned up on our doorstep. My mother is the most brilliant gift-giver I know.
My style is… classic. Simple. Old-world. I don’t tend to follow trends, or only in the most minor of ways. My homes are warm and welcoming, filled with antiques and collections of things we love.
The first piece I ever bought was… a painting in a gallery when I was twenty or twenty one. It’s a slightly abstract nude, mixed media, and was, if I recall, a few hundred pounds, which seemed a fortune. It’s very Frances Bacon-ish, and hangs in my office today.
What I love most about my job is… connecting with people. I write to reflect the human experience, life with all its sorrows, joys, happiness and hardships. I write to show that we’re all flawed, all doing the best we can with the knowledge that we have.
My guilty pleasure is… bed. I could spend hours in bed. Our room overlooks a gorgeous tidal creek, with huge windows facing out over the water. It feels like a sanctuary, and when I’m not in “on” mode, racing around, writing books, public speaking, being a mom, I am in bed, with a great book and a cup of tea.
My style icons are… Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, always. And I am currently obsessed with Sarah Harris, the Fashion Features Director at British Vogue. Her style is pared-down simplicity, topped with a glorious long crown of glossy, grey hair, which looks ridiculously elegant. When I have the guts to let all the grey in, she is who I want to look like.