365 Objects Of Design

Window Dressing at Heals

1st August 2017

Once upon a time a teenage girl wrote to a big London store asking if she could be a window dresser. The big London store replied and told her to finish school and come back to them if she was still interested. She duly finished school and then got distracted. For about 35 years. And then one day a different big London store wrote to the woman, who was by then very far from her teens, and asked if she would like to dress one of their windows. And the woman wrote back and said: “Hell yeah! How soon can I come round?”

And so we come to the results. Above you see my window for Heals furniture store, Queensway branch, in west London. I hadn’t expected to see my signature in the window, which was probably one of the most Pinch Me moments so far in my career. And has left me wondering if I need to practice my signature.

The window dressing is part of the British Designers at Heals campaign and I was asked along with professional stylist Tiffany Grant-Riley, to dress a window focusing on their British designers. We were given no brief other than that – total freedom in fact. Which was both exciting and daunting at the same time.

Kate Floor Plan Final (1)

I immediately decided I wanted to use the Wallis sofa by Russell Pinch and to create a sitting room. I did wonder about suspending furniture from ceilings and doing something proper arty and all that but let’s be honest – that’s not where my talents lie. Tiffany opted to create a work space in her window. She has also written about her experiences today so if you click the link above you can go and see what she did.

Kate - Watercolour Illustration Final

My original plan was to use this sofa in emerald green but there wasn’t one available in the time scale as they are usually made to order, and once I had visited to site to see the space I was delighted with the blue as the building (a former art deco cinema) has lots of blue decorative features on the outside.

I was also keen to use the blush pink drinks cabinet by Heals Tendeter as I met its creator Matt Elton (at a Heals function) last year and am a huge fan of his work. I needed an armchair to complete the room and the classic Balzac by Matthew Hilton fitted the bill perfectly. Three British designers, three hero pieces and the basic design was in place.

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A few hastily scribbled notes later and the supremely talented Anita Brown  created the plans to show what I was trying to achieve.

Once the three main pieces were selected, it was a question of adding rugs and cushions and dressing the space to finish it off. There are three large windows as you can see and I was keen to integrate them into the space by creating a window seat area in one of them.

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The final touches involved plants, books and vases. I wanted it to look, as far as possible,  as if it was room that you would actually want to sit in or even buy everything and take it home to sit in it there. I even ended up layering rugs, as I have done in my own home, as the one I had chosen wasn’t big enough and so I ran round the store with stylist Jade Lovejoy pulling rugs off racks and out from other pieces of furniture and rearranging them till it looked right. The gorgeous Camille Walalla one that you see in Anita’s plan above wasn’t available (also made to order) so it was a question of making it work with what was there, which is basically how most of us do our houses anyway isn’t it?

FullSizeRender (26)

So here you can see the finished results. I probably won’t be giving any professional window dressers sleepless nights, but it was enormous fun to do and reminded me how much I love arranging furniture and styling spaces for people to live in, which is, after all, mostly what I do.  I’m sure I don’t need to ask you what you think as you will tell me anyway – so be kind.

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And here is Tiffany’s space:

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All images, apart from the one of me on the sofa were taken by Victoria Erdelevskaya and, should you happen to be passing the corner of Westbourne Grove and Queensway then do drop in and have a look. It will be there until 31 August.

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  • Anna 1st August 2017 at 5:26 pm

    No wonder you look satisfied and smiley….if only I could get to see it for real Kate. A round of applause from me.

  • Megan Jerome 1st August 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Congratulations! Great room! AND shoes…I for one would love to know your take on seasonal wardrobes that suit your lifestyle!! Thanks for all the lovely photos and inspiration!

  • Maryellen 1st August 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Congratulations! That is so cool! I love your signature, by the way.

  • Heal's British Designers And The Time I Styled A Window – Curate & Display 1st August 2017 at 1:52 pm

    […] On the other side of the store, Kate set the scene with rich jewel tones and relaxation. Starting with the blue velvet Russell Pinch Wallis sofa, she ramped up the texture with layered rugs, dark leather and marble. Oh, and you need to check out the amazing pink drinks cabinet she used – see more on her journey here. […]

  • Anne Marie 1st August 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Will it be possible to move in there and stay till the 31st of August? Just my kind of place ?

  • Gerry Rust 1st August 2017 at 11:13 am

    Your window makes me want to walk in and sit down, which is exactly what you wanted to achieve – so 10/10 from me. I do a lot of window displays (although not on such a grand scale!) and although it can be fun, it can also be quite daunting/frustrating, especially if you have to compromise on your grand plan because you find things aren’t available. In my case I can get to the shop only to discover that an integral part of my scheme has just sold and I have to resist running after them yelling ‘noooo can I just keep it for a week?’ Then there is also the difference between how it looked in your head and how it actually looks…so well done you!

  • Michelle 1st August 2017 at 10:39 am

    Love it! Looks like a perfectly dreamy window dressing. I happen to love blue and am obsessed with that lovely blue sofa!

  • Pippa 1st August 2017 at 10:11 am

    Love it! Such a great way to use a window. Fab idea and beautiful design

  • Elayne Broadley 1st August 2017 at 9:38 am

    Bit off piste here Kate, your shoes are fabulous! Where are they from? Ps room set looks great too! ?

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 2nd August 2017 at 8:44 am

      they are by a spanish brand called bimba y lola – I was walking past last year and saw them in the window and they were on sale. I had to have them!

  • Mandy 1st August 2017 at 8:38 am

    Looks a fab space and like you had a great time creating it. How exciting!

  • Pauline 1st August 2017 at 8:34 am

    Well done Kate! I’m not a ‘blue person’ but this looks stylish and ready to be lived in – beautiful!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 1st August 2017 at 8:45 am

      I didn’t think I was a blue person either but it’s creeping up on me!

  • Ursula in Cádiz 1st August 2017 at 8:33 am

    You have created a lovely ‘real home’ space . And I LOVE both those photos of you: relaxed and smiley 🙂

  • Lizzie 1st August 2017 at 8:26 am

    Thank you, Kate, for walking us through the process. Love the upbeat blue sofa and the Balzac chair. Heals must have you back next year for another British Fest. Well done!

  • Madelaine 1st August 2017 at 8:24 am

    Congratulations on fulfilling a dream and doing it with such style. Your window looks wonderful.

  • Duncan Strong 1st August 2017 at 8:19 am

    Nice to Matthew Hilton represented. Back in the late 90’s his studio was next my workshop – he used to hide his prototypes in my place when his designer mates visited so his ideas wouldn’t stray……

  • Maud 1st August 2017 at 7:50 am

    How much fun would that have been? Looks Gorgy

  • Karen Anderson 1st August 2017 at 7:33 am

    Good job Kate. Sounds like you had a great time and the space looks brilliant and really comfortable.

  • Greg Penn 1st August 2017 at 7:32 am

    It’s gorgeous Kate – great job and sounds like loads of fun!

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