If there is one positive thing to take from 2020 it is the year that we became really grateful for our homes.
There may have been times when we recognised its shortcomings as we struggled to accommodate children, parents and working from home. We may have lamented the lack of a garden, but ultimately our homes became our sanctuary, somewhere to escape from the world, to create our own bubble.
Our working patterns have changed for many of us; discovering the joy of the short commute from bed to desk, moving away from air-conditioned offices to embracing the freedom to open the windows and let fresh air in.
As we move further into 2021, and the recognition that working from home may become a more permanent factor in our lives; it may be time to look at our interiors in a different way.
As a source of inspiration there are two books that filled us with absolute delight when they arrived:
Bold British Design – Modern living spaces to inspire fearlessness and creativity by Emilio Pimentel-Reid – Sarah Hogan
Still – The Slow Home – Natalie Walton
What we loved about both was that there were many varied examples of how to adapt and use your home to express your personality, but also to meet the realities of day-to-day living.
In Bold British Design – Modern living spaces to inspire fearlessness and creativity, the author Emilio Pimentel-Reid and photographer Sarah Hogan have selected interiors both small and larger spaces where…..
‘Their owners make use of old and new, mass-produced and crafted products, colour and monochrome palettes. They range from the quietly refined to the eclectic with a hint of luxury; many break design rules and achieve inspiring results.’
The content is a mixture of structured interviews and narrative, full of personal contributions and advice for those looking to create their own interiors. The photography throughout is in full colour and illustrates beautifully the content.
This is an absolutely fascinating book, bursting with creative ideas and inspiration and full of advice about how to achieve your own beautiful interiors.
We loved the in-depth interviews with the creative tastemakers; this is a book that deserves to be read from cover-to-cover as each person shares their insights into how they have created their space.
Furniture and Homeware Designer Bethan Gray, offers advice to those wishing to bring out their own personality in their home
‘A lot of it is about having the confidence to buy what resonates with you and makes you feel good. Make a mood board to see how the things you like work together – and get hold of samples, or see things in real life before buying. I’m very visual and like touching and feeling everything. Choose things that you have a connection with. There’s no right or wrong; it’s your home and you need to be comfortable in it’
Many of those interviewed talk about taking inspiration from previous decades, for example visiting National Trust and English Heritage properties, other historic houses, museums such as the Victoria & Albert Museum (V & A) and some of this information is included in a really useful resource list at the back of the book.
We loved the description by Lucy Hammond Giles, a Decorator at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, of how she encourages her children to be interested in the history of houses:
‘To find inspiration I like going to old houses…..I usually drag the children because I think it’s good for them. The more you can see from a young age the more you understand that there is no right or wrong way to live. There are just different ways to live”
Lucy’s style is elegant, comfortable and relaxed, and very relevant to modern day living especially in the current climate where we are all having to adjust our ways of living in our homes.
‘The key elements to an interior, in addition to good proportion, are having good light which makes you feel joyful; and ensuring that everything works for its intended purpose’ reveals Lucy, ‘Our kitchen is where we spend most of our time. The space needed to be a kitchen, dining room and play room. The dining table needed to be not just for eating, but also for sitting at. Our kitchen is more than utilitarian, it’s a kids’ play area shared with grown-ups. All has to be well considered and quite democratic as everyone has to be able to use it’
What is both inspiring and encouraging is how many of those featured expressed a belief that design rules are made to be broken.
Collector and Antiques Dealer, Guy Tobin, shares a view with refreshing honesty,
‘I never learned any decorating rules, so I fear I have no doubt broken them. My space came together as a cohesive accident’
This is very similar to the comment by Emilio Pimentel – Reid himself,
‘Not being trained as an interior or product designer I am not someone who follows rules. I go by what my eye tells me feels right. This approach probably comes from having an interest in rooms and how people live. There are certainly elements of balance, proportion and comfort to consider…..
British interiors are still evolving in varied directions and they are all valid. Whether modern, clean and hyper-edited, traditional or colourful, many of us are looking to break free from prescribed concepts of how we should live’
This stunning book is packed full of inspiring interiors and styles that illustrate just how to achieve this freedom.
The second book is Still: The Slow Home, which explores the central ideas of the slow movement, and how we adapt them to make positive changes in our homes for a better life.
From a journey that spans twenty homes across the world, writer Natalie Walton and photographer Chris Warnes show us that there are many paths to create more sustainable spaces. Each story is different, but home is at the heart of all of them.
As is explained in the introduction,
‘Living mindfully is the central tenet of the slow philosophy, which encourages SLOW – Sustainable, Local, Organic, Whole – choices.’
Reminding us that it’s more than thirty years since the creation of the slow movement, the author asks,
‘So are we eating simpler, working less, sleeping longer, being more community minded? How can we make positive change in our lives? We can start by asking the right questions – which can help us consider what drives our decisions. When we have a clear understanding of our why, it is much easier to make meaningful change and stay the course. When we simplify from the inside out – rather than attempting quick-fix solutions from the outside in – the changes we embrace become systemic, rather than just surface-based. And by communicating about the steps we take, even if we just talk to one person, we can help spread the word and start to change the world.’
We loved the keys steps to Slow Living:
Create a vision
Develop a value framework
Find our why
Focus on priorities
Live in the now
Embrace SLOW living one step at a time.
Each step is defined and is so very relevant in all our lives.
This beautiful book includes studies of inspirational interiors designed according to the SLOW principles. The owners explain why they chose this path and how it has benefited their lives.
As well as describing how they have created their homes, the owners also all respond in an individual way to a set of questions, e.g.
When I do less
When I disconnect
I have learnt to live without
I have set boundaries around
My Life feels meaningful when
And they also give personal examples of how they have embraced Slow – Sustainable, Local, Organic, and Whole
Each study is supported by beautiful photography by Chris Warnes and throughout the book there are additional thoughtful insights e.g. Finding our Truth, The Slow Renovation, Letting Go, The Reimagined Home, Time Honoured Methods, written by some of the home owners.
Taken together these two books are full of inspiring and uplifting messages to encourage every reader to experiment and have faith in their ability to create a home that really reflects their personality. Both are Highly Recommended!
Bold British Design – Modern living spaces to inspire fearlessness and creativity by Emilio Pimentel-Reid, Sarah Hogan
Description: Bold British Design sees tastemakers at the epicentre of British interior design share their exclusive vision and inspiration for achieving a bold interior, inspiring you to create your own original, fearless home.
Designers the world over are increasingly looking to British creatives to combine heritage and history with wit, modernity and attitude. Interiors Editor Emilio Pimentel-Reid and photographer Sarah Hogan have gained exclusive access to the studios, homes and mood boards of 20 top British creatives.
With the interiors creating a visual conversation through the rooms of the houses and creative spaces, the authors reveal the history, craftsmanship, key elements and inspiration that went into creating these very personal and stylish spaces.
Featuring the studios and relaxed family homes of artists including furniture designers Sebastian Cox and Bethan Gray, ceramicist Hitomi Hosono, interior designer Lucy Hammond Giles, names to watch Yinka Ilori and Hal Messel and antiques dealer Guy Tobin, Bold British Design shows how a new generation is breaking new ground in interior style and decor.
Published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd
Still: The Slow Home Natalie Walton
Description: Still is a stunningly photographed interiors book that invites readers to take on the philosophy of the SLOW movement. Living Sustainably. Local. Organic. And Whole.
Still features 20 in depth studies of inspirational interiors designed according to the SLOW principles. The owners explain why they chose this path and how it has benefited their lives. All of the homes have been exclusively photographed by renowned interiors photographer Chris Warnes. The book features homes from Australia, Europe, North America, South America, and North Africa, offering readers the opportunity to see outstanding examples of SLOW interiors from all over the world. Immerse yourself in these tranquil spaces.
Published by Hardie Grant Books
Bold British Design
Modern living spaces to inspire fearlessness and creativity
Emilio Pimentel-Reid Sarah Hogan
Published by Quadrille Publishing Ltd
The Slow Home
Published by Hardie Grant Books
Books also available from all good independent book shops
This feature originally appeared in Hot Brands Cool Places Winter Issue magazine