It has been like an episode of Changing Rooms in my home this weekend. Sadly, I played the part of flustered designer rather than that of the homeowner, sent away for the weekend whilst the transformations take place. After last week’s Fashion on Friday, I decided to ‘break ground’ on improvements to my dressing room.
The mega-wardrobes are ordered… but more on that later.
Aside from being a tantalising glimpse at how I would have looked, had I been born male, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has been something of a spirit animal this weekend. In fact, I think the stylings of LLB have permeated my interior design choices for as long as I have been allowed to make them.
The first time I was allowed to decorate my own room, at the age of 15, I painted the walls Cadbury purple and the skirting boards metallic silver. It is entirely plausible to deduce that I wanted to live in a bar of chocolate. My poor Mother has quite the task to paint over this with her own paler shade once I had moved out! Funnily enough, the one design choice that my Mother kept was the one that I was most proud of; a slice of purple geode, given to me by a friend, fit perfectly around the light switch and I loved this sparkly detail.
I still love a sparkly detail and an element of ‘too muchness’ that forever puts me in mind of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. Changing Rooms was a show that I always enjoyed, kicking off a national obsession with interiors that has not abated, and I loved the episodes when Laurence was at the design helm. I knew that he was not afraid to bring drama into other people’s homes!
When I think of LLB, I still think of damask prints, baroque styling, and deep colours. It is perhaps unfair to reduce the work of a designer down to three words but it is these that have given Chris and I the watch-words for our own interior design. The first job that we have undertaken in every home we have shared is that of de-magnolia-ing, bringing in our own deep colours, damask prints, and baroque styling. We often describe our home as what happens when recovering goths are allowed to decorate!
The influence of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is felt, not only in the overall styles that we choose, but in a few of his own designs. It perhaps goes without saying that, loving the man’s style as I do, those items designed by LLB are right up my street. Our dressy cutlery set was designed by Laurence for Arthur Price and I love it.
Chris is not so fond as the knives are REALLY heavy and they are forever being dropped with no small drama whenever we have people over. They are hugely impractical but they are beautiful. I have no problem with this!
Everything designed by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would be happier to be described as beautiful than functional and this is something that I have been thinking about as I redecorate my dressing room. As I became frustrated with wallpaper patterns that refused to line up and considered throwing a bit of a tantrum, I reminded myself of the following: firstly, I am 35 years old and tantrums are generally frowned upon at this advanced age, secondly, the paper is truly stunning and perfect for the Art Deco early-Hollywood look that I want, and thirdly, that this room is entirely frivolous and decadent and for my use only. That last point makes any grumpiness melt away as I imagine the finished room, a haven for all things glamorous, a place to get dressed and put on my make-up and pretend to be Jean Harlow (Mae West when I’m feeling sassy, Marilyn Monroe when I’m feeling cute). I am creating a room dedicated to glamour.
I have been lucky enough to bake for Laurence on a few occasions, through demonstrating at The Ideal Home Show. The first time I met Laurence, I took him a cake to say thank you for inspiring me – see, this blog series does come from an actual desire to say thank you with cake! He was very kind and generous with his time, letting me pose for one of the several MILLION photos that he would have been asked for over the course of the show.
Before the next IHS took place, I had been contacted by the LLB office asking if I would design two cakes to be displayed in each of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s show rooms at the show. I was very happy to oblige and designed two cakes, one to sit in a room themed ‘sugar and spice’, and the other to sit in a room themed ‘slugs and snails’. For the first, I went with a birdcage style and for the second, I used heraldry to create a masculine glamour.
One encounter stuck with me and that was on load-in day, as I delivered the cakes to Earl’s Court. I had not assumed that Laurence would be present for the installation of his designs but he was. You would perhaps imagine that one would install a room set in jeans and a t-shirt or overalls but not Laurence – I may well have embellished this story over the years in my mind but I am sure that Laurence was not only suited but that the suit was a full brocade. That’s my story and I am sticking to it! Regardless of the fabric, there was definitely a suit in the place where a lesser gentleman would be dressed for practicality.
Herein lies the reason why I would most like to bake a cake for Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, again today, tomorrow, and any time that he so desired, for reminding me that our dress and surroundings should at all times be beautiful first. I dare say that my wallpaper tantrums will be soon forgotten in the years ahead as I enjoy my dressing room. The current mess and disorganisation (which anyone who knows me will know how much I hate and despise) will be ordered and settled within a week or two.
For more examples of beauty and glamour above all things, click here to visit the LLB website and make your home somewhere that excites you every day.