I spend a lot of time looking at images… images of living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms you name it. Very few stand out – generally they all sort of merge into a haze of nothingness. However some do and one of the homes that I return to again and again, either to illustrate a point I’m making in one of my masterclasses or purely for inspiration is the home of Kate and Andy Spade. It’s actually quite formally decorated for my taste, so it’s a little surprising that I am so drawn to it but it’s one of those homes I keep coming back to again and again over the years. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why, and my best guess is because it feels just so loved. So if you want to know how to create a pretty darn cool interior, a few pointers from the Spades!

Photography: Todd Selby,

Most people actually do and it shows. Walls seem a bit bare, tables are empty, there might be one cushion on a sofa if we’re lucky, possibly a few lights. This is NOT ENOUGH. The more you dress a room, the more intriguing a room becomes. (Please don’t ask me about dust! This is one of those questions that interviewers seem weirdly obsessed with… yes you have to dust more but what would you rather: a space that you truly long to return to at the end of the day, or an empty box? And don’t we all dust anyway?! Ahem. Rant over.)

Nor do I believe the line “my life is so cluttered and full my house needs to feel spacious and empty”. Rubbish, come on. This is not a minimalist moral high-ground, you’ve just not spent any time on softening up your home and making it personal. Simple as that. Anyway, who can really feel comfortable, squishy and contented in an empty shell of a room?

Photography: Todd Selby,



Triple your lights if you think you have enough you don’t. As I write I’m looking around at 8 lights in a relatively small room. When they’re softly glowing they cast the most magical soft lighting scheme around the whole room. Lighting is second only to colour as one of the most transformative things you can do to a space.


Photography: Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg, Matchbook



Forget lining accessories up in regimented rows, and please don’t leave great gaps and too much negative space between objects. Why? Because it reads as boring. It doesn’t push boundaries, its not intriguing or challenging – either to look at or let’s face it, to arrange. This sort of “styling” can be mastered at the age of 2. Maybe 3 for a slow learner! Instead arrange things in three dimensional little groupings – mass objects together that vary in height, look at the composition from all angles, the side, the front, the back. Is it butting up against the wall? Is there a lively rhythm from all directions? Does it make the eye linger, elevate every object to more than the sum of their parts and lift your mood at least a little just looking at it? If not, you’re not finished. Yes its a little harder but we all know the harder you work at something right the more you get out of it! Plus I’ve broken it down into five easy steps in my ultimate fail-proof guide to creating a vignette.

I think that is enough to be getting on with for this morning at least. I leave you with the images above of the fabulous Spade home. It nails it for me. It looks lived in and loved, you don’t quite know where to look, your eye is drawn, tantalised and intrigued all at the same time.


You can see more of the amazing Spade pad over at Matchbook magazine or The Selby.


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