Maximalism rules at singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s home, and things get even bolder and brighter at Christmas, as she surrounds herself with the people and objects that she loves
Anyone who thinks Christmas comes but once a year might be swayed by Sophie Ellis-Bextor. A viewing of any of the singer’s Kitchen Disco sessions, beamed live from her home to an estimated 30 million people via her Instagram during lockdown, would show that the spirit of the season is alive all year at her house. ‘The lights, disco balls, turntables and silliness are there all the time, only the tinsel curtain was new,’ says Sophie, describing the backdrop to her joyful online shows.
Sophie’s home, an Arts and Crafts house in west London, is a maximalist heaven, full of the vintage finds she scours the internet for. ‘I love nothing more than unearthing vintage napkins online, or something else bonkers,’ she says. ‘My home is full of natural light, as well as the brightess I’ve added, and it makes me so happy.’
Sophie’s at-home performances became such a mainstay of the pandemic that they’ve spawned their own album, Songs from the Kitchen Disco, which is out now, with a tour planned for 2021. Their amateurish, unpolished nature was part of the appeal – Sophie would be dressed in shimmery outfits and neon make-up, performing her classic hits alongside Prince covers or tunes from the Grease soundtrack, with her five sons wandering in, dancing, falling over or asking for a cuddle. ‘I'm normally quite private but it was weirdly natural to throw open my home. It put a positive spin on things and made other people feel good while we were having fun.’
“I love doing a big tree and a brightly coloured table. I like bright jewel tones, emeralds, sapphires, cerise pinks, baubles that look like big diamond rings”
Real Christmas is no less exuberant, noisy or vibrant. In Christmas times past, Sophie hosted for as many as 22 people (although this year, of course, will be different). ‘I love doing a big tree and a brightly coloured table. I like bright jewel tones, emeralds, sapphires, cerise pinks, baubles that look like big diamond rings.’
Husband Richard Jones, bassist from the band The Feeling, makes mulled wine martinis, then the fun begins. ‘The snow machine comes out and everything gets covered in foam before we play party games,’ says Sophie.
Much like the Kitchen Discos, events are not as chaotic as they first seem. In the middle is Sophie, more poised than you‘d expect anyone wearing sequins, high heels and juggling five sons to be. ‘We’ve done Christmas so many times that Richard and I have got the routine down pat,’ she says. Even the children – aged 16 years to 18 months – are easy. ‘They have loads of people to play with and talk to and presents to be distracted by.’
This year’s celebrations will be marred by the loss of Sophie’s stepfather, John Leech. ‘We’ve had Christmases together since his cancer diagnosis three years ago so there has already been some poignancy there,’ she says.
Ultimately, Sophie will be where she feels she belongs the most, in the middle of her family. ‘We’re really lucky – lockdown has reminded us how much we like each other,’ she says.
“My home is fill of natural light and the brightness I’ve added, and it makes me so happy”
Q&A with Sophie
Best family moment
As a family, we love to gather on the sofa and watch Christmas movies. I particularly like Scrooged. When the boys are in their pyjamas and we’re all cosy and snuggled up, there’s a real sense of being in exactly the right place.
Best Christmas treat?
Nothing says Christmas like those red chocolate Lindt balls. It's the way they explode in your mouth and feel so indulgent and jubilant.
Best sound of the season?
Richard has a Christmas playlist that we play all month long. It‘s a lot of Phil Spector, The Ronettes, Nat King Cole, Brenda Lee and Bing Crosby.