02 Jul 2015
Creating Comfort: Part II
What makes us connect with an interior? What leaves us cold?
For me, I know that an honest, authentic room that conveys some of the owners' personality, life experience (a photo, an art work, a memento, a throw or cushion cover, a threadbare Persian carpet) is one which rings true with me.
It is an art, getting the right mix: but once it is there the soul of the home is created. I love visiting one of my friend's homes in Kloof, near Durban. It has brightly painted walls, strong printed fabric - many vivid florals, an avocado green coloured kitchen, it has lots of books piled up throughout the house, a beautiful old bath set on wooden floors. It has pressed ceilings and a wrap around verandah scattered with comfortable sofas. It is completely informal and it sort of wraps you in its warm way as you enter. You know you are going to enjoy being in that space.
Another home I know well has grey marble floors throughout its cavernous belly, angular lines, white walls and blue, grey fabrics and white curtains. It couldn't be sharper if it tried. It also gets quite cold. But it provides a stage for impressive entertainment, meals and conversations. It has a runway type dingingroom table that takes pivots around the interior as it gets moved according to seasons and functions. It gets split apart, pushed together, made into a t-shape. It is ready for action and welcomes it. The home is a veritable train station and its many doors and openings to a the garden provide for the flow of energy, arguments, running dogs and cricket balls that may be flying around at any one time. It also has an impressive art collection which is thrilling as it also gets moved around regularly so you will not be sure which masterpiece will greet you around each corner.
I remember my grandparents' flat in Sea Point. They retired to a small two bedroomed apartment in London Road. It was immaculate and everything fitted in just so. I can remember the velvet covered chairs and elegant nest of tables that would be fanned out when we visited. Coasters please. The glass table lamp base, which I now have. There were a few oil paintings which lit up the walls and blue and white striped tinned cannisters holding the sugar, rice and flour lined up in the kitchen.
The old Boshimela, the house that Bob & Coral built was a delicate balance of worn, functional luxury, vintage fabrics and a home where everything had been used well for many years. It had an atmosphere of a faded, colonial era which no longer existed, while the house still did. But it was filled with colour, patina and footsteps worn into the paths, wooden floors and terracotta tiles. It was a masterfully decorated home, without being decorated at all. It had no artiface, but the worn, cane chairs on the verandah with the sun faded fabric did their job as they had done for the last twenty or more years.
A good friend has a 200 year old home in rural Vermont. It is a like something out of a picture book, complete with the Stars and Stripes flying outside. But it is tucked up on a clearing surrounded by indigenous Birch trees, and it has a rickety barn, a green lawn and it is entirely memorable. The interior is all creaky floors, sash windows and small doorways. Real, beautiful fire places and a screen door. It's just full of stuff: from plump cushions, piles of books and journals, doillies and photographs. It even has a snuggery, which I am sure in winter is very useful.
Interior design is beyond appearance and presentation. It is about how good a room makes you feel. That's what I strive for.