What inspired you to write your wonderful new book At Home with Country?
Cabbages & Roses are well known for their dreamy faded floral prints and people automatically assume they fit perfectly into country cottages, we wanted to show that our prints and fabrics slip very happily into any situation – a city apartment, a beach house, a houseboat on the River Thames really almost anywhere!
In your book, At Home With Country, you have shown us that your fabric
designs can look fabulous in any style of home. Do you have a favorite
style of home that you prefer to work with?
At the moment I like a challenge i.e. it is very easy to make a beautiful room in a perfect country cottage, I am enjoying the challenge of designing fabrics to furnish a stately home or a minimalist modern city apartment or a wooden shed! In short I like doing the unexpected and stretching the boundaries.
A lot of us dream of living in an old English styled country home, but reality is we live in a new home. How do you give a new home a feeling of being an old English styled country home?
By doing away with straight lines and perfect finishes – I once did up a home which was 15th century but we made a lot of new additions so we had to make the new bits look old – we rounded off the plaster finishes and made them imperfect, we sanded areas on the new stone steps so that they looked worn – basically somehow knock off the smart edges! Wallpaper is a great help in softening hard lines, historic paint colours with their subtle tones and fill with vintage artifacts.
In your opinion what is the right way to decorate with whites in an English country style home?
By using different tones of white – Farrow & Ball have many versions of white – chalky white, old white, strong white – all the white tones used in different areas have a lovely effect. White is a very dramatic colour when used in an expansive way. By adding vintage or antique white textiles, such as the old hand woven French sheets, adds lovely texture and a sense of history. We very often wash products that have been made for us and dry them out in the fresh air – we never iron our textiles, they have a lovely pre-loved quality after washing. Whatever advice I give the ultimate quest is for a relaxed attitude. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and boundaries and rules are broken, I encourage you to do the same. If you love it – go for it!
What do you think is the biggest mistake people make when decorating their homes with whites?
To forget that a room needs layers and texture and for a really Cabbages & Roses look, pieces of vintage furniture. The biggest mistake is to never expect to make a mistake. The best interior decorators make mistakes too – if you learn from your mistake then it will be worth while. If you continue to make the same mistake then I would perhaps give up!
Do you have a favorite paint color that you find works really well as a
backdrop, when decorating with whites?
My all time favourite paint colour is strong white from Farrow & Ball – it works with all our fabrics whether they are on a white ground or a natural linen ground. It has a chalky grey hue and is quite perfect.
Has designing always been a lifelong passion of yours?
I think so. Very often what I really wanted didn’t exist so I got it made or made it myself. I think this is what Cabbages & Roses has become – it is certainly how it started. When I was an interior decorator, the fabrics that I really loved were the old faded fabrics that I found in antique shops – these were usually small scraps but so beautiful. With this gap in the market we filled it by reproducing fabrics – ready faded.
The clothing side of the business has grown for the same reason – the inability to find clothes that I liked!
Do you have a favorite Cabbages and Roses design?
Strangely, it is still the very first fabric that we produced – Bees. It had somewhat fallen off my radar recently, but I noticed it the other day and completely fell in love with it all over again.
Do you have a favorite rose?
The Constance Spry is one of my favourites (I have many) but it is prolific and beautifully scented and old fashioned.
What is the one thing you hope readers will walk away with after reading your inspiring book, At Home with Country?
That Cabbages & Roses really does fit in anywhere, whatever type of house you live in, there will be a place to incorporate Cabbages & Roses.