A charming lady who used to live in the north of England came to London to find both country house and a London flat, but ended up with one very big, lovely house (almost a country house in fact), near enough to London to pop in whenever she likes. Having lived in her previous home for a long time, she had not changed anything for ages, so her new house was an adventure. My job was to go on the journey of decorating the new house with her and make sure she enjoyed the process, which I think she did- she says she’s loved every moment of it.
My client, who had recently parted from her husband, has a grown-up family that’s beginning to expand, and they do still come and visit at weekends. I think it’s always difficult when there’s been a split, because you keep some things from your old life but not others, and maybe you have only part of something like a dinner service, so you have to readjust. Luckily my client has an open mind and realised very early on that her new home was going to be completely different from her former house. It was going to have much fresher approach which would be all hers. When my client first moved in, the drawing room – which is the least necessary room that anybody ever has – became a storeroom. This proved very useful, as we could go there and pick and choose, reassembling her things in new and different ways.
The first thing I decided was that it must be a family house and not be precious. On the stairs, for instance, I decided to buy mouse-coloured carpet, rather than coconut matting, which everyone slips on. So we got a stair carpet in a good old taupe shade (‘back of mole’ as John Fowler called it, and indeed ‘taupe’ is the French word for a mole) and it strangely brought the whole house together.