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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
And here is Tiffany’s space:
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.