When the good people at the House & Garden Festival asked if I'd like to be one of three UK interior bloggers creating a Style Room at the event later this month, I was all, HELL YES! I love a challenge, and creating a stylish room set 5.5m X 4.5m smack bang at the front of Kensington Olympia's Great Hall, a week before I permanently moved the entire family from Edinburgh to London seemed like a good one (sweating-yet-smiling emoji).
And I was right - the process HAS been pretty full on (and the Festival hasn't even started yet - it runs from 21-24 June), but I feel I've done the most difficult part, which is coming up with the idea, planning the room layout and sourcing all the products.
So here's the concept behind my Style Room, complete with the moodboard I created, and a floorplan sketch by Anita Brown 3D Visualisation:
THE PINK HOUSE STYLE ROOM: The Home Hotel
This is a beautiful small space living room designed to behave like a bar. As a parent, it can be hard to get out as much as you used to, so if you can’t get to that trendy bar or swanky hotel, why not create a glamorous space where the minibar can come to you! This room will have all the luxury of a beautifully designed boutique hotel room, with the attitude of a cool members club.
Let me explain the process I went through to get to this stage, starting with the walls...
I've visited various trade shows, and the one overwhelming impression I tend to get from them all is the expanse of beige. Beige is EVERYWHERE. And I really hate beige. But what better way to fight the beige while gaining a luxe boutique-y feel than slapping on some fabulous wallpaper. I love the way colour pops against darker shades and I wanted to experiment with darker blues, having mainly used greys in my current house. Plus navy blue with pink is one of my all-time-fave colour combos, and I knew I wanted plenty of pink in my Style Room (obvs).
One of the main Style Room rules we bloggers (my fellow Style Roomers are 2 Lovely Gays and the Interior Style Hunter) are supposed to follow, is using mainly products from exhibitors at the event. So I started trawling the list of hundreds of exhibitors, trying to source the perfect wallpaper. Then, mid-trawl, I got an email from Juliet Travers, owner of the eponymous designer wallpaper brand and one of the exhibitors. She was a fan of The Pink House's style; would I like to use one for her wallpapers in my Style Room?
Now, I'm a big believer in collaborating with people who a) believe in YOU, and b) have the drive to actively seek out opportunities. And then I saw Juliet's stunning dark blue Nutcracker wallpaper, complete with tiny gold oak leaves and squirrels, and it was a done deal. This wallpaper is PERFECT for setting the boutique bar scene and banishing the beige.
Walls sorted, it was fairly easy to decide on the carpet colour (baby pink; not too in-your-face, but still makes a statement and pairs perfectly with the walls) which I picked from a colour chart provided by the organisers. But I didn't want to stop there. As part of my bid to create a luxe, cosy, layered look, which would have visitors to my stand deciding to simply stay there instead of venturing any further into the Festival, I knew I needed rugs. And not just any rugs: high quality, eye-catching, tactile, interesting rugs, ideally with shots of pink.
Enter Francesca Gentilli and her rugs of dreams. As soon as I saw this Ittu Beni Ourain Moroccan rug with its hot pink detailing I knew it would fit perfectly in my space - I love how the traditional design is teamed with contemporary bright pink (my all-time favourite colour); this combo of old with the bright and new basically sums up my approach to interior decor.
I then asked Francesca if she might have any other rugs that were similarly wow-factor, and gave a few examples. She replied saying I could also borrow THIS Bibya Boucherouite beauty:
Because I loved this rug so much too, I knew I needed to make it work in the space somehow. Then it came to me: while the pink Beni Ourain could sit in the centre of the room surrounded by soft furnishings, this rug could provide a zoned space for what I knew had to be the focal point of the room. Because you can't have a swanky drinking den without a bar, right? And I had something rather special in mind...
If you've been a Pink House Guest for a while, you'll probably know I have an obsession with Buster + Punch. My kitchen is dripping with their heavy brass handles, and I have one of their stunning Hooked lamps suspended over the kitchen table. Then there are the brass candle holders...But probably the one Buster + Punch item I love and covet the most is their extraordinary Rockstar whisky bar.
This beauty is handmade in the UK from solid American walnut with a grey berry silk back panel, knurled brass light fitting, brass buttons and knurled brass furniture handles. It's drop-dead gorgeous.
But would Buster + Punch lend it to me for my Style Room? I held my breath for about two days before the reply came...they WOULD! That's when I knew the Style Room would be a success. Here she is (sigh!):
The Soft Furnishings
I knew I wanted a nice big sofa and two comfy armchairs to encourage people to lounge and chat. With all the elements above in place, I had an idea of the colours I was after: navy, orange and/or pink. I also knew I wanted plenty of velvet to add to the sumptuous, decadent feel. And I knew who could help me - one of my faves, Sofas & Stuff, who donated the incredible pink velvet armchair I gave away as an Instagram prize on The Pink House's 1st birthday back in March.
Sofas & Stuff delivered in every sense of the word, coming up with a bright orange velvet sofa - the Matlock large sofa in Designers Guild Varese Zinnia, and two slightly mismatched navy velvet armchairs: the Kentwell chair in Portland Navy velvet, and the Coates chair in Milan Velvet Artists Blue. They apologised for not having two matching chairs available to lend me, but I thought the lack of perfect symmetry would give more of a real, lived-in feel to the Style Room. There's not much I dislike more, decor-wise, than that matchy-matchy showroom aesthetic. We're real imperfect people and we want to live in real, imperfect homes.
Here's a pic of a similar orange velvet Sofas & Stuff sofa, to give you a feel - the one I'm borrowing is EVEN brighter!
The rest of the furniture fell into place nicely, thanks to some super-helpful exhibitors with stunning products. There's Villiers, who are lending me both the Inca and the Roman super luxe console tables, which are sure to up the room's wow-factor no end. And Benchmark Furniture who are providing the Lear Sideboard, which is made of walnut and brass (to tie in with the Rockstar) and will also be extremely useful for storing any random stuff I don't want cluttering up the space (chocolate/shoes/chocolate).
When I saw Pooky was exhibiting at the House & Garden Festival I knew I had to incorporate their lights into my scheme somehow. Unlike so many lighting companies with same-old dull designs, these guys manage to produce bright, fun shades and bases, without them ever feeling cheap or gaudy. I especially love their Ikat and handblocked printed shades - I have three in my own home, in fact. So it was easy work to find Coronet floor lamps that pick up on the orange in the sofa and rug, and gorgeous marble-and-brass Crescent table lamps with blue shades to complement the walls and armchairs.
As a fabulous finishing touch, to set the whole room a-sparkle like a kind of upmarket disco ball, I sourced a chandelier from Vintage Wonderland Chandeliers and it is A. Maze. Ing:
Time for the really fun bit - adding the accessories that bring the room to life. So I have sourced...
Pink-and-blue cushions from the selection of beautiful homeware from Burma brought to the UK by Kalinko - these and these - plus their pink rattan planters, ice coolers (every bar needs them) and coasters.
Cushions from the amazing Fine Cell Work, a social enterprise that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework undertaken in the long hours spent in their cells to foster hope, discipline and self-esteem. They are supported in their endeavours by no less an interior genius than Kit Kemp; you can find Fine Cell Work's beautiful designs in her Firmdale Hotels. I'm borrowing two gorgeous cushions: the Pineapple (pineapples are ALWAYS a good idea) and the London Skyline (it felt appropriate, given my big house move).
I know what you're thinking: it's all very well creating a boutique hotel-inspired bar, but where's the BOOZE? Never fear - it's here. The Pink House is teaming up with our good friends Pinkster gin, who are not only supplying plenty of bottles of their raspberry-infused booze to the Style Room, but have also come up with a special Pinkster + The Pink House cocktail recipe, which will be available on special postcards, unique to this event, and The Pink House's Style Room.
I'm also trying to conjure up a) some tonic, b) some ice, and c) a fridge in order to actually hand out pink G&Ts. How will I get on...you'll have to come and see me to find out! But I am pretty persistent...
And finally, a few words about the wonderful Anita, from Anita Brown 3D Visualisation, who created the beautiful watercolour room sketch and floor plan for me, from my designs.
Not only does Anita run her 3D Visualisation business, she also teaches interior design professionals and students how to create their own floor plans and elevations using the SketchUp online learning platform - find out more HERE. Anita has a background in interior design and studied with the National Design Academy, which is why she's so well placed to deliver her SketchUp online courses.
Registration on Anita's Sketchup Hub website is free and everyone who registers will automatically be enrolled on the first course - called The SketchUp Interface - for FREE. And it doesn't matter where you live - all the courses are delivered using HD and mobile responsive video tutorials, using screen capture software, so students can follow along.
The House & Garden Festival runs from Wed 21 June to Saturday 24 June - I'd love to see you there. Oh, and I'm taking part in a panel discussion at 1pm on Thursday 22 June with House & Garden's online editor Emily Senior - do come along if you're there!