Welcome to the Great Indoors podcast show notes, and for this episode, Kate and I share our thoughts on faking it versus the real deal, we share some of the details from our recent Marrakech retreat and unpick the micro-trend we are seeing creeping up everywhere, we are calling it posh- granny chic. But first, a huge thanks to our sponsors for this series, Topps Tiles for supporting the series. As always you can listen to the full episode here and don’t forget to check out our Facebook group and become part of our wonderfully resourceful Great Indoors community, who are quickly becoming font of all interiors knowledge.
So Kate and I got on to this hot topic during a fabulous dinner at Jasper Conran’s L’Hotel in Marrakech and we noticed that in the midst of all the very chic surroundings were very sweet little ‘granny-esque’ details like these chair covers with frilly skirts, and I was all mad for them while Kate was far less keen. I think I may have suggested I get something similar for my house and she said sternly ‘NO!”. When we say ‘Granny Chic ‘ we’re not talking tea cosies and blankets here – it’s posh granny so think Chelsea darling and a touch of Colefax & Fowler. This look plays to my love of adding pattern on pattern, plenty of colour and the odd tassel embellishment whilst making the home feel cosy and welcoming. This is a look for the maximalists at heart so embrace the fringing, frills and fabulousness of this nostalgic look with a witty twist.
The topic of whether to use real materials or those that imitate has always been a hot topic in interiors with the general feeling that real is best. Now I have a confession, I recently needed to replace the wet room floor in my Brighton holiday let bathroom and I replaced a damaged real slate floor with a fake! This time around I wanted something low maintenance and anti-slip which is key in a wetroom, so I went for a faux distressed wood effect porcelain tile which fits in with the vintage decor. The technology in faux tile finishes has advanced considerably and the effects are more realistic. My general tip is to not worry with floors as you don’t necessarily touch it all the time, whereas I would perhaps invest in the real thing in a shower cubicle as you’re more likely to feel the difference. A word of caution though – if you want to fake it, don’t put it next to real. With the trend of marble not going anywhere, there is more choice than ever on both real and fake marble finishes.
On to wallpapers, these came out as winners as there are so many choices out there and I particularly like the trompe l’oeil designs as they are witty and can really add an individual element to a space. Kate opted for a fake bookshelf design by Mineheart Designs for the top of her stairs landing. It cleverly visually conceals the entire door and surround of her son’s bedroom, giving it a secret opening feel, which we agreed was very James Bond for a young boy. Andrew Martin is worth a look for the variety of designs and scale of wallpapers.
Now, what about faux plants? Well, faux plants won’t take the toxins out of the air for you and there’s that connection to nature you just can’t beat. I’m pretty sure that biophilia expert Oliver Heath would agree who we interviewed in the last episode and he would also say go real all the way (where you can) on all surfaces. Although Kate had a very cunning trick to mix your fake plants in with your real ones, in the hope of completely tricking the eye, with only half the pots to water!
Kate and I have literally only just touched down from our amazing first Interiors Design retreat at the Elf Fenn in Marrakech. This city is a sensory overload in the best way, with so much colour, culture and architecture to soak up, it really did give me a boost I needed this dreary February. Not only did we get to be surrounded by the incredible design within El Fenn hotel but we got to connect with some great women and share our love of design.
One of our outings was to one of the most established family run rug shops in the Medina, Bazaar du Sud who sell a multitude of carpets and Berber textiles, both new and vintage. I was fascinated to discover that the chevron, diamond and triangle designs are symbols of female fertility, whereas the straight lines which create a ladder effect represent male fertility. If you look carefully some rugs may have a red dot or similar that may indicate a birth in the family which the artisan has decided to honour within her weaving. The rugs are given different names depending on the regions they are from and each region have particular design styles and thicknesses of the weave. While vintage rugs are popular, they are running out and typical Berber rugs are long and narrow to fit the shape of their homes. European homes tend to need squarer rugs which is why it’s often a good idea to commission a new rug.
We also got the privilege to sit down for coffee with interior designer Willem Smit who is responsible for the hotels colour soaked and jaw-droppingly beautiful interiors. Situated on the gorgeous rooftop terrace Willem spoke about his recipe for mixing different global influences and how he cleverly combined Mid-century design with bold Moroccon colourful accents. He is passionate about the artisans in Marrakech and his designs showcase many of the crafts available, from the Stucco plaster called Tadelakt to the leather floors, metalwork lamps and luxurious tiled floors. Not to mention the wonderful fabrics, drapes and upholstery. I think I could easily relocate- what a playground for an interior designer!
Image at top: me and Kate in the El Fenn courtyard with general manager and designer of El Fenn Willem Smitt.