A Life Well Lived

Eleanor Cording-Booth

Interiors writer Eleanor Cording-Booth describes her life spent in the iconic Barbican Estate in East London. Slow Sundays, high walk laps and Nora Ephron soundtracks; Eleanor has created a peaceful and creative life in this quiet corner of London. Discover Eleanor’s advice on transforming a rented home and shop her Glassette wishlist full of painted wooden treasures, marbled tableware in her favourite sludgy tones and the waved lampshade she co-designed with Munro & Kerr.

What is your life well lived?

For me, it’s about appreciating renting a home somewhere so unique (we live in the love-it-or-hate-it Barbican Estate), because it’s incredibly special but we could never actually afford to buy here, so I know our time in the estate is limited, and that makes me treasure it even more. 

I spend a lot of time appreciating the little things – whether that’s doing laps of the ‘high walk’ as a faux-commute before starting my working day at the dining table, having the pleasure of going to the cinema in my slippers because it’s literally next door, or just popping my head around the glass balcony screen to say hello to our neighbour. The people who live here will (mostly) go out of their way to contribute to the sense of community and help a fellow resident in need. On Sundays, I love sitting with a coffee by our huge glass doors and having lots of candles lit, or playing some jazz and reading a magazine. 

It’s quite tricky balancing work and pleasure now, as home feels much less like a sanctuary when it’s also a workspace, but I always feel like I’m somewhere really peaceful and in a city as loud and busy as London, that’s never to be taken for granted!

What is your favourite thing about where you live right now? 

Even after seven years here, I look out at the lake and waterfall from my bedroom window and it still feels like I’m at a holiday camp. Above all though, living in the Barbican Estate is just so easy. We have 24/7 car park porters who sign for our parcels (amongst many other things) and they’re such a comforting and helpful presence. Thick concrete walls mean you rarely hear your neighbours, your rubbish is collected daily from a cupboard beside your front door and we also have big residents-only gardens that are total bliss in summer for a morning coffee under the trees before work. Sometimes you feel so far from central London, yet within 30 mins in any direction, you can walk to Soho, King’s Cross, Borough, Hackney. The location is a huge plus for someone like me who prefers to get around on foot!

How did the A Considered Space journey begin? 

I started my Instagram account back in 2017 without any expectation of it becoming a ‘thing’, it was just a way to keep track of all the design and homeware that I loved but would have otherwise forgotten about. I was working in travel at the time and had no relevant industry experience, so I also wanted to create visual proof that my passion is genuine and I know what I’m talking about despite not having a background in interiors. My CV wasn’t helping me get into the design world, so as @aconsideredspace grew, it ended up being instrumental.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far?

Working for House & Garden was always high on my list of dream jobs as I have read the magazine for years, so freelancing for the online team every week – and discovering that they’re even lovelier and more encouraging than I could have hoped – has been a huge personal highlight.

How would you describe your interior style? 

It’s hard to describe really as it changes depending on my mood and where I’ve been but the constants are a preference for cosiness over a polished look. I also like warm tones and having lots of meaningful, comfortable things around me, many of which I’ve collected on our travels. My style is not overly feminine, so in my own home, I don’t like a ruffle or a frill and I’m not into floral prints unless there’s an edge to them in some way. I love a sludgy tone and textiles such as African Indigo cloth or Swedish stripes. I’m always drawn to rattan, too. I've had to put a self-imposed ban on buying any more!

You must come across so many beautiful objects and pieces of furniture around the world through your work. How do you decide which objects make their way into your home?

I wish there was a more interesting method beyond the practicalities of price and space. I don’t have a large disposable income and I live in a small one-bedroomed flat, so the vast majority of my absolute favourite finds pass me by because they’re too expensive or I have nowhere to put them. I also try to be very strict with not buying beautiful things for the sake of it unless I have a specific spot in mind for them. Having said that, because my brain is so constantly stimulated by alternative options, I’m a total nightmare for buying new furniture or homeware that I believe to be a lifetime investment piece, then I go off it entirely about a week later because I want to replace it with something better that I’ve seen.

What would your tips be for anyone renting who wants to make their space feel unique to them? 

If you’re able to buy your own furniture (a furnished rental would be an absolute no-go for me), just collect over time and don’t rush to fill the place from top to bottom with poor quality high-street pieces that don’t say anything about your style. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make a rental feel unique as you can find some amazing bargains on websites such as Facebook Marketplace or at vintage markets, but you might need to play the long game. Also, make small non-permanent changes wherever you can. You could replace your landlord’s curtains with a style you prefer, use large area rugs to hide awful carpets, add soft furnishings such as throws and cushions, decorate with books and lamps and also buy lightweight artworks that can be hung using Command Strips. They’re all things I’ve done in this flat.

You are an encyclopaedia of interior design and always seem to know the best designers and makers to follow. How do you stay connected to what’s new and exciting in the interior world?

That’s far too big a compliment but thank you for saying that! It’s just a combination of spending far too much time on Instagram, reading interiors magazines, internet research, plus frequent window-shopping (online and in-person) to see what’s new. I also love a chat with shop owners and people in the industry to hear about what they’re working on. I work alone in my flat most days, so I’ll rarely turn down the opportunity to chew someone’s ear off! The biggest challenge is usually remembering what everyone’s brand name is, as my memory is dreadful! I’ve lost some great new discoveries that way.

If you could swap homes with anyone (real or fictional), who would it be?

I’d happily swap with anyone whose home was designed by Commune Design, Beata Heuman or Ilse Crawford.

If your home had a soundtrack, what would it be?

Something nostalgic that gives me Nora Ephron vibes, like twinkly New York jazz or a ‘90s film soundtrack, otherwise something silly like the Moana soundtrack.

A scent that makes you think of home:

The smell of fabric softener when the washing is drying and an Evermore candle, as I always seem to have one on the go and you can smell them even when they’re not lit.

Favourite place for vintage furniture in the UK:

I’m going to have to be boring and say eBay. I can’t drive and we don’t have a car, so antique markets such as Ardingly and Newark are too inaccessible, sadly.

Cosiest dinner in London:

I had a lovely dinner out in the courtyard by the fire at Luca in Farringdon last summer. Campania & Jones is cosy too if you get lucky with your table location.

Most beautifully decorated Airbnb/rental you’ve stayed in:

Some faves around the world include Riad Mena in Marrakech, Heckfield Place in the UK, Maison La Minervetta in Sorrento, Son Viscos agroturismo in Mallorca and Coqui Coqui in Mexico.

Best interior bargain:

My lucite coffee table for £20 or my Dal Vera rattan sideboard for £60, both from eBay. I was also really lucky to find a job-lot of Vitsoe shelves on FB Marketplace for an absolute bargain – they weren’t the right configuration for us but I sold them and used the profit to pay for the Vitsoe that we have now.

Eleanor's Wishlist: