Design for a living: inside the digital worlds of Ros and Jess, founders of The Home Page.

Jessica Jonzen and Rosalind Sack, co-founders of the excellent The Home Page, met as newly exiled Londoners working on a regional lifestyle magazine. Perhaps it was their shared experience in quitting the capital; maybe it was their common belief that the interiors section of the magazine could be working harder; or it could have been their similarly stellar careers – Jess working for Net-a-Porter, The Times and Matches Fashion; Ros for Hearst UK and the BBC – that ignited an obvious spark of friendship. Any which way, they clicked, discovering along the way that they also shared a simpatico style.

Buoyed by this serendipity, they decided that they couldn’t be the only ones who were looking for an interiors magazine that delved beyond the surface to the emotional connections we have to home. And thus, in 2019, The Home Page was born.

True to their word, they have created a wonderfully warm place which covers everything on the home front, from style through to thoughtful, ruminative first-person experience pieces, such as what it feels like to create a life far from home; Valentine Warner reflecting on the comfort of food; and Jess Phillips on what it means to feel safe in your home. There’s also a great section dedicated to ‘how-to’ videos; there’s food in the form of reliably mouth-watering recipes; there are shopping edits; in short, all of life – or at least the bits of it we like most – is here. Plus, alongside creating content we love to devour, Ros and Jess concurrently do the same for a host of lifestyle brands via Studio Home Page.

Here, these arbiters of style and elegance tell us how the terrific trinity of Molly Mahon, Willow Crossley and Joe Wicks got them through lockdown.

My favourite website...


Ros: The architecture and design magazine Dezeen. It’s like a little box of delights where you glimpse what happens when some of the most creative minds in the industry let their imaginations run wild. They feature so many incredible homes, futuristic buildings and ground-breaking designs that really challenge the norm and push boundaries.

Jess: I think The Modern House is brilliant. They’ve done away with all the terrible stereotypes about estate agencies and brought some romance to the house-buying process. Even though I’m not moving house anytime soon, I love looking at the incredible houses on their books and reading their beautifully-written journal which is full of inspirational content – surely the mark of a successful website.


My favourite app...


R: Probably the most well-used apps on my phone are Spotify, as there is always music playing in my house; eBay, which I’m always scouring for bargainous homeware and Photos/Camera, of course – which reminds me, I really need to back it up.

J: I love Shazam – I’ve discovered so much great music through it.


My favourite blog...


R: I tend to read magazine and newspaper websites more than blogs.

J: I love Kate Watson-Smyth’s blog, madaboutthehouse.com. As a journalist, Kate is a whip-smart writer and her articles on her blog are always so well-researched, insightful and entertaining.


My Internet hero...


J: Matt Haig really uses his platform as a force for good.



My favourite podcast...


R: There are so many. I was hooked on murder investigation Serial; regularly laugh out loud at Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster; enjoy my dose of interiors with The Great Indoors hosted by Sophie Robinson and Kate Watson-Smyth; and always return to Desert Island Discs’ vast archive. I also find Calandre Orton’s Up with the Lark podcast really insightful.

J: I absolutely love Table Manners with Jessie Ware and her mum, Lennie. It’s such a brilliant concept – cooking for interesting people and having a good old chat. They’ve had some fantastic guests but my favourite recent one was with Dawn French. Fortunately with Fi Glover and Jane Garvey is brilliant, and I’m also a big fan of How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, and the Adam Buxton Podcast.


My favourite YouTuber...


R: I rarely watch YouTube except for very specific video tutorials or looking up song clips from Frozen with my daughter.

J: I don’t watch YouTube myself, but my children absolutely love the Art for Kids Hub channel, and it’s really inspired them to create some brilliant drawings.


My most recent buy online...


R: A beautiful monogrammed Liberty print Christmas stocking for my daughter from Etsy.
J: A lovely rush mat from Edit58.com for my sitting room. I love the owner, Lisa Mehydene’s taste and the fact that she personally signs a card with each order – it’s a really lovely touch.


Last book you downloaded or read...


R: I tend to either read physical books in bed, or listen to audio books when I’m driving or cooking. I’m currently reading Acid for the Children, the autobiography of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which is great escapism.

J: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert in hard copy. It was an absolute joy.



Favourite tweeter...


R: I don’t use Twitter much these days, but I enjoy following Jess Phillips MP’s ever frank and funny posts and Monty Don’s wonderfully soothing images and videos.

J: I’m rarely on Twitter as I find it a very aggressive space these days. However, sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter’s account featuring his commentary of the adventures of his Labradors Olive and Mabel has been a very welcome distraction this year.


Favourite Instagrammer...


R: Paula Sutton for her beautiful home, creative videos and unfalteringly sunny outlook; Gill Meller for endlessly delicious looking food and wild and wonderful seascapes; Clover Stroud for her honest, intelligent and wise take on life and family; and interior designer Beata Heuman for a grid full of inspiring interiors dripping with colour.

J: Daisy May Cooper makes me howl with laughter; Arthur Parkinson’s account is brilliant for gardening advice and acerbic wit; I really enjoy Africa Daley-Clarke’s account @thevitamindproject and @sisterhouses is another beautiful account with a very touching story behind it, which we recently featured on The Home Page.


Favourite tech gadget...


R: Does the disco light currently suckered to my kitchen window that I bought on a whim in lockdown count?

J: My Tile device. It connects my phone with my keys and wallet, so I have no excuse to lose any of them ever again – it’s honestly revolutionised my mornings.


The most useful gadget/item on your desk...


R: Probably my trusty Sony digital Dictaphone. It’s been with me for many years as a journalist and has recorded my interviews with all sorts of people; from film stars to politicians.

J: Same answer here – I’d be lost without my Dictaphone. As well as being an essential tool for my job, it’s a wonderful record of the interesting people I’ve been privileged to meet over the years.


Most useful digital resource during lockdown...


R: WhatsApp video call to keep in touch with family and friends. I probably ‘saw’ more of my friends during lockdown than I had over the previous six months, which was lovely. Daisy Upton’s wonderful Five Minute Mum Instagram feed was also a bit of a life-saver!

J: The Ocado app!



Most inspirational digital resource during lockdown...


R: Block printmaker Molly Mahon’s wonderfully inspiring how to videos sharing her endlessly creative printing talents. Florist Willow Crossley’s IGTV posts are also filled with brilliantly useful and inspiring gardening, growing and floral arranging ideas and tips.

J: Another vote for Molly and Willow here. Joe Wicks was also a lifesaver at the beginning of lockdown when I was home schooling my two children. His PE with Joe classes on YouTube gave some focus and structure to our days when it felt like we were living in a wind tunnel.


First thing/app you look at on your mobile when you wake up/in the morning...


R: The Times news app to check up on the morning’s headlines, closely followed by Instagram, I’m sorry to say.

J: Ditto! I’ve also started reading the New York Times in the morning, too.


Last thing you binge-watched...


R: The Scandi-noir drama Deadwind on Netflix. Not as good as The Bridge, but a highly addictive thriller nonetheless.

J: The Undoing on Sky Atlantic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. It was absolutely gripping.


Favourite brands you have discovered online...


R: So many – especially fabulous interiors brands, including artist Lisa Hardy; homeware stores Artisans and Adventurers, La Basketry and Doing Goods; ceramicist Karin Hossack; stationers Choosing Keeping, vintage art dealer Medium Room; fabric and wallpaper designer Ottoline Devries and many more.

J: Wonderful homeware brands including Edit58 and Molly Mahon; Atelier Ellis for really beautiful paint, some of which I recently redecorated my sitting room with; Petri Prints which is run by dietician Rosie Saunt, who sources fantastic antique prints inspired by science and food history; and Atelier Augé, which sells affordable prints by the artist Lucy Augé.


Social media allowed me to meet...


J: The journalist and stylist Amy Maynard, who owns a beautiful holiday rental called The Outbuilding Appledore. I found it on Instagram and fell in love with it, went to stay there with my family, and Amy and I got on like a house on fire. She’s become a great friend and we’d never have met without Instagram.


The best digital advice I've been given...


R: Be kind. Always.

J: ‘When anger trawls the internet, Looking for a hook; It’s time to disconnect, And go and read a book.’ – Matt Haig



My screensaver is...


R: My daughter sitting on a sunshine yellow deckchair by the seaside in Lyme Regis giving a big thumbs up. It never fails to make me smile.

J: My husband carrying our daughter and son. It’s a few years old and my daughter is now too tall to carry so it’s a sweet and happy memory.


My standout online memory...


R: Seeing The Home Page live for the first time back in January 2019. After months and months of planning and hard work, it was such a thrill and a joy (if also a little nerve-wracking) to see our baby out there in the real world.

J: That has to be mine, too. It was an incredible feeling to press ‘publish’ and see The Home Page go live for the first time.


My pet online hate is...


R: Falling down the rabbit hole of Instagram. As much as I love it and find it so useful and inspiring, I can waste hours on it.

J: How probably perfectly nice people IRL can become mean, judgemental and argumentative when they sit at a keyboard.


Do you have any online rules or resolutions?


R: I wish! Running an online business, it’s difficult to switch off from it, but I definitely try to limit the time I spend on any devices when I’m with my daughter.

J: I’m afraid I’m not very well disciplined when it comes to switching off. Sometimes I’ll implement keeping my phone downstairs at night but it always seems to creep back in. I’m mindful that I need to model good behaviours around the internet for my children so I will always tell them what I’m doing on my phone if I’m on it around them, so they don’t think I’m just mindlessly scrolling.


The Internet. On balance, a force for good or ill?


R: Definitely, on measure, for good.

J: A force for good, if used sensibly.

By Nancy Alsop
December 2020

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