Home Truths with Mary Berry - and what she can't go to bed without doing first...

The Queen of Cakes Mary Berry gets up close and personal with her home

Mary Berry sitting drinking a cup of tea in front of a large backdrop of roses
(Image credit: BBC / Sidney Street / Endemol Shine UK / James Pardon)

Cooking legend and TV personality Mary Berry lives in Henley, Oxfordshire with her husband Paul and two dogs Darcy and Freddy. 

What is the first thing you do the second you walk through your front door?

Tell the dogs to be quiet! If I've been away, the first thing I do is go into the garden and see what I can pick to make the house home. 

There is always something in the garden to pick - we've got some irises and they're on the kitchen table now.

What’s your favourite time of the day at home?

At the end of the day, you know when you've achieved what you've set out from your list for the day, and the door closes. 

I think six o'clock is about my favourite time, sitting down, perhaps having a drink and thinking I'd better get on with some supper.

Mary in her kitchen standing in front of her countertop

(Image credit: Mary Berry at Home collection)

Where’s your happy place at home?

I love my kitchen. We now live in Henley and the house is just what we want. We have a main family kitchen, then we have a little kitchen where we do all the testing. 

People say my recipes work, it's because they are tried out until we've made them perfect for everybody else to make.

What's on your bedside table?

A clock, a picture of the children, my book of the moment. I’m reading Diary of a Modern Country Gardener by Tamsin Westhorpe. It's a diary of each month, and I'm looking at each month and what I should be doing in the garden.

Modern Country Gardener by Tamsin Westhorpe | £16.42 at Amazon

Modern Country Gardener by Tamsin Westhorpe | £16.42 at Amazon

Follow Mary's lead and use this book as an easy guide to know exactly what to do in your garden each month.

What's your home addiction?

I can't resist buying jugs to put flowers in, and I'm always looking out for antique mugs. In my English Garden range, I have mugs and jugs - they're very simple and beautiful china.

From the very beginning when the signature range was produced, I wanted china which was very good quality, dishwasher proof, you can heat it so you can have hot plates, but a very simple design. I've used it every day, particularly the dinner plates and I haven't cracked any.

What’s your home pet peeve?

I don't like to go to bed without a tidy kitchen, because I can't bear coming down in the morning to mess.

a bowl mug and jug decorated with bird patterns

The Mary Berry at Home English Garden tableware and textiles range starts at £7.95 for a square pot holder

(Image credit: Mary Berry at Home collection)

What smell says ‘home’ to you?

I love the smell of a good rose, like Chandos beauty. And I love the smell of melting butter for an omelette!

Do you have a bad home habit you’d like to quit?

I like everything back in its place - I think that must infuriate people. I've got a lot of hooks near the cooker and there are sieves on one, a ladle on another and everything has to be put back in its place, so I know where it is.

What chore do you love doing?

I don't call it a chore, but something I enjoy is always having flowers in the house. I try to have some in the garden all year round. I do like to have something to pick.

Mary sitting drinking a cup of tea in front of a large backdrop of roses

(Image credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

...and what chore do you hate doing?

Making up a bed from scratch. I really find that frightfully boring! I learnt my hospital corners early on at college, and I don't like it anymore now.

Do you have any routines at home?

Every morning I get up and I make a fruit salad for breakfast. I have done it every single day of my life. Then we walk the dogs.

Do you think you’re a good host?

I hope I'm a good host. To me, the secret of being a good host is to have done a bit of organising beforehand. If you're having a few people round for drinks, it's essential to have everything ready and prepared so you're not spending all the time in the kitchen. 

I had all my children and grandchildren round on Monday and I made three curries. All that was cooked ahead, everything was done before they walked through the door. 

It's important to spend time with your guests and if you have prepared things well, and maybe you've frozen the food if it's suitable, or cooked it the day before or earlier in the day. Then you can enjoy your guests.

a small sauce jug with saucer, table setting and place name tag with the name Mary

The Mary Berry at Home Signature tableware range starts at £4.95 for a small serving bowl

(Image credit: Mary Berry at Home collection)

What do you do if you have time at home on your own?

I'm more than likely, if it's a nice day, to be out in the garden, or if I’m on my own I'm very likely to think ‘oh I'll do a bit of batch cooking for another day.’

What do you miss most about your home when you’re away?

I miss the dogs, really. We don't take them with us usually. We have two, Darcy, named after Darcy Bussell, and Freddy, her son. I love them a lot and they're lovely to come home to.

Mary Berry's Baking Bible | £14 at Amazon

Mary Berry's Baking Bible | £14 at Amazon

In her latest book, you can learn how to master over 250 classic bakes with help from the Queen of Cakes. From sweet to savoury, these foolproof recipes are easy to follow and a cinch to bake.

Quick fire questions with Mary Berry

Mary in her kitchen standing in front of her cooker

(Image credit: William Shaw / Alamy Stock Photo)

1. Shoes - On or off in the house? Definitely on.

2. Eat at the table or on laps? At the table.

3. Lighting - are your rooms usually bright or moodily lit? Depending on the time of day, and what we're doing. Bright if I want to read, if we're relaxing and having a meal a little bit lower.

4. Quick shower or long bath? I hate showers, I love baths.

5. Room decor - Colourful or neutral? Fairly neutral.

6. Are you a neat freak or do you prefer to be surrounded by creative chaos? I like to be tidy. But I do have certain drawers that are a mess.

7. Do you tend to have music/the radio/TV on at home in the background or do you prefer peace and quiet? I love peace.

Mary Berry’s latest tableware collection is available to buy from Harts of Stur.  Watch Mary Berry's Cook & Share on BBC iPlayer and her latest book, Mary's Baking Bible is available now at Amazon and other good bookshops.

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. 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 fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.