The Insecure Girls' Club and What Olivia Did founder's quaint dwelling is effortlessly layered and cosy.
Writer Olivia Purvis’ Charming London Townhouse Is a Pastel Paradise
The Insecure Girls' Club and What Olivia Did founder's quaint dwelling is effortlessly layered and cosy.
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we celebrate innovators, artisans, and crafters of all types by taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we tour writer and founder of What Olivia Did and The Insecure Girls Club, Olivia Purvis' charming townhouse in south east London.
Many of today's influencers kickstarted their careers in the world of blogging. In 2010, British digital entrepreneur Olivia Purvis started What Olivia Did, an outlet for everything from personal style, travel, food, music, and beauty, as well as interviews with inspiring women who she admires. The openness and approachability that draws readers to her eponymous blog, which she continues to write for today, extended to her subsequent project, The Insecure Girls Club.
Starting on Instagram in 2018, The Insecure Girls Club was born from Olivia's desire to create a community-led space for women to openly talk about and share their insecurities. It aims to help women feel less alone and to embrace their vulnerabilities. "It’s always been the idea of creating a safe space where people can connect over these mutual feelings and experiences; no matter how trivial they feel or what they feel like," Olivia shares with Bed Threads' Journal. Since then, she has published an accompanying handbook "for days when you don’t feel able, confident, or brave enough to step up or get things done."
Olivia also hosted a weekly podcast with her friend and fellow blogger Charlotte Jacklin called The Fringe Of It, where the pair navigate millennial life discussing topics like body confidence, careers and friendships.
Much like the inclusivity one feels when engaging with Olivia's content, you can't help but feel drawn and welcomed by her home in south east London. Effortlessly layered and cosy, this space feels loved and lived in.
Colour and pattern set the mood in this quaint townhouse which boasts that quintessential
British charm, which marries eccentricity, elegance, and subtle wit. "I love a real mixture of mid-century fused with more chintzy, antiquey traditional florals and feminine softness, and there’s a lot of pink and teal green running through the house, which was unintentional but now seems to tie everything together." The breakfast nook is one of the loveliest elements of this home and makes for bright little corner to work and kickstart the day.
Pastels rule in this home which gives it a perpetually refreshing and sunny look, which in London you need. From the soft pink living room with its gorgeous bay windows and the floral ottoman to the dreamy blue bedroom with its crisp White and delicate Rosewater linen. For Olivia, a well-designed home is one that is filled with things and reminders of what feels special and good. "A home is for living in after all."
We took a tour of Olivia's delightful home and chatted about what self-care means to her, how her home is an extension of her fashion sense, and her top tips for a well-styled bedroom.
Hi Liv! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make and create content online; both through writing my blog and taking photos too. I also have ‘made’ a podcast with my pal Charlotte Jacklin called The Fringe Of It and have written a book too called The Insecure Girls’ Handbook (which still feels surreal to say).
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I think I’ve always been pretty creative and loved making and creating things. I remember being little and tearing out and collaging my nan’s Hello! Magazines; wanting to gather ‘ideas’ and design dresses after seeing them in those pages. I’ve always loved using my hands, be that for writing, drawing, or taking photos and continued to do that through studying art and photography at school too. I feel like I’ve always had a creative itch and that’s just been a real constant through whatever I’m doing.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?
So I’ve been writing my blog, What Olivia Did, since 2010. I started it in sixth form as a bit of a creative outlet and place to share photography and music reviews, and like it is still now – it began from a place of love and passion for these things. Anyway, when I started it Instagram didn’t exist and neither did ‘influencing’, and I was looking to perhaps move into a career of styling or journalism. I dropped out of university not long after starting and interned at a few magazines and newspapers, whilst also working in retail for a few years – hoping to absorb all the experience I could (all the while still writing my blog and outfits from my mum and dad's house). Gradually I was able to spend more and more time on my personal writing and the shift to writing and blogging full-time happened so gradually and organically which felt like a real blessing – especially because it combined the two things I felt so excited about trying to pursue on my terms.
What was the catalyst for starting The Insecure Girls’ Club and what do you hope to achieve with this platform?
I’d been doing more personal writing on my blog for a while, and despite loving sharing posts about things I was feeling, or insecurities (be it friendships, comparison or anything in-between) – already felt like my blog covered a lot of topic ground, and wanted to have a space that not only was dedicated to these things but could also be more community-led and share experiences of these things that didn’t just look like my own. Talking about topics that felt more sensitive and gentle felt more important than just me talking about them and being able to create a space for lots of people to open up was (and is) so special. In terms of what I hope to achieve, I guess it’s always been the idea of creating a safe space where people can connect over these mutual feelings and experiences; no matter how trivial they feel or what they feel like.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I feel like I get inspiration from absolutely everything; be it a song I’m listening to, or a TV show I’ve just inhaled (looking at you Daisy Jones & The Six). But, if I’m shooting it normally begins with an image I’ve seen, or a location I’ve walked past – and I then try to pull the rest together; through moodboards, Pinterest, and trying to tell a bit of a story, which is always the most important thing.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to further your career?
Oh god, I wish I had one – I’m arguably one of the least strategic and business-minded people (much to my detriment), but if I had to really think about it I’d probably say being consistent? I’ve posted on my blog at least weekly (give or take small periods) for over a decade, and have just tried to keep on even when it’s felt tricky, or perhaps less relevant because of the changing internet landscape.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?
I’ve been really fortunate to have lots of really special career highlights already, but being able to meet some of my best friends has been unrivalled. My book launch party in 2020 was one of the most special occasions, as it was just a room filled with pretty much everyone that had been there for the whole journey, and just so many wonderful people in one room; which was a real pinch me moment where I just felt so unbelievably fortunate.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?
Probably just to suck it and see, and just go for it. You’ll never know if you don’t give it a go. And one of my favourite things I try and remember is that ‘what’s for you won’t pass you by’ and trust that if it’s meant to happen it (hopefully) will. The optimistic in me definitely likes to think that!
What does self-care mean to you and how to you practice it?
I think for me, self-care is a real marriage of both making the time to look after myself and also those small moments too. It’s letting go of guilt when I don’t have time for things or trying to go easy on myself when I’m juggling a lot and finding things a bit tricky. Trying to treat myself as I would my best friend and just be gentle and know that I’m doing my best often feels like the best kind of self-care (but equally also looks like Jaffa Cakes in bed, listening to an amazing playlist when I need a real lift and cooking myself a proper dinner, or simple accepting it’s a takeaway night when I haven’t got the energy either).
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
I’ve lived here now for five years.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
Before I moved in, we only looked at one other place. My mum actually spotted this place and sent me a link and after walking in the front door I knew it was love.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
None! It was the first place I’d lived after being at home with my parents, and honestly just having my own space and home felt like magic, and still does. Admittedly there are things I’d love to do eventually but everything adds up, so for me, it’s making smaller incremental changes that feel quite transformative until the bigger things can perhaps happen.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior? Is it an extension of your fashion sense?
I think so! I always try and remember that with styling or interiors, the one thing that will tie everything together is your eye and your taste, so I think I’ve just followed my nose with things a lot. I love a real mixture of mid-century fused with more chintzy, antiquey traditional florals and feminine softness, and there’s a lot of pink and teal green running through the house, which was unintentional but now seems to tie everything together.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
Honestly, I don’t know if I could say, I’m such a sentimental soul and pretty much hold on to everything – whether that’s postcards, photos, or clothes. There are things I love in my home (like the floral footstool which feels like the most special piece of furniture) but so often I think it’s the photos and memories I have on shelves; whether that’s shells Arlo and I have collected from his first ever beach visits, photobooth strips or records that are played again and again.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
I’m currently on the lookout for a great lampshade! I feel like everything takes me such a long time to add and mull over, especially because we’re so spoilt with so many beautiful choices- but a great lampshade for the living room would be dreamy!
Which is your favourite room in the house?
I really love the living room. Maybe because it’s the last room I decorated (with help from my very talented friend Sam Latham) but it feels like such a cosy, warm space and I just really love spending time in there. My best friend and I painted it together, and it felt like a real turning point in making the space exactly what I needed and wanted it to be. It’s like a little sanctuary which feels magic. I also love Arlo’s room as that also feels so cosy and cocooning too.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
For me, it’s just creating spaces that feel loved and lived in. I always think back to how much I loved my teenage bedroom which was covered in posters, photos, and everything I loved everywhere – and there’s almost an element of wanting to continue that (albeit perhaps in a more refined way). Just by surrounding myself with things and reminders of what feels special and good, and just enjoying the space. A home is for living in after all.