Jo Berryman: ‘It’s lovely being a mum again’

Author: Susannah Warren

It’s one of those rainy, grey London days that makes everything, however brilliant, seem less so. But as soon as I step into Jo Berryman’s Hampstead home, it’s as if the sun comes out.

Fresh from her three-day festival-style Ibiza wedding to Encycle CEO Philip Bergkvist, the interior designer is buzzing with energy and talking nineteen-to-the-dozen as she arranges a glorious bunch of hydrangeas atop her golden-streaked onyx kitchen island.

Nine-year-old Nico, the spitting image of her mother, excitedly introduces the smallest members of the family: first Romy, her adorable nine-month-old half sister, who she cradles expertly in her arms; then Dolly, the family’s much-loved dachshund-shih tzu cross.

The age gap between the two children is not by design – Nico’s father is Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman, who Jo split with six months after their daughter’s birth – but has its advantages: “It’s lovely being a mum again. I’m just so much more relaxed this time,” she says. “And although it was tricky to navigate at first, it’s kind of like having a live-in au pair with Nico around the house.”

With a thriving interior design studio to run as well, though, Jo is heavily reliant on her support network. “They say it takes a whole village to bring up a child. And it does! I’ve had the same nanny since Nico was in my belly. And my mum lives just down the road. Romy’s so used to having all these women around her. It makes it a lot easier.”

Jo was, she admits, delighted to have another girl – “I have a sister and it’s such a gift.” And her respect for the sisterhood is confirmed when she tells of her decision to opt for a home birth with Romy. “With Nico, I had a very medically-controlled pregnancy and birth [a c-section at The Portland], but I wanted to manifest the birth of my dreams this time, so I created this wonderful tribe of women around me.”

She gathered together a hypnotherapist, doula, and a mother and daughter midwife duo, who convinced her she could do it. “I would never have believed it – no way!  Everyone was there, even the dog. There was no noise, no monitoring, just candlelight and my favourite music. It was a dream. And the recovery was so rapid. Half an hour later, I was having coffee and croissants in bed.”

While Jo says being pregnant was great for her creativity, it became harder once Romy had arrived. “I was a bag of hormones and exhausted,” she explains. “But I was also in the midst of some of my most major projects. So it was feed, pump, go! It was tough, I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding much.”

Although feeding is no longer a problem (she stopped at four months), Jo now has different challenges to face: “Romy’s progressing at such an alarming rate, I’m like, ‘Stop, stop, stop!’ It’s the guilt that I’d forgotten about. It’s inherited. You just have to cope with the feeling of guilt.”

She is determined to do it all, though, and is very realistic about what being a modern working mum involves. “The lines do blur and it’s hard to switch off,” she admits. “You’re on a Skype call and

you’ve got a crying baby in the background, and it’s not professional, but it’s modern. Yes, I work – and I have a baby. So I’m working from home right now. So what?

“Some people struggle with that, but most of my clients are incredible women. They get it. We’re all trying to navigate that path.”

Up until three weeks before Romy was born, the first floor of this five-storey townhouse was her office, but now the studio is based in “a mad 1960s space in the old BBC building” in Soho. She goes there about three times a week, but says, “It’s inspiring to be at home – it’s a great place to receive clients.”

Although you wouldn’t know it to look around her stunningly curated house, Jo is not classically trained. She started life as a fashion stylist, doing a stint at ELLE before freelancing for a few bands in the early Noughties. But a few years after opening her own shop in Marylebone in 2005, she fell out of love with the fashion industry. “It’s easy to consume and be consumed by the fashion world, but it’s also very empty. It wasn’t the kind of world I wanted to be immersed in anymore. And interior design seemed the obvious next step.”

The Hong Kong-born designer’s approach is, she says, “very intuitive” and it was designing her own home that got the ball rolling. “I got a few accolades and someone emailed me after having seen my home in InStyle. It happened very organically – and here I am now with a team of five.”

Jo describes her current interior design style as “future classic, rough around the edges, but with a certain glamour. It’s not rooted in any era – I love a bit of midcentury and a bit of renaissance. And even lovely old relics from the 12th century. It’s about how you splice everything together.”

And it’s this ‘splicing’ at which she excels. For the latest redesign of her own Victorian redbrick, Jo collaborated with Japanese friend and architect Takero Shimazaki to add an elemental, earthy appeal to the mix. They opened up the top floor to create a well of light upstairs, dug down a bit to add a Zen-like garden room in the basement, and masterminded a peaceful mezzanine library area overlooking the cleverly raised dining platform. “You have to work with what you’ve got with these higgledy-piggledy Victorian London houses. We couldn’t go out, but we could go up.”

Despite her bold use of colour and the array of strikingly eclectic furniture and art throughout, the house has a balanced and harmonious feel. “I wanted it to be quite elemental, so we used a lot of fumed oak. It means the architectural add-ons are apparent. I like the jarring nature of having my friend’s modern linear approach alongside the classic Victorian features – the rest of the house kind of happens in between the insertions.”

She is, she says, delighted with the results, but can’t promise how long it will be before she starts to tinker away again. “I drive Philip insane because I’m always changing things.
It’s an expensive habit!” As I glance around this cool, clever and colourful house, though, it seems cheap at the price.

Photography: Helene Sandberg

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