Interiors Project: Alan Andrew in London, England

Alan and I worked together at an international school in Barcelona in 2008 and 2009. At that time, Alan and his partner Vincent lived in a tiny Barcelona apartment and spent their weekends at their gorgeous home on the Costa Brava. In my time working with Alan, I was struck by two things; the first was his generosity with students and his willingness to take on social-emotional programming. The second was his amazing sense of style. In this tenth issue of the Interiors Project, I am really delighted that Alan, a school psychologist, offered to give us this peek inside his gorgeous home(s) in London, England.

What is your favourite thing about your current space?
My favourite thing is our summer house at the top of the garden. It is really hard to describe but the top of the garden is higher than the top of the roof of our house (it’s because we live on Highgate Hill). The summer house is a real getaway and even though it is a few steps away from the house I feel like I’m on holiday when I go there. It is a perfect spot for meditation and reading the Sunday paper.

{Above: The exterior of the house.}

{Above: View of summer house from the house.}

{Above: Summer house.}

{Above: Moroccan lights in the summer house.}

Above: {Summer house at night.}

How do you define “home”?
Home for me is definitely not about the physical space of where I am. While I do need to enjoy the physical space of where I am living it is so much more about “feeling” at home. I must say that I have never felt more at home than living in London. I think it is the vibrant, cosmopolitan, and cultural dynamism that makes it feel so much of “home.”

{Above: My beautiful sister Amy who has Down syndrome lives with us six months a year.}

{Above: Amy’s room. She loves the Jonas Brothers as you can see by the posters on the walls.}

{Above: Painting of a Spanish street scene.}

{Above: The Christopher Makos screen print of Andy Warhol was a gift from Vincent to me for my 40th birthday.}

{Above: Gen, our housemate.}

{Above: The fireplace in Vincent’s office.}

{Above: London houses are very narrow with lots of stairs!}

{Above: I love the Victorian details in the house.}

In what countries have you lived?
I have lived in the USA, Belgium, Spain, UK. I have also consulted in my role of school psychologist in South Africa, Tunisia, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy, and the Netherlands.

What do you love about your current city?
I love that in most situations I find myself surrounded by interesting people from all over the world. I also love the tremendous cultural opportunities. I also love a nice pint down at the pub.

{Borough Market, London}

What was your favourite city?
I feel very lucky to live in London which is my favourite city. I never get tired of it as there is always something new to discover.

Do you consider yourself a risk-taker?
Yes, I think all of us who are involved in international education must be at some level. I love the quote, “If you are not living on the edge you are taking up too much space!” I would say I am mellowing since growing older, but feel that in general taking risks usually pays off. I am so happy that I took the initial risk of moving outside of the USA. It enabled me to travel the world and to meet my husband Vincent.

What metaphor would you use to describe living internationally?
Whoever you are: some evening take a step out of your house, which you know so well. Enormous space is near. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

{Above: Buddha in the snow in the back garden}

How did you find your current home?
Vincent (my husband) found the house on the internet one night at 3 a.m. as he couldn’t sleep. It was difficult because I was already working full time at the school and Vincent was living at his parents’ in France. We were doing the long distance thing as we had to buy a house before Vincent and the dogs (we have two: Costa and Rica) could come to London. Finding housing in London is very stressful and complicated process. However, with this house everything just fell into place.

{Above: Amy with our dogs Costa and Rica.}

What is your approach to packing?
Keep it SIMPLE! I am a complete minimalist at heart. However, Vincent is a bit of a pack rat so it is a real challenge. I think we have managed over the years to negotiate a good compromise. However, we don’t plan to move for the next several years so time will tell upon our next move!

Please leave your love notes for Alan in the comments section below.

9 comments

  1. Wow! Rosemary and Bob were just up to visit dad and she was telling me about this amazing ‘site’ on your webpage . . . So glad she did as this is amazing! Now I can’t wait to come and see your “real” house . . . It just didn’t quite look like this last April ! lol Beautiful photos . . . Thanks for sharing this ‘bit’ of your life! M

  2. I’m a school psychologist too and I just got my first international assignment in Beijing. I’m moving in August and I’m really excited! Alan, if you read this, I was wondering whether you were able to find school psych positions in international schools, or if you worked as a counselor or administrator because there wasn’t much demand for psychologists in the international circuit. I will be a “counselor,” but I think they are expecting me to do some psych stuff during the year.

    Are you currently in an international school?
    Also, how did you manage to get all those consulting gigs? It sounds great.
    I’m hoping to do some private testing in Beijing, if possible.

    1. Hi Chris,
      Yes, I work as a school psychologist and director of student support at the international community school. generally larger international schools do hire school psychs. the consultation work i got out of networking at the european council of international schools. many of the smaller schools do not have access to school psychs and so there is a lot of need for testing. there also is an international school psychologist association you could join, although I don’t know much about it as i’m not a member. hope that helps and good look in Beijing!

  3. Love the article. Thank you for sharing a little more about your life and home in London. Love you and hugs for you and Vincent.

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