Inside the colourful life and home of Anna Campbell-Jones


Broadcaster, interior designer, Influencer of the Year… Welcome to the colour-filled world of Anna Campbell-Jones

words Catherine Coyle | photography Laura Tiliman

It would make sense if Anna Campbell-Jones was a fire sign. She certainly possesses all of the typical attributes – a thirst for adventure, a wicked sense of humour, a willingness to take risks – and seems to have an affinity with the element.

You see, if it hadn’t been for the devastating blaze at Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building in 2018, she might never have had her ‘sliding doors’ moment.

Anna Campbell-Jones
Anna’s interior design practice, Habitus, is where she consults with clients and puts together moodboards

She’d been lecturing at GSA, her alma mater, a couple of days a week since 2000 as well as running her interior design practice. Her schedule was tight, and fitting in other work was almost impossible. “After the fire, everything closed down. That was when I got the call,” says Anna.

The fateful phone call was from a producer who was looking for judges for a new TV show called Scotland’s Home of the Year. Had she still been working at the Mack, she would probably have turned it down. She wasn’t to know just how successful the show would become (it has been recommissioned for a sixth series, and a special annual Christmas edition has also been produced), but it opened her eyes to unexpected possibilities and has encouraged her to grasp new opportunities with both hands.

Anna Campbell-Jones office
Anna’s space is a riot of pattern, colour and personality

“My mother had died quite suddenly a few weeks before the Scotland’s Home of the Year call,” she says. “She was the person I’d speak to about these things. Without her, I realised I had to ‘adult’ on my own. A lot had changed suddenly. It was a massive turning point for me, and I didn’t really think about what would happen next.”

Her role on the hit show (“It has been an absolute rollercoaster”) has led to her picking up the title of Scottish Influencer of the Year. It also propelled her to set up a “micro brand”, as she calls it, selling her own range of handmade textiles and homewares inspired by Norman Wilkinson’s First World War Dazzle camouflage designs, with an extra mid-century twist.

Anna Campbell-Jones
At work in her studio: “My life has taken a lot of different paths but they have all been connected to interior design.”

“When you’re a teenager, your idea of someone in their 50s is a person cruising towards retirement,” reckons the effervescent designer. “But I’m having the time of my life! I get
a lot of messages from women of a similar age to me saying how happy they are to see someone in middle age going for it, enjoying life, taking on new challenges, not being afraid to try new things. My life has taken a lot of different paths but they have always been connected to interior design.”

Anna grew up in Hammersmith, where her father was an architect and her mother was a nurse-turned-painter and designer. Anna studied interior design at GSA – it was one of only three UK universities offering a degree in the subject at the time – and she was smitten with the city as soon as she stepped off the train at Central Station.

But she graduated into a recession and there were no real jobs in interior design. Reluctantly, she returned to London, where she cut her teeth on big commercial contracts, retail displays and partnerships with global brands.

Anna Campbell-Jones
Cooking is another of Anna’s hobbies. She wanted a hardwearing, authentic kitchen, so opted for bespoke stainless steel. The room is peppered with trinkets with stories, such as her vintage iGuzzini orange pendant. “The first one I had here I got out of a skip. It tragically split and when I was looking to replace it, the kids were insistent that I find an identical one; they saw it as the heart of the home. I got this one from an online vintage reseller.”

By 2000, though, when it came to having her first child, Anna realised she didn’t want to stay in London. Glasgow was calling: “My (ex) husband’s company had an office there. We’d met at art school and both loved the city. It felt like the right place to raise kids.”

Another fire proved fortuitous: this time it brought her a main-door flat that would become her forever home. Some people might have struggled to see past its scorched ceilings and charred walls, but Anna was undeterred. Mrs Kilgour, the previous owner of this apartment in the west end, had enjoyed smoking in bed, she says, which explains the blaze that wiped out everything, except one old metal filing cabinet containing a lifetime’s worth of photographs taken by Mrs Kilgour.

“I like to think that we are all guardians of the properties we live in. I’m a great believer that everything in your house should tell a story… but it doesn’t necessarily have to be only your story; it might also be the story of someone who has passed through it.”

Anna Campbell-Jones
Anna’s own brand of homewares and textiles dress the classic HAY Mags sofa in the living room. A Tulip side table by Eero Saarinen and a vintage standard lamp add to the eclectic mood

Anna’s capacity to tell stories is writ large on every inch of the flat, which she raised her kids in, began new careers in, and will always call home.

It has evolved over the years but at the heart of it is a commitment to colour and a passion for pieces that speak of life – hers, her family’s, even Mrs Kilgour’s; compared to the house in London where she was raised, decorated by her ultra-minimalist architect father, it’s at the opposite end of the design spectrum. “I have this pretty reliable theory that if you choose something really, really sincerely, it will go with the other things in your home that you’ve bought with that same sentiment,” she says.

Anna Campbell-Jones looking at swatches of fabric
Anna is a fan of riotous colour and pattern

“Clients always ask me, ‘How will I know if things match?’, and I always say they don’t have to! They can relate to each other.”

Glancing around the flat, there are chairs she has fished out of skips and a collection of old ‘brown’ family furniture that she didn’t want to let go of after both her parents passed away.

On one side of the hallway are austere family portraits; on the others, Andy Warhol’s Flowers. “I didn’t plan it – it just kind of happened, and I thought, that’s not wrong because I love them all, and they all love each other.”

Clients always ask me, ‘How will I know if things match?’, and I always say they don’t have to! They can relate to each other

She takes the same kind of philosophical approach to her bothy on the west coast, a retreat that serves the extended family for holidays and impromptu getaways, and which she has been coming to since she was a child.

Dazzle camo-designed exteriors give it Anna’s signature blast of pattern

There, hardy practicality, chosen with the rural location in mind, is mixed with treasured curios. The 1970s breezeblock cabin needed a lot of upgrading (Anna describes the fabric of the octagonal building as being like “Weetabix dissolving in milk”).

She enlisted the help of her friend Mark Bell of McGinlay Bell Architects and the basics were modernised – better insulation, solar panels, rainwater harvesting.

The cabin is a home from home for the Campbell-Jones clan. Its plywood interior keeps its rustic integrity and lets the location take the spotlight

“We also changed the shape and size of the windows, and painted the exterior with a Dazzle camouflage pattern. Inside, it’s got furniture from Mum and Dad’s house, as well as all our family photo albums. Things have to be important to be here. It’s a really, really special place.”

If Anna’s not able to escape to the bothy at the weekend (she makes the trip so often she believes there’s a groove marking the route between Glasgow and the coastal bolthole), you’ll find her out and about in the city she loves – perhaps doing a bit of vintage shopping or checking out a new exhibition for creative inspiration.

“A lot of what I’m moved by is quite abstract,” she says. “But it’s got to raise my pulse.”

Subscribe to Homes & Interiors



Create a cosier home and happier planet with retrofit

Depending on the changes you make, a retrofit could increase the value of your home by as much as £10,000


More like this