Real Homes Stories: Step inside the wackiest home in London featuring glitter balls from a Kylie Minogue tour

Set designer Tony Hornecker has turned an old London garage into a home bursting with quirky features

london room with toilet and clothes on walls
(Image credit: Future / Barcroft)

 Down the backstreet of an East London road hides one of the wackiest and most creative homes in London, if not the world. Tony Hornecker, an artist and set designer, has turned an old garage into a home unlike any other. 

15 years ago when Tony happened upon an old garage, he decided to convert the large space into his home. The end result is a cross between an art installation and a Budapest ruin bar that Tony calls home. 

‘I don’t really know how it ended up like this, I don’t know, there wasn’t any real intention,’ explains Tony. ‘ Well, it started out as an attempt to build a New York-style loft apartment when I first moved in here 15 years ago.’

‘It was a big dirty, blank space, and everyone thought I was completely mad. I spent the first 6 weeks washing out of a bucket and trying to turn it into something that was vaguely like a home. Slowly over the years, it’s just evolved from different spaces and workspaces.’

Tony’s home has become an astonishing amalgamation of part of sets he’s designed, childhood toys, and items he’s picked up at thrift stores.

‘There’s a lot of my childhood here, there’s a lot of things from my own family, that my mum has given to me. A lot of things from different relationships. A lot of things from different exhibitions. From working as a set designer, from Kylie Minogue’s glitter balls, to all kinds of layers and layers of objects,’ says Tony.

As soon as you enter Tony’s home the first thing that catches your eye is the glitter balls that made up a Kylie Minogue set he designed hanging in the main room. However, as you move around your eye doesn’t know where to look next.

The walls are adorned in layers of vintage clothing, second-hand furniture, clusters of dollhouses. There is even a chandelier made out of Nike sneakers. Tony’s guest room is tucked away in a structure called the submarine, that Tony bought home from one of his many set designs.

However, it is Tony’s master bedroom that steals the show, accessed via a chair staircase - yes you read that right - a staircase made out of chairs. If you are looking for stylish, but maybe not quite so outlandish staircase ideas, check out our gallery.

The stairs lead to a platform housing a vast collection of dollhouses, behind which Tony’s bedroom is tucked away, housing a four-poster bed. ‘My four-poster bed I am very proud of. I made it out of old chairs legs,’ explains Tony.

The spectacular space has provided the setting for exhibitions and the occasional pop-up restaurant. However, with any space like this cleaning does prove a challenge.

‘It’s hard to keep clean,’ confesses Tony. ‘I clean by moving things, there are bits that I clean, and bits that get a little bit of a dust. It’s clean and tidy.’

‘It’s a project that’s been going on for 15 years and it doesn’t really end. I mean I never pay more than like a fiver for anything really. So it’s worth nothing, but everything.’

Rebecca Knight
News Editor

Rebecca Knight is the News Editor on Real Homes. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She moved into digital journalism and developed an interest in homes and interiors when she joined the Ideal Home website team in 2019. Since then she has written for a range of gardening and interior websites including Town and Country, Homes and Gardens and Living etc. As a flat renter, she is always looking for smart DIY hacks that can be easily removed without annoying her landlord, whilst also helping her save money towards her first home.