Internet retail business office is a web of intrigue

YOU might imagine the home of the founder of leading website would be in an isolated country spot, full of quirky pieces and far from the madding crowd of commerce. However, Sophie Cornish’s home is to be found in the London suburbs, a semi-detached, three-storey Victorian villa in a peaceful street near Richmond.

The daughter of novelist Penny Vincenzi, Sophie grew up in a series of different homes.

“My mother and father liked to do up houses, and then sell them on. My father ran his own business and my mother had started writing novels when I left home,” Sophie explains.

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Having such an itinerant childhood made Sophie determined to find a home she would stay in for a long time. She found this house when pregnant with her first child, Ollie, 16 years ago, and there has not even been a hint of moving since.

Sophie’s mother has been a great influence on her life and inspired her first career working in magazines.

“I can always remember my mother writing. She would get up very early in the morning and write on a Brother typewriter. She had the most fascinating, glamorous life, and when I was young she worked on magazines like Nova 
and Honey.

Prior to starting up her website which specialises in selling unusual products that you would not be likely to find on a typical high street, Sophie worked as a magazine writer. Starting her own company with friend Holly Tucker in 2006 was a dream come true and it is now ranked as one of the leading internet retailers in the UK, with more than 3,000 individual businesses selling 55,000 products.

It is no surprise then that her home is full of stylish, modern pieces and there is very little out of place.

“I have to admit that I do like to have everything in order,” she says.

Sophie lives with her husband, Simon Cornish, and their children Ollie and Honor, 13. They have made quite a few changes to their home with the first refurbishment in 1998, followed by a major makeover in 2010.

Their last refurbishment included putting in what they now call, a ‘penthouse’ suite for Ollie. “He now has a room at the top of the house with his own Banksy artwork on the wall and his own shower and bathroom. He may not ever want to leave now, but I want to hang on to my children as long as possible,” Sophie jokes.

When they bought the house, it had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, but following the renovations they have four bedrooms and three bathrooms. They also opened up the back of the house to let in more light and have access to the garden from their living room through a new extension.

The master bedroom is on the third floor with an en-suite bathroom painted in Plummet by Farrow & Ball with letters spelling “Bathe” above the sink.

Sophie loves how her home has turned out, explaining that it is filled with all the bits and pieces that tell their story as a family. “From the four map hearts of each of our favourite places in the world, to bits of furniture that we’ve hunted out and restored, it just feels very us,” she says.

With the award-winning online business proving a huge success, Sophie and business partner Holly have written a book, How to Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table, about the lessons they learned when starting up. Family life and running a business has proved to be a winning combination for Sophie. k

How to Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table by Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker is published by Simon and Schuster, £14.99 (