Baroque opulence at the London Design Shows

Every September, by force of habit, I find myself searching for that key trend in the new collections in the London design shows. This year it almost pounced up and bit me – Chiaroscuro is the order of the season. Be it in the stunning grouping of dark green foliage tones, as in the Forest design from Cole & Son wallpaper on display at Focus in Chelsea Harbour or the strong contrasts of colour in the beautiful Wildwood collection by Parker & Jules, showing at Decorex this year for the first time. The contrast of light and shade dominates across both the  home furnishing and fashion collections this season.

Cole & Son wallpaper
Cole & Son Wallpaper
Parker & Jules.
Parker & Jules

The continuing trend for dark wall tones, from petrol blues through to rich jade greens makes perfect backdrops for dramatic lighting as seen in the moody stand by Ochre at Design Junction and at Vaughn’s stunning Decorex display. Farrow and Ball have released new colours including Paean black , a red-toned black and De Nimes, a deep washed denim colour, both of which give a rich backdrop to their warmer colours in the new palette. Little Greene, also have deep forest colours in their new ‘Green’  range which showcased at Decorex, with a display of rich foliage and their new wallpaper collection based on historical designs.

Ochre lighting
Ochre Lighting
Little Greene Paints
Little Greene paint colours

Rembrandt and Caravaggio would have been delighted to witness their influence in the interior design industry with deep shades contrasted with flashes of bright colour highlighting the drama that colour can create in a room. The House of Hackney exemplified this in their Pop-up in Chelsea Harbour Design Centre for Focus 2018. A baroque display of their papers and textiles gave a much needed touch of drama to the show. The stunning display of passementerie from Watts of Westminster was a show stopper at Decorex, as well as Focus, the sumptuous hand crafted braids and tassels carry their rich colours with the elegance and confidence of an experienced courtier .

House of Hackney


Watts of Westminster
Watts of Westminster

With the focus on rich greens, of course the jungle plays it’s part and several design companies featured exotic foliage and fauna. Charlotte Jade presented textiles and wallpaper drawing upon the influences of the tropics and echoed the foliage trend seen at many companies.

Charlotte Jade
Charlotte Jade


House of Hackney

Immersed  in all the deep, rich foliage I couldn’t help wondering what will come next? It struck me that to every action there will be a reaction, and that the hot colours which are currently only seen as highlights in these deep colour schemes must soon come to the fore, and then I visited the London Design Festival at the Truman Brewery, a very different tropical animal indeed. Those hot pinks and golden yellows that were just peeking through the darker forests in West London came out with a burst of joy and here we go – what comes next might well be a tropical paradise, of a very different sort.

Haru. "Stuck-on design"
Haru Stuck-on design 


Jacob Monk
Jacob Monk


A niche in the sun

A recent sojourn in France made me appreciate all those little corners of tranquility in our still unfinished renovation project. Despite the uneven surfaces, occasional damp, and never quite straight or square architectural idiosyncracies of a French farm house, I do love revisiting those little corners so often suffused with sunlight.

There is a constant pattern of evolving decor in our little house, and these changes are often led by new finds from the local French Brocante markets, or objects collected on country walks. We started by painting everything white in an attempt to rid the house of the ‘beige, dust and tobacco’ colour scheme of the previous inhabitants! Major construction work has necessitated minimal decoration until now, but we are constantly seeking inspiration  for that next exciting phase when we actually get to add more colour to the space. Drawers full of colour chips and wallpaper samples have built up over the years and files of inspirational magazine cuttings and colour reference images show our changing tastes over the incredibly long journey to this point. We have moved from minimal white to ‘holiday home’ colours; lobster pink, mediterranean blue, apple green. These have given way to natural clay paints, traditional ‘French grey’ woodwork and antique whites contrasted with a rich metallic sheen bronze wall covering, deep red walls and raw pink plasterwork in our cosy dining room, inspired by an ancient flocked velvet picture frame.


I was delighted to find that the Paint and Paper Library has been relaunched with a whole new gamut of colours, what bliss, a whole new opportunity to re-colour our house!

Paint and Paper Library. New colour card


The card is made up of two distinct palettes, for easy use. The top half is of what they call ‘Architectural Colours’, essentially variations on the theme of white, these are designed to complement the 85 ‘Original Colours’ by either simply moving down the column of colours for monochromatic schemes, or by contrasting with a diagonal shift across the spectrum.

Our bread oven serves as a perfect wine store and cookery book shelf.

Our kitchen has a fantastic old brick dome bread oven as it’s feature, it holds a pretty constant cool temperature and we use it to store wine and soft drinks, not chilled, but cool to the palate in the summer months. We have been searching for a soft, but contemporary white to complement the natural exposed stone, I think we might just find it in this collection, the architect’s emulsion is matt, flat and washable; perfect for a busy country kitchen.

Our house is overrun with mini corners of curiosities, collections of heart shaped stones, seeds or dried leaves, boxes full of pretty birds nests, brocante finds and odd shaped pieces of wood or branches. It would be easy to clutter the house with all this, so we are on a strict rotation, rearranging  and sorting with every season, and each time we rediscover our treasures it’s like meeting up with old friends.


In an attempt to keep as many original features as possible in the house, we have retained the original windows and doors where possible. Decades of paint have stories to tell, and I love the way that the old drips and layers of paint are apparent even through our top coat of gloss. I’m sure interior decorators will be throwing up their hands in horror, but I’m proud of the rustic story behind our walls!

One of my greatest pleasures is the transformation of a very dirty old attic into our spacious bedroom, the quality of light is pure bliss, and we have deliberately kept the space clean and open. However I am tempted to bring a little warmth to the colour scheme, and love the Paint and Paper Library’s combination of cool teal ‘Spur’ with the warmth of their ‘Plaster V’, so maybe a little area of warmth in the bedroom might be a good move with the next decorating splurge.

Paint & Paper Library
Paint and Paper Library