Pitzhanger Manor is the former country residence of Sir John Soane (1753-1837), who remodelled an existing manor into his ideal type of house. At Pitzhanger Soane had the chance to experiment with his most radical ideas, and to incorporate inspiration from the Grand Tour (columns, frescos, ruins!). This is a calming and very elegant dwelling. I adore Soane’s use of colour and light as well as his references to Greek and Roman architecture.
The Easter weekend was spent in south of France drinking blush rosé and eating plenty of seafood. After all, there are just so many eggs one can have. I love the palette of southern France; the pastel facades contrasting against the sea, the silver green foliage of the olive trees and skies (blue during most of the visit). In my favourite store in Collioure, I found a beautiful tablecloth with coral pattern. Perfect for my new garden and Summer evenings.
In Sweden, we love a public holiday and to make it a special occasion. Easter is in very much a family gathering, and we like to decorate the house together. The Easter twigs take centre stage in a pretty vase, and we also like small chicks, hand coloured eggs and to dust off the family crockery ahead of that all important family meal.
I remember when I first saw Peter Hinwood’s London living room in the 2008 issue of The World of Interiors. It was just so beautiful; laid back and bohemian, yet so chic. You can tell it’s the home of an interesting and well travelled person with a great creative eye. I adore the choice of wall colour (turquoise green) as a backdrop to Hinwood’s extensive antique collection. Moreover, I’ve always been a big fan of block stripes, and I love how they are used to break up the traditional decor. It is a trick I’ve used in my home – and the result is always striking.
If I was to list the most unexpected design trends spotted at the London Design Week, Jindo grass wallpaper would be in the top spot. Traditionally, grass wallpaper was a bit ”grandma”, plus they had the tendency to become dust-gatherers and worst case have scuffed patches. However, the new generation of grass wallpapers are not only different in design, many of them they have a vinyl covering which give them a longer lifespan and allow them to be used in different areas.
Thibaut Wallpapers have several cool designs, some of them with a metallic effect that works well in a small cloakroom (oh the glamour!). Brian Yates also make grass wallpapers, but in the more traditional style. Their Japanese inspired Akoya collection is made from tree variations of sisal fibre and have a semi-brilliant finish that brings depth and drama to a room.
I love a pretty table setting – it sets the ambience and makes the meal even more special. This April I’m combining a monochrome striped tablecloth with Iitala’s Kastehelmi glass series. Kastehelmi means dewdrop in Finish, and the plates have pretty tactile bubbles on the outside, like little glittering drops of water. The silver spoons are a family heirloom from my great- grandmother and come from a jeweller in Oslo. The napkins are from Marimekko – another 1960s classic design called Unikko.
Madeleine Castaing’s hard to copy style was whimsical and original. A trailblazer for individual style, Castaing had the ability to put together items that should not go together (in theory) to create a cohesive and well thought through scheme. She is probably the only interior designer who could pull off combining leopard carpet paired with neoclassicism and bold wallpaper without the result looking like Joan Collins‘ boudoir!
I share Castaing’s passion for antiques, and like how she mixed a range of different periods and styles; from English Regency to the heavy, romantic interiors of Balzac.
Ever looking for the unique and pushing boudaries she mixed highly valuable pieces with cheap materials such as rattan and was quoted ‘‘sometimes you need a little bit of bad taste’‘. Castaing was a creative person who liked what she liked, no matter what the price tag or convention said. It’s no surprise that she was friends with both Leger and Picasso and a keen sponsor of many artists including the expressionist Soutine.
For a sprinkle of Castaing je ne sais quoi, it is possible to buy some of Castaing’s flamboyant fabrics by Brunchwig & Fils. Their collection features some beautiful and daring fabrics, amongst them Rayure Fleurie.
Pictures: the sitting room at Beaverbrook Hotel, House of Hackney
Chintz was for many years shorthand for dated, overbearing taste. But with the recent trend in craftsmanship and traditional designs, the floral pattern is back with a vengeance. The floral look doesn’t have to be frumpy – it can be bold, daring and very interesting indeed.
The name chintz comes from Sanskrit and means ‘coloured or spotted’, but today it is synonym for a floral cotton or linen fabric which has been glazed. Chintz was originally an import from India in the 17th century, but the mid-1800s, English mills were manufacturing the fabric on a large-scale, making it available to the middle classes. Over time, synthetic dyes replaced the original natural ones, and the designs become more westernised (and floral). The fabric became an indicator and symbol of wealth and refinement; the better chintz one could afford, the higher up the social ladder. In other words, the more chintz the better.
The decline of everything floral
Chintz remained highly popular until the early 1990s when fashions changed. With the mass market embracing minimalistic designs, the glossy floral pattern no longer had a home. Indeed, the word itself became shorthand for frumpy, frilly and overbearing. Swedish furniture maker IKEA tapped into the sentiment and famously run an ad campaign in 1996 ‘Chuck out your chintz’.
The raise of maximalism
In a world where minimalism is seen as a bit boring and devoid of personality, chintz has made a quiet return. Indeed, chintz can bring personality and warmth to a room and add a sense of nostalgia. But today’s designs are not the same as yesteryear.
In recent years, uber-cool House of Hackney have reinvented the chintz look, making the patterns bolder and bigger – and avoiding the twee factor. Their Dalston Rose is based on a classic English rose print, which has a subversive quality, making floral rebellious rather than the shrinking violet of the past.
I inherited two Bauhaus style chairs from my late grandfather, who had a great eye for design and a passion for quality. The chairs were originally upholstered in deco green leather, but I’ve recently upholstered them in a zebra print ”Le Zebre” from Brunchwig & Fils. This handprinted linen fabric goes well with the streamlined design and the chrome finish. Using animal pattern was popular in the 1920s when the chairs were originally made (Le Corbusier’s Chaise Longue was covered in cowhide). It is remarkable to think that these chairs are nearly 100 years old and still look so contemporary.
Dreaming back to the magnificent Bar Palladio in Jaipur where Italy meets India. Here owner Barbara Miolini and designer Marie-Anne Oudejans have created a fairytale environment with tented garden seating, turquoise floral murals and delicious textiles. It is the Italian take on India (think Harry’s Bar meets a maharaja’s palace), taken from a picture book from yesteryear. I am a huge admirer of this eclectic style and of Indian handicraft so was totally mesmerised.