Posted on November 01 2011
It seems that the fashion for having the perfect home is losing momentum. Even perhaps having a bit of a backlash! Which is fabulous news for me as I’ve always had an allergic reaction in such spaces, and have had to make up all sorts of reasons to leave ASAP (plane to catch, suddenly not feeling so well, Maud needs her bedtime story, you know the sort of thing). Having everything decorated, co-ordinated and placed just so feels pretentious, static and boring. In my 15 years in the business I’ve found that the most memorable homes are those that feel lived in, a little imperfect and rough around the edges and don’t take themselves to seriously.
If you walk into a room and don’t feel relaxed, happy, excited, and amused then what may I ask is the point?
Here’s my magic formula to up the style ratings but in a laid back, inviting, almost accidental kind of way.
1. Add animals
The real things or otherwise! Think ornaments, stuffed faux taxidermy or may I even suggest my ceramic lamps of course. Animals instantly lighten the mood. Plop a sculpture of an elephant on a mantle piece and immediately you’ve broken up the seriousness of the display. I’ve also plonked a moose head above the door of my studio to lighten the mood. So as clients walk in they smile (or perhaps panic – not sure quite which?)
2. Include a bit of whimsy
Add something whimsical that makes you smile, whatever that might be. Art is fab for this. I’ve painted on a rusty old sign THE WIFE IS ALWAYS RIGHT… I’m sure G appreciates the reminder. Or one witty guy in the NY Times had painted this on his mirror:
3. More mirrors
You must have mirrors! I’m harbouring a longtime obsession with convex mirrors, particularly if they are oversized. Sitting above a mantle they reflect light, expand the space, sparkle and add instant drama. The funhouse mirror effect not only makes your space look mahoosive, it also stops the whole look coming off too uptight or snooty.
4. Pepper with texture and pattern
Like the herbs and spices of the decorating world, these guys transform any room from being ordinary to extraordinary. For an enchanting textures mash-up, mix smooth with rough, shiny with dull. This could be a big pile of logs in a basket by the fireplace, a slubby throw over a leather armchair, a rug skimming a concrete floor, and so on. Downstairs in my pad, the double height wall is covered in a beautifully subtly-patterned paper that’s perfect with the exposed bricks. A metallic supersized light looks fab in the corner and then on an old piece of wood I’ve plonked a mouth blown glass table light – none of it matches and yet it all makes sense, at least I think so!
5. Have an odd one out
You don’t want everything to match, so add an odd chair to mess up the balance. I’ve got an old wing back hanging out by the fireplace that’s upholstered in vintage bus roll. It’s individual, it creates a talking point and it completely messes up the room… in the best possible way. You don’t have to go bold with the pattern, you could have a small tub chair in a zany colour, or a reclaimed old wooden thing mixed up with some sleek and contemporary buddies. You just need one oddball to make the place feel a lot more fun. (Good advice for life, not just for decorating!)
7. Don’t be a stick in the mud
Ditch the brown furniture, pleasepleaseplease. Why oh why do so many interiors stores carry lines and lines of matching wooden dining tables, chairs, side tables, wardrobes and so on? One or two in isolation is just fine, but en masse they are seriously depressing. Too much brown drains and sucks the life out of a room. To keep things interesting you need to mix up the materials, so add lacquer, fabric, metal, leather, glass, velvet… No co-ordinates here, thank you very much.
That’s me done. Apologies for rambling on, but I do consider myself a little bit of an expert in imperfection! I could actually drone on about this all day but thought I should quit at 7, before you’ve all nodded off. If you haven’t already.