When we bought our house in 1994 it was a small garage set in an old walled cobblestone courtyard. It was originally a working mews that would have stabled the horses and carriages to service the local villas. In the 19th century, small houses were built in the mews but they were destroyed in the Second World War. We did the house in two phases and finished in 2007. I fell in love with the higgledy-piggledy feel of it – it had the potential to be developed and was enclosed by redbrick walls, a bit like a derelict nursery garden. It was a blank canvas to create something new.
The oldest piece in my home is a Roman pot my step-brother gave me, while the newest is a Howard armchair in my study upholstered in yellow linen from C&C Milano. Top of my interiors wishlist is a beautiful suzani to hang in the dining room where there is an empty space just waiting for it. The Afridi Gallery in London has gorgeous examples. Or perhaps an exquisite 18th-century Gujarat embroidery, or a beautiful antique Persian rug…
My go-to paint colour for my walls is Slipper Satin or Shaded White from Farrow & Ball. I would describe my interiors style as a mixture. I was inspired by the famous French antiques dealer and interior designer Madeleine Castaing for a few rooms, but I am longing to do a house in France with very simple style, lots of space, not much in it and plenty of natural light – wooden floors, white walls and comfortable sofas.
I’ve recently turned an old design of mine – my first scarf – into an upholstery velvet with a Japanese spin. I take a lot of inspiration from 17th and 18th-century Japanese kimonos. I looked at floors in Italian Renaissance paintings for the Jigsaw tile collection I created with Artisans of Devizes. Right now I am looking at tropical fruits, Anglo-Japanese arts and crafts and 18th-century Gujarat embroidery, 18th-century Chinese royal robes and modernist Bauhaus. A fabric collection soon to be launched with Christopher Farr started with some block prints I did when I was a student at art school.
This autumn, Fine Cell Work is launching a collection of my designs in needlepoint, which got me looking at old Brussels weaves. My latest range for The Rug Company started with looking at marquetry, inlaid floors, game boards and yurt tent constructions. I also saw the Vasarely exhibition in Paris, which has sparked an interest in what can be done with subtle tonal changes in colour. With this mix of inspirations, the challenge is to unite them all into a cohesive collection of designs for each product.
My favourite places to shop are Robert Kime for cushions and lamps; Besselink & Jones for coloured silk shades; Guinevere; Christopher Howe; Rose Uniacke; linen at Volga and Once Milano. Now I really have everything I want until we get our dream French home, but I will always buy art.
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