I’m very excited to bring you a special edition of 10 Beautiful Rooms featuring images from the new book by Rockett St George, aka Jane Rockett and Lucy St George, Extraordinary Interiors. I have known both of them for years and first met Lucy about a week after I had featured their site in The Independent when I complimented a woman outside my local Budgens on her fabulous gold handbag. “It’s from my own website,” she said modestly when I asked. Since then I have seen them many times, bought lots of their wares and am proud to champion them as innovators with their own distinctive look that has been much imitated.
And now they have written a book, some 10 years after the site was founded. It is, says the introduction, about motivating you to be adventurous and helping to you plan so you can achieve an interior that dreams are made of.
“Make it personal, be brave, style one step at a time, and enjoy every minute,” they urge.
Indeed making it personal is the first chapter of the book: look at your style and how you want to use the room before you decide on paint or wallpaper. And Jane speaks from experience, having had her bedroom wallpapered at great expense in gorgeous paper only to return home from work and realise she hated it because it didn’t make her feel comfortable in the space.
Their advice: “Have a good long think about who you are, what makes you happy and how you live your life” and they provide a list of questions that will help you to work this out.
Next they advise you to take inspiration from everywhere and that includes the colour combinations of an old movie to a piece of wrapping paper via books and magazines, instagram and blogs and I will admit to being enormously excited to reach page 39 and discover The Mad House listed as one of their favourite blogs and no I didn’t know in advance about that chapter.
Once you know your personal style and have scoured the internet and the physical world for inspiration, it’s time to start decorating, they say. Which means a few more questions: what do you like in a room and what are its challenges? This allows you to highlight the best bits but also to make a realistic plan about what you plan to do about the bad bits.
Some of the bedrooms in The Mad House, for example, still have woodchip paper on the ceilings. This was a budget issue as we were pretty sure that taking it down would have meant a new ceiling which is an expensive and messy job. In the end we decided to spend the money elsewhere on the basis that we both wear glasses and lying in bed at night we can’t really see the ceiling. Replacing that will be for the people that own this house after us – assuming they are blessed with 20/20 vision.
There is lots of advice, and crucially gorgeous photography, to help you style your space and that is something Lucy and Jane excel at. Their own homes aren’t pictured here for reasons of magazine deals and newspaper serialisations so you’ll have to buy the book if you want to see, but if you’re familiar with their site you will know that their styling game is strong.
Their key advice is to tackle it spot by spot. Create a comfortable corner there, a place to chat here and a gorgeous focal point in another place. “By narrowing your focus and styling a small group of furniture, artwork and lighting you will make a really impactful display… before you know it, the whole room will have been transformed into something wonderful that all hangs together.”
There is specific advice on styling a coffee table and a shelf before moving on to the dressing table and the fireplace. Each chapter is then illustrated with a series of gorgeous pictures from real life homes, some of which will be familiar to you if you are on instagram.
Next up it’s all about the lighting, which is key if you leans towards the dark neutrals. Indeed, Cowboy Kate, whose home is featured in the book and above and in the final image, told me once that she and her husband have a discussion every night about whose turn it is to turn all the lights off as there are so many.
This chapter will take you through all the different types of lighting and explain why you need each one. In brief dimmer and candles are key to atmosphere.
Central to the whole book though, is the idea that you must decorate your home for who you are. Display cherished items, bring in more collections and use them to illustrate who lives in the house. Get that right and you will, indeed, have created the extraordinary interior that is right for you.