Hilary Robertson & Monochrome Home

Today I’m interviewing Hilary Robertson, stylist extraordinaire who has recently written a book entitled Monochrome Home. The pictures are dramatically beautiful (check out the slide show) and so without further ado let me hand you over to Hilary:

How did Monochrome Home come about?

I had been looking at a lot of Scandinavian blogs e.g. emmasblogg.se and noticed that they all seemed to present a monochrome look that looked quite effortless and easy to live with – white painted or concrete floors, white walls, black and white accessories. (Of course, the most effortless looks are often the hardest to pull off if you don’t have the right ingredients). And then I started a Pinterest board called monochrome that just grew exponentially and I realized how strong the look was all over the world; a sort of color minimalism.

How would you describe it?

It’s an exploration of monochrome interiors from light to dark, encompassing white, grey and black. I look at how and why the schemes work and ask what prompts the rigor of the ‘monochromist’. How and why would someone edit color from their lives.

The selection of homes in the book is really diverse. How did you choose/whittle down which locations to photograph?

Well, there were so many to choose from (I have a Pinterest board called Monochrome with hundreds of homes on it). I could only choose 13 so it was very difficult but as I didn’t have an unlimited travel budget I chose the best from different regions which demonstrated how successful a pale, grey or dark scheme could be. I traveled to Scandinavia, Paris, London and shot two homes in NYC. I wanted to show the palette working in different architectural contexts; from an NYC loft to a 19th century villa on the coast of Copenhagen.

Do you have any top tips for decorating in a monochrome palette?

The trick is to mix textures and finishes, rough with smooth, matt with shiny, hard with soft to give a room some depth. Another neutral used as a contrast also helps e.g. Night Owl, a case study we shot in a London mews house where the owner mixes black perspex with matt greenish black paint walls and dark stained wood floors and contrasts the dark envelope of the room with vintage leather furniture, rope and copper.

How do you manage to juggle all the different facets of you life from retailer to stylist to author?

I never stop working! I actually had to give up the physical location of my shop and now I do pop-ups instead. I travel so much that continuity was difficult and I was exhausted, frankly. I enjoy the ‘arc’ of working on a book: research, shooting, writing, working on the lay-out and then waiting for the actual thing to arrive on a slow boat from China! When I lived in England I wrote for a lot of magazines but here in NYC I am mostly styling shoots, so I appreciate the chance to sit still at my desk and write; the process uses another part of my brain.

What’s next?

I’m thinking about ideas for another book and I have a new title coming out in October 2015. Brooklyn Interiors for Rizzoli. And I’m working on a magazine idea with some friends. I’ve always been mad about magazines and have wanted to produce one for years.

Thanks so much Hilary for taking the time out of your super busy schedule!

Images taken from Monochrome Home by Hilary Robertson, photography by Pia Ulin, published by Ryland Peters & Small.

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