«I do believe that no matter what style, everyone wants an effortlessly beautiful home and with all the products and websites available to us today, it’s achievable.»
However, winning home is not just a show home but somewhere that reflects the story of the people that live there, personable and therefore engaging. To add that extra dimension, think of the age old adage, “something old something new, something borrowed and something blue”. In interior design terms that means not acquiring furnishings from one source but instead going for a curated mix. Here’s mine.
Every good home must have at least one old piece, be it vintage or antique, it helps break the monotony of just using modern furniture. I love trawling through the internet for old furniture and artefacts. For the glamorous and expensive 1stdibs is it, although much that is for sale on the website is in the States. For more localised sourcing I go to Panomo where I recently sourced a 19th Venetian bombe commode for my own home. You have to try Ebay too, I found a pair of French 19th century gilded arm chairs with perfect upholstery, the cost? £500. Need I say more? I do wrench myself away from a computer screen and go to the auctions, my favourite is Lots Road where I have found pieces that have spent their life sitting in grand Chelsea houses. A word of warning, make sure you buy the best that you can afford, as that single antique will become the centre of attention.
I like new furniture to be sleek, as if its floating off the floor, low slung and usually Italian. Modern furniture for me should be seen but not heard, timeless pieces that can be dressed in different ways to change the feel of a room, acting as a backdrop for characterful furniture. When it comes to modern, I have been spoilt, gracing my clients’ homes with beauties from B&B Italia and Minotti. I’ll let you into a secret, I often mix such such expensive pieces with Camerich who supply great value elegant furniture that doesn’t shout too loudly.
When looking for individuality, I turn to talented craftspeople, commissioning them to create a unique piece. Doing this need not be expensive, as the small workshops don’t have to bear the costs of an expensive showroom and marketing. A favourite craftsman is James of Whetstoneoak. He works with kiln dried slices of tree trunk to create, expressive pieces. Just like George Nakashima did in the sixties, I place one of James’s coffee tables beside a sleek sofa for winning look.
In to the interior design mix I like to add things that have personal importance. Maybe something special brought back from a trip. I do suggest this idea with slight reticence, care has to be taken, you might need a professional designer on stand by. Remember being on holiday and enjoying drinking the local spirit such as Metaxa? Bring a bottle back home again and it tastes quite vile, it’s the same with souvenirs too. A subtle singular piece does look good, Yves St. Laurent often placed an African mask on a console table and even sheaves of corn to help soften a look.
A decent sized house soaks in a lot of stuff before looking complete and inevitably that costs money and if you want a few special pieces then budgets have to balance somehow. My solution is to source from the high street. Like many designers, I have been quietly using Ikea for years. Their furniture is made to last with simple clean lines that look classy in any interior. I use their Lack range, especially the sofa tables and shelves. Don’t overdo it though , just a few pieces in a room, especially as their furniture is easily recognisable. For a bit more glamour have a look at Swoon, again good value and decent quality.
The high street has become more and more sophisticated in recent years. Recently I discovered west elm, a New York company that has recently come over here. They know what’s happening in design, a bit like Zara does with fashion, constantly updating and changing the collections in the store. Presently they have a 1960’s masculine vibe with a sprinkling of Palm Springs glamour, I can’t get enough of it.
I asked West Elm if I could do a room set in their Tottenham Court Road showroom to show how I use their furniture on my projects and bravely they have agreed.
I will be installing it on September 4, you might catch me there with a staple gun and paint brush. I will also be having a chat about the room set at West Elm on the evening of September 14 evening, please do come and join me.
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