How do the Interiors of your home and cafe differ? They are very similar, except my home is only decorated in yellow whilst the tea room has a red room upstairs & green toilets. Also I have even more objects in my home.
How would you describe the interior of your home? The sitting room is full of 1920’s & 1930’s furniture, ornaments & pictures only whilst the remainder of the house is full of Victorian & Edwardian furniture, ornaments & pictures. Also of course every room is festooned with gold Christmas decorations & every room is a different shade of yellow with only yellow objects & upholstery to match.
If you could go back and live in another era from a design point of view, when & why? My favourite periods are art nouveau 1890- 1914 & the 1930’s art deco.
Biggest extravagance bought for your home? My four-poster 1900 Japanese bed with cupboards & drawers inside it & mirrors & glass pictures in the walls of the bed. It is 7 ft high & nearly 7ft wide – enough for a few people to sleep in it.
How much work have you had to do to make your home your own? I bought the house nearly 25 years ago & I had the Victorian fireplaces put back plus the cornice & rose’s in the ceiling of each room put back. I didn’t touch the kitchen or bathrooms so they are very old fashioned with the original 1920 tiles. I also had wall-to-wall gold carpets put down everywhere including in the bathrooms. Nothing else has been touched for 25 years.
If you could change one thing about your home what would it be? I would like much larger rooms so I could have even larger parties! Having said that 230 came to the last party!
Object of desire for your home? I actually haven’t got a television so I would like to acquire one eventually – but apart from that I have enough of everything in the house.
What do you collect? I used to collect books, yellow antiques – anything yellow in fact – but I’ve got enough now. However I do love art nouveau antiques, so if I had loads of money I would collect art nouveau antiques from 1890-1910.
If you were Mayor for a day what would you do? I would organise massive dance parties at the winter gardens, main hall & queens’ hall. For children from 11am – 4pm, then young people 12 –18 from 4pm – 9pm, then adults from 9pm till 12am. I believe dancing & music are so therapeutic especially for the 12 – 18 age group.
Who are your heroes? Tolstoy, Gandhi, Mandela, Ballet dancers, opera singers, Fred Astaire, Elizabeth II who has proved to be a great monarch especially in the last 10 years, & I do admire Prince Harry – he is very brave, fun, a bit crazy & yet can be a great ambassador for our country.
What’s your biggest weakness? My biggest weakness I have to admit is SEX! Oh & spending money I haven’t actually got with all my credit cards.
Favourite place to think in your house? I’ve only got half a brain so I don’t think a lot – but I suppose I do think sometimes (for 2 minutes) as I get into my four poster bed….come to think of it I really don’t have the time to think!
In 10 years time where will you be? What a terrible though! I just don’t know, though I don’t think I will be running the Mad Hatter Tea Rooms. I will be still be in my yellow house hopefully living a full & useful life.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is at the top? I love travelling – I’m off to India soon, but above all I would like to lead a useful life – helping people less fortunate than me.
Describe your ideal night in? My ideal night in is a bit naughty so I won’t tell you that, but I’m sure you can guess! After that I would watch a romantic comedy on the telly – but of course I’ve got to get a TV first.
And your ideal night out? Dancing at a nightclub with friends.
How do you see your house changing in the future? I cannot see my house changing at all ever. I am very happy with all the Christmas decorations & yellow, & I don’t mind the dust either!
Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share? I always try to be as positive & as optimistic as possible. If I get a bit low I say to myself “Peter – you are not in a concentration camp in the 2nd world war, you have so much to be thankful for” & I cheer up immediately!
ROUND- UP: Peters home is absolutely full to the brim with all things Christmas, gold & yellow & not a contemporary piece of furniture in sight. There is a lot history on show – the walls are filled with family pictures from generations before. It feels as though every part of Peters life is documented somewhere in the house with barely any wall space or floor space free. Peters home is unique but most importantly is very personal – his life past & present documented & displayed.
VISIT THE MAD HATTER TEA ROOMS: 9 Lombard St, Margate CT9 1EJ. Phone:01843 232626
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All images ©Jo Willis