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10 Mins With Jess Alavi-Ellis

As the owner of one of our favourite homes on Instagram, we interview the brilliant Jess Alavi-Ellis to discover more about her renovation journey, personal interiors style and top tips for fellow first-time renovators...

image of Jess Alavi-Ellis

Image credit: Jess Alavi-Ellis

Formerly known by the Instagram name Clueless Renovators, after 3 years of renovating their north London home, the wonderful Jess Alavi-Ellis (@jessalaviellis) and her husband Darius are now far from clueless! In this 10 Mins With Interview, we chat to journalist Jess, all about her beautiful home. In addition, Jess shares a few renovation lessons learnt along the way, along with her approach to choosing paint colours inspired by travel. We were lucky enough to visit Jess at home earlier this year and can confirm her house is every bit as incredible in person as it looks on Instagram. So, if you’re a fan of Jess’ renovation journey, keep reading to discover the secrets of her fabulous interior style…


1. Let’s start at the beginning, tell us a bit about yourself and your home?

image of kitchen and hallway in Jess Alavi-Ellis' home

Image credits: Jess Alavi-Ellis

I'm Jess, I'm a journalist and a Mum to an inquisitive 8 month old named Remi, my husband Darius works in marketing and we have two British Blues, NibNob & Persie. We live in a Victorian terraced house in North London, it's taken a lot of love and TLC to get to this point but we have nearly finished our 3-year renovation!

2. As self-confessed clueless renovators, can you tell us the story of your renovation journey?

image of Jess Alavi-Ellis's living room

Image Credit: Rockett St George | Gorgeous Boucle Fabric Chaise 3-Seater Sofa in Blush Boucle

We moved from South to North London in search of a house we could put our stamp on, with a limited budget that meant finding somewhere that needed a lot of love. When we walked in, this house had such a lovely feeling but it had been stripped of its period features and needed a back to brick renovation. That limited budget meant we could afford very little professional help, we had zero DIY experience but, with the help of family and friends, we have since rolled up our sleeves and learnt everything from plumbing to building stud walls and a lot in between!

3. What are the top tips you learned along the way from renovating your North London home?

details of Jess Alavi-Ellis's Home

Image Credits: Rockett St George & Jess Alavi-Ellis

Take your time, we only regret decisions we have rushed. It makes a huge difference to live somewhere, see where you naturally gravitate, where the light moves, what you want from a space and how you want to feel there.

4. Do you have any advice for fellow renovators that are just starting on their renovation journey?

image of sofa in Jess Alavi-Ellis's home

Image Credit: Rockett St George | Gorgeous Boucle Fabric Chaise 3-Seater Sofa in Blush Boucle

Instagram is an amazing tool for learning and sharing tips and tricks, but remember to take a step back and figure out what you love and your own personal style - sometimes there is so much inspiration it's overwhelming.

5. We love the way you use bold colours in your home, how do you go about the process of choosing a colour when decorating?

images of a colourful hallway and living room

Image Credits: Jess Alavi-Ellis & Rockett St George

Thank you! Choosing colours for a whole house was intimidating at first so we focused on our favourite memories and went from there. Our kitchen reminds us of our honeymoon in Mexico, our bedroom of the mountains on our misty November wedding day in the Basque Country.

6. How would you describe your personal interior style?

image of fireplace styling

Image Credit: Jess Alavi-Ellis

Personal! If that’s a style. So much of our home is based on memories and filled with things collected on our travels or passed down from loved ones, the rest we’ve searched out over time. I love the idea of building a layered home over many years, full of things special to our little family.

7. What are the most treasured pieces in your home?

images of Jess Alavi-Ellis 's living room and kitchen

Image Credits: Jess Alavi-Ellis

Our original 70s Terence Conran Habitat Scoop Chair and a tapestry made by my mother-in-law for Darius when he was born and since passed down to Remi.

8. We fell in love with your vintage green armchair when we visited your home, do you have any top tips for sourcing amazing vintage and second-hand pieces?

image of Jess Alavi-Ellis reading a book on the sofa

Image Credit: Rockett St George | Gorgeous Boucle Fabric Chaise 3-Seater Sofa in Blush Boucle

Yes! Ultimately it’s a big-time investment but I really enjoy scrolling through eBay, gumtree and other auction and resale sights. Search broad terms - you won’t find bargains putting in the designer's name, instead, I found the chair by searching ‘70s chair’, there were A LOT of results but keep checking back and you might find something really special - on eBay make sure to set your filters to ‘used’ for a quick way to skip to the best bits.

9. What is your next project at home?

images of a colourful bedroom and fireplace styling

Image Credits: Jess Alavi-Ellis

The shed! Not very glamorous but we have lots to store. We've carved out space for a potting bench and maybe a bit of a workshop too. I have my sights set on the downstairs loo too, and have a quick and hopefully quite unusual makeover planned for it!

10. Finally, what are your 3 favourite RSG products?

images of a twin stalk palm tree floor lamp, corner sofa and leopard print candles

Left: Vintage-Style Twin Palm Tree Floor Lamp | Middle: Gorgeous Boucle Fabric Chaise 3-Seater Sofa in Blush Boucle: £2,250.00| Right: Set of 2 Leopard Print Candles: £28.00

I love all of the palm lamps, including the Twin Vintage Palm Lamp that we have in our home as it makes the space feel really exciting. I of course love the Rockett St George sofas, they are so comfy. And finally, the leopard print candles!

Quick Fire Questions

1. I am happiest when… I'm with my family2. My favourite magazine is…House & Garden3. My dream holiday would be…to Japan!4. My ideal day would be spent….Having a lie-in (imagine!), brunch on the beach, a good poke around antiques markets then dinner with mezcal margaritas  5. My personal motto is… You'll feel better after a shower 6. My guilty pleasure is… Reality TV7. The last film I saw was…Boiling Point8. My favourite book is…Travels with Myself and Another, Martha Gelhorn9. In five years’ time, I want to be…Happy10. The three things I can’t live without are…my husband, my baby, my cats
Check out the RSG YouTube page for our On The Sofa With Jess Alavi-Ellis video to discover more tips and inspiration...

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