As famous for being a domestic goddess as for her X Factor days, super-mum Stacey Solomon regularly impresses her 5.7 million Instagram followers with her decorating hacks and clever storage solutions.
Getting a closer look at her Essex home, Pickle Cottage, which she shares with her actor and presenter husband Joe Swash, 41, is a rare treat – and as our pictures show, the TV presenter’s love of cosy interiors, comforting colours and gorgeous, quirky ornaments shines through. Although, with three children aged four and under, it’s amazing how orderly the place looks.
As the 33-year-old settles down for an exclusive interview with OK!, the star, who is mum to Zachary, 15, Leighton, 10, Rex, four, 23-month-old Rose and six-month-old Belle, confesses she hasn’t always had a talent for tidying.
“Me and my mum laugh about this now, because before I had Zachary I was all over the place,” she admits. “I was such an unorganised mess. I was so scatty and would forget my instruments for school and all my homework and stuff and I just lived this really ridiculously awkward life of losing stuff.”
When she unexpectedly became a mum at the age of 17, Stacey realised that if she didn’t overhaul her chaotic lifestyle, she wouldn’t be able to cope. It turned out to be a valuable lesson that still stands her in good stead today.
“I honestly put it down to having Zach at a really young age and having so many commitments,” says Stacey, who gave birth to her latest addition to the family, daughter Belle, in February.
“I was still at college doing my A levels, as well as working on the side. As soon as I had Zachary, I realised I couldn’t live my life in a scatty way any more. I had a human to look after, I had to work out where my milk vouchers were and how I would keep them going for the whole week. How would I get him into nursery then get to college, then get to work, and who was going to do childcare?
"Everything became like a military operation and if I wasn’t organised, I would not have got through the day.”
Today, with so many demands on her, both at home and at work, we wonder how she finds any time to herself. Surely she must crave a few seconds of me-time each day?
“There’s one space in my house that no one goes into and it’s where my clothes are – like my walk-in wardrobe,” she reveals. “It’s not massive, but it’s big enough for me to sit on a chair and no one, not even the dogs, are allowed in there.
“So if I ever need to hide away, I go in there and I just shut the door and then no one comes in.”
And what about romance?
“I think me and Joe are in our non-romantic era,” she laughs. “It is important just to get time for us, but we’re at that stage in our life where that’s not really possible.
“We recently went to a friend’s wedding and had a night together, which was really lovely, but outside of that it’s once or twice a year that happens.”
Needless to say, expanding her brood is not on the cards. “We don’t want any more – we cannot cope with it,” she says, matter-of-factly.
“Yeah, we wanted all these kids and we’re so grateful to have them. So we will get romantic… but in 20 years’ time.”
It’s clear that Stacey’s priority is spending as much time with her family as possible, including Joe’s son Harry, 15, from a previous relationship.
“We love congregating on the sofa,” she smiles. “We’ve got one big long sofa that we all squeeze onto. And mealtimes are my favourite, because we all try to be together for at least one meal of the day.
“It’s where we really get to sit and talk to each other and it’s where our best stories come from. I would get really upset if we didn’t sit around the table. Life is so busy and there are loads of us and sometimes everyone can get lost, you know? Having a bit of time where everyone gets to say what’s going on in their life is really nice.”
Away from home, Stacey’s life is equally full-on. The third series of her hit BBC makeover show, Sort Your Life Out With Stacey Solomon, is back on our screens this week and she’s also been busy working on a homeware range for ASDA – something she describes as “an absolute dream”.
After living on a tight budget herself as a single mum and with the current cost-of-living crisis in mind, Stacey says she wanted to make sure her collection, which features more than 200 pieces, is affordable to all.
“My biggest bugbear is that sometimes, when you are really struggling and have to make ends meet, you feel that you have to get the worst version of everything because that’s the cheapest option. It just shouldn’t be like that,” she says.
“There are ways of making things that are still responsibly made, that are still beautiful, that still have good materials and are good quality, but are at a decent price.”
The star has also ensured there are pops of colour across the range for those who like to make more of a statement. “I wanted something that wasn’t just beige,” she stresses. “I mean, I do love beige, but there’s got to be something with a bit of a pop. I have always loved bright and fresh colours.”
In fact, Stacey says her tastes haven’t really changed much since she was a little girl.
“If I think back to when I was a kid, I wanted a bright pink bedroom – and that didn’t change,” she explains. “My utility in my first house we got together was bright pink, because I still wanted it. And then I got to relive my childhood dreams when I decorated my girls’ bedrooms.
“I think I’ve always liked what I liked. I still love glitter and I love pink. I love a bit of everything. I never want to just stick to one style. I know that there are lots of people who love just to have the same theme throughout, but I feel like I’m missing out a little bit if I do that.”
Despite her reputation as a crafting queen and interiors guru, the former I’m A Celebrity winner confesses she doesn’t always get things exactly right.
“I do stuff wrong all the time,” she laughs. “I put doors on backwards and have to start again. And the other day I was making a neon sign on top of a flower wall frame. So I’ve got this frame, got my flower wall, got my staple gun and was stapling all the flowers to this frame. When I went to pick it up, I’d stapled it to the table!”
Despite her sunny outlook on life, Stacey admits that keeping her home in order can be challenging. Top of her list of pet hates is the daily mountain of laundry she has to do for her big blended family.
“Having five kids and two dogs, I get through so much,” she sighs. “Sometimes it makes me want to cry. Hanging washing on the line would be OK if it was just mine and Joe’s, but when you’ve got a big family, it’s relentless and the minute you empty that washing basket, it’s full up again.”
With so much on her plate at home, it’s a miracle the star found the time to front the latest series of Sort Your Life Out – especially as it takes several weeks to film and can be both physically and mentally demanding.
“The one that’s about to come out was the hardest, because we actually did it over the winter months,” she tells us. “So it was dark and freezing and we were literally packing up people’s houses and rummaging through stuff in freezing cold warehouses.
“The first five days are the absolute hardest. They are brutal and not just brutal physically, because you’re lugging stuff around. It’s the emotional side of it. The warehouse is so emotional for these families who put themselves forward – it’s such a massive deal for them. We get so invested in the families and we care so much, and it’s a huge, huge sense of pride when we get to the end of it.”
This time round, Stacey also got a helping hand from her best friend, Mrs Hinch. The cleaning guru – real name Sophie Hinchliffe – stepped in after series regular Dilly Carter had to take time off.
“Dilly had other commitments and so we had to find somebody just for one of the episodes to fill in,” says Stacey. “The closest I could think of was Mrs Hinch, because she’s amazing. So it was nice to work with her as well as have your mate on set.”
So would Stacey ever subject herself and her family to the Sort Your Life Out treatment?
“Yes! I’ve been asking for four series now! I absolutely would,” she laughs. “We wanted to do a celeb special for Comic Relief, so maybe that’ll be me? I’ll have to put myself forward!”
At Home with Stacey Solomon is available online at george.com and in store from 7 September with prices starting from £1.
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