Friday, 27 March 2015

The New Classic

I was in London three weeks ago and happened to wander into the Colefax and Fowler store at 39
Brook Street. Anyone who has a passion for interiors will recognise the address as the former home of Nancy Lancaster and THAT famous yellow room. I will be honest and say that discovering the store was a complete accident, a fact I am just a little embarrassed by.  I spend a lot of time in London yet I had never before managed to visit the location of one of my all time favourite interiors; and I call myself a devoted Colefax and Fowler fan.

Outside Colefax and Fowler in London

Now I had discovered it, I was fully prepared to witness for myself the splendor of the yellow room and all of its charms which has captivated so many since Nancy Lancaster worked her magic. What I had not anticipated was the appearance of the Colefax and Fowler showroom and how different it would look compared to the classic Colefax I have always been familiar with.

Of course I had seen glimpses of a new style of C&F in brochures and on the internet, but in all honesty I had ignored them and focused instead on my comfort zone..the Bowood, the Brocade stripe, the Chintzes, all paired together with classic English chairs, antiques and furniture. What was now in front of me was a complete surprise, but actually a pleasant one. Sisal covered floors, freshly painted furniture in neutral hues, glass tables, contemporary seating, all working wonderfully with the classic wall-coverings and fabrics I have always loved. As I walked from room to room, I was almost willing myself not to like it and I felt as though I was betraying a style I had always known. I began to think of John Fowler..what would his thoughts be on this new image for his creation? And then I realised that this is exactly how it would look if he were alive today.

Some people may think I am somewhat behind in my discovery and maybe you are right. However, I have only ever lived full time in Britain and decorated classic English homes for people who wanted the authentic 'Country House' look. In many interiors, this contemporary classic style would not work. Indeed in my own home, a late nineteenth century country house, I believe it would go against the bones of the building and look quite strange with sisal carpet and painted faux bamboo. This is not to say I didn't go from room to room contemplating whether or not it could work after being enchanted by my visit to Colefax and Fowler!

Luckily I have been planning a project for some time now that will allow me to put my new discovery into action and create a home that can incorporate this classic contemporary look with style. Later this year I will be travelling to the Cayman Islands to view several plots of land with the intention of building a home for myself. I have always hated cold weather and had been thinking seriously about finding a place to escape to in the midst of the Winter. After eighteen months of searching for a property it became clear that the only way to get the house I had envisaged would be to build my own. 

Before visiting Colefax and Fowler at Brook Street, I will admit I was struggling to imagine the style of interior that would be suitable for my Caribbean House. I certainly knew that a house full of frills and chintz would not work, however I also would not cope living in a beach style house with nautical stripes and shells everywhere! Since my visit I have been absorbed in exploring this 'new classic' look and would like to share with you some more sources of inspiration. 

This American style home is what I had been dreaming of but could not find. I had always admired Jacqueline Kennedy's 'Red Gate Farm' on Martha's Vineyard - perhaps the biggest inspiration for the house I would like to build.

I have always loved the beautiful, white American homes like this one above and believe that this style would fit best into the Cayman landscape.  The symmetry and solid architecture is what I am used to and what I think is most pleasing to the eye. I want a house that will take advantage of the wonderful light that this type of climate provides and these Georgian sash windows are a perfect way to achieve this aim whilst maintaining elegance. 

'Beauty at Home' by Aerin Lauder has been a great source of inspiration for me. In particular Aerin's home in the Hamptons really proves that you can take aspects of the past and bring them to the future in the most tasteful and charming way. Aerin inherited the house from her Grandmother EsteĆ© Lauder and wanted to create a home that would work for her but also keep alive the memory of a house created by her beloved relative. 
From the book 'Beauty at Home' by Aerin Lauder. These rooms are classic examples of how Aerin has incorporated her Grandmothers taste to suit her own. Using EsteƩ's favourite blue and white in a contemporary, fresh way.

Another wonderful book and great source of inspiration for me has been 'The Age Of Elegance' by Alex Papachristidis. I had seen some of the interiors created by Alex on Instagram and knew that I had to order the book. As you will see, Mr Papachristidis is the master of this 'new classic' look that I have been preaching and the rooms he has created are exquisite. I particularly love his use of texture and pattern which bring such warmth to a room. 

Hallway Inspiration. Classic but contemporary - the textured carpet, the patterned ottoman and the lined walls are just perfect, in my eyes.
A bedroom to dream in. Texture and pattern working wonderfully

I have always championed Howard Slatkin's incredible book 'Fifth Avenue Style' and its endless source of inspiration. When I was thinking about Powder rooms and Bathrooms for my Caribbean house I immediately thought of Howard and his Guest Bath at his Fifth Avenue apartment. Howard certainly knows how to create jewel like bathrooms and this one below is especially exquisite with its Ivory hardware and pale blush marble. 

The Guest Bath created by Howard Slatkin which features in his wonderful book 'Fifth Avenue Style'

Another of Howard's incredible bathrooms
This hardware from P.E Guerin is perfect for a house by the sea, don't you think?

As I draw to the end of this post I would like to share with you my Pinterest account which can be reached here. If you would like to see more of the inspiration I have found for my new project in the Carribean there is a board devoted to this entitled 'Cayman House.' I actually spent a great deal of time myself looking through the thousands of images I have 'pinned' over the years. It is so interesting to see the images I had liked in the beginning that I now do not really care for! This is the evolution of taste and I am learning to embrace it.  

For those of you who are worried I may have abandoned my love of pure English interiors, fear not, when I finally reached that famous yellow room tucked away at the back of Colefax and Fowler I was once again reminded of why I fell in love with interior design. 

Please feel free to comment: I would love to know how you feel about more contemporary style or of any examples where your tastes have been challenged!

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