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Home Comforts: top-drawer tequila and 1970s tunes with Stephanie Barba Mendoza

The party never stops at the Mexican interior designer’s London home, where Italo-disco records form a funky soundtrack to work, play and, naturally, margarita-making. Pass the limes

Grace Helmer

The fact that Stephanie Barba Mendoza has a powder room says it all. Not for her the ordinary old downstairs loo; no, Stephanie, who was born in Mexico and now lives in north-west London, is far too fond of fun and drama for that.

The Mexican interior designer is nothing if not a little bit extra. Having cut her teeth under the grandmaster of glamour, Martin Brudnizki, working on such wonderscapes as the flower-bomb fantasy that is Annabel’s in Mayfair until branching out on her own in 2019, she’s au fait with a bit of flamboyance; in fact, she embraces it, as we learned when we interviewed her about her beautiful blue sitting room with its tortoiseshell fire surround and opulent velvet sofa. On her wilder, more experimental side, she told us, “My own house is where I can really push it; it’s like my own little laboratory.”

Life in the “lab” – a Victorian terraced house near Queen’s Park, which she shares with husband Bernhard and sons Leonardo and Santiago – is currently a little higgledy-piggledy, Stepahnie says, as the family are revamping their kitchen. But when it’s ready, freshly bestowed with her maximalist magic, we’ll be begging for an invitation for some  Mendoza margs. That bottle of Cascahuin is crying out for it.

My most recent home improvement…
I’m in the middle of renovating my kitchen and powder room. Lots of mud is being carried through the house as we speak! We’re talking full-on construction, as we’re doing the side and rear extension as well, building a little further into the garden. We’re also lowering the kitchen and garden floor levels by half a metre. Not only will it give us more height inside, it means the transition from one to the other will feel seamless when the doors are open.

The latest addition to my wardrobe…
A pair of Toteme crock-effect leather knee-high boots.

The most useful item in my kitchen…
My coffee machine – does that count? A couple of cups in the morning while I get ready are a necessity. After that, my citrus squeezer, which gets used several times a day. Being Mexican, I get through a lot limes.

What’s always in my fridge…
Feta, eggs, avocado, limes (of course), wine and all kinds of chilli sauces, some freshly made, some bottled.

The prize bottle in my drinks cabinet…
Cascahuin tequila, which is a traditional Mexican brand (no celebrity tequilas please. Thank you), Tiawi Tiawi mezcal and, for a lighter cocktail, a bottle of Italicus bergamot liqueur.

Hanging on my walls…
A large piece by the late Austrian artist Richard Hirschbäck, painted in 1989. I’ve also got a huge photograph by my dear friend, the talented photographer Casey Moore. It’s of the sky in Australia, taken from his wife’s (and my best friend’s) farm, just before a big a storm broke after a long drought.

The knick-knacks on my mantelpiece…
A cluster of ceramic mushrooms I bought a few years ago at Universal Providers, an antique shop on Golborne Road, a vase with fresh flowers, a crocodile-shaped tray I found in Mexico, and a bird-shaped piece by the wonderful ceramicist Claudia Rankin that was given to me as a present.

The books on my shelf right now…
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, Dave Grohl’s The Storyteller, and De Vacaciones por la Vida by the Mexican artist Pedro Friedeberg.

The music on my stereo…
I have been listening to a lot of Róisín Murphy lately, as well as Beyoncé’s Renaissance. When I’m doing creative work, I like an upbeat soundtrack of dance music, a bit of 1970s stuff and some Italo-disco tunes.

Growing in my garden…
A tall Tasmanian fern and a jasmine tree.

Hidden away in my cupboards…
A stash of sweets and chocolates collected at Halloween and various kids’ parties, which get used for bribing my children.

On my to-do list…
Book tennis lessons… And play more tennis!

Further reading

A Room of One’s Own: Stephanie Barba Mendoza’s delightful decorative experiments

Stephanie Barba Mendoza

Stephanie on Instagram


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