We have a rather special episode of the Great Indoors this week and here you will find my show notes and gorgeous pics to support the show and don’t forget you can listen to the full episode here.
We just managed to squeeze this recording in before lockdown no.2 and I’m so pleased we did as I have been itching to take a house tour of the fabulous designer Matthew Williamson for EVER! After 20 years of designing fabulous fashion worn by A-Listers from his close friend Sienna Miller all the way through to royalty, Matthew has turned his attention and passion to interiors. His new website showcases wallpapers, rugs, furniture and some incredible accessories while his interior design arm has transformed hotel rooms in London, Oxfordshire and Majorca. He says, “I am fascinated with creating spaces which evoke a sense of joy, optimism and personality.” I couldn’t have put it better myself! On with the tour…
In through the cobalt blue front door and I was slightly lost for words as we were greeted by a candy pink hallway and green painted architraves, wowsers! I thought my hallway was colourful – I could just tell that this was going to be my kind of apartment. Matthew said that it was love at first sight when he first viewed this incredible pad, he fell in love with the bones of the building and all the original detailing, who wouldn’t!
The first room we enter is what we called the drawing room and you can see why. Matthew spends half of his time in this London pad and also has a place in Majorca and as he says during these trying times, he’s lucky that this apartment is large enough to be multi-functional as he currently works here too.
I just love that this is clearly a creative space as well – spot the wall of print outs in the mirror – products in the pipeline. Matthew has long had the ambition to have an online shop which since recording has been launched and you can find his delicious products on his website Matthewilliamson.com
Matthew’s products feature his go-to colours which he says are “complementary contrasts of hot and cold, pinks and greens, I think they are my neutrals.” I just love that – pinks and greens are neutral, you don’t have to convince me!
He went on to say “I recently did a house for a couple in Majorca and the wife was fully invested in my plans, but the husband was just used to grey and white. So I gingerly spent a few weeks to try and coerce him into the idea of a pink bedroom and I managed to bring him on board but tone down the pink to which we are now calling a warm beige. So to me, that pink is a neutral as it’s nowhere near a bright candy pink.”
Having worked in the fashion industry for over twenty years, Matthew became exhausted with the fast-paced demands and as the industry changed from bricks and mortar stores to online retail, he fell out of love with it a little. “So it took two years to make the pivot into the industry I have always loved and it was a slow mindful shift from one to the next. I now look back retrospectively and think my fashion career was training for this.”
Matthew’s career was triggered by the heavy influence of his mother and how she would take pride in her appearance and prepare for the day ahead. “But she also loved her home and loved saving up to buy something and it was quite a precious pastime of hers. She really was a peacock in a room and at that time it was quite rare so I was obsessed and fascinated by the effects of that – the positive effects and others around her. So it just felt like a natural thing for me to have that kind of effect of people – that’s what I would like to do.”
“So much of your design DNA you carry with you, so whilst I do try and push things I do feel a lot of what I’m about is rooted in those formative years.” To Matthew, nothing is ever done and can’t stay in a room for too long without an update so will soon be embarking on a redecoration project of his own, I can’t wait to see what he’ll do!
“To me, colour is instinctive and natural and is not something I labour over, I can’t spend, hours, weeks, days contemplating the difference between pale grey and dark grey. If I’m working on a project for someone else – like the other day, I walked in and said this room has to be green, so it feels quite impulsive. If you get it wrong, you get it wrong, it’s one of the easiest things to change.
I couldn’t agree more. I hear so often that people are scared of colour and I always say, we don’t all get it right, all of the time. Like me, Matthew thinks you should go with your gut, and he says “I don’t have any colour rules, I like light and bright but not white, I need colours on the walls and not necessarily bright or intense colour. It’s quite a personal thing and everyone has their own slant but for me, I don’t want to sit in a room that’s too brightly coloured or too intensely coloured. The candy pink hallway is a space I’m travelling through and I don’t want t to sit in pink lounge believe it or not!”
This was originally a huge room and Matthew and his partner created a kitchen and a bedroom which was originally a huge open-plan kitchen, but it needed to be done! Notice the healthy line up of booze too!
Continuing with his love of colour and pattern Matthew has collaborated with Pooky lights but due to the pandemic manufacturing became an issue but luckily the fab lampshades are in production and he has sourced vintage lamp bases which are available of his site here.
One thing you will notice in this glorious apartment is an abundance of painted furniture – upcycling on a new level I think! He says “I’ve got this from my mum for sure, if you go to her house she will definitely paint you if you stand still, it’s a thing.”
This coral cane bed with pale blue bed linen is the perfect partner for the Ventura wallpaper – part of Matthew’s first collection with Osborne & Little. He says the room isn’t finished yet and will use the wallpaper as the anchor for the rest of the space. I loved that canary yellow cabinet which Matthew says was a happy accident, it’s just a piece that he’s always loved, “that’s the thing with my design philosophy, it’s not about everything new and pristine and matching to the Nth degree, it would send me crazy – you need to have personality and have fun with it and it needs to be practical as well as beautiful.”
“I used to make clothes from relatively inexpensive fabrics and my goal was to transform them into gowns that would knock ‘em dead – whether that was beaded, embroidered, printed or dyed, that transformation from something humble not about glitzy expensive pieces, I wouldn’t say no to the odd splurge but I am definitely mindful on where to spend money wisely.”
I wanted to know if he was going to splurge on interiors what would it be?
“I’m going to be really boring and say all the things you don’t see. The behind the scenes stuff – water, electric, heating and lighting which is often overlooked. All that relatively dull part of the process is important and you can spend money on that before choosing the cushions. I would spend money on the floor, nothing looks good on a crappy floor.”
Now we just cannot ignore the iconic pink ostrich feather floor lamp which I really associate with Matthew and is just fabulous. It’s totally over the top and totally overscaled and you certainly have to have the right house for it.
You’ll notice the colours are toned down compared to those elsewhere and I love this more gentle palette, the mood and energy has instantly been brought down. “It’s going back to what’s the space for, it’s a place to sleep, which dictates how you decorate, I want it to be calm and not too busy.”
Even though many people in the interiors industry shun the word ‘eclectic’ that’s exactly how I would describe this London apartment and I asked Matthew how he manages to get so many design references to work?
“Be fearless in the concept that it doesn’t have to match, that for me is the only no no for my style. I think about things that wouldn’t go together and that’s where you get interesting mixes and juxtapositions. Don’t rush it, you can’t create this look in 24 hours or even a week, a lot of what you see here has been sourced over years and pieces that have been with me for a long time.”
What an amazing house tour and an amazing host, a huge huge thank you to Matthew Williamson for taking the time to show us his amazing home. You can find him on Instagram @matthewwilliamson and do check out the great new website too.
Thanks also to our fab producer Kate Taylor, our lovely listeners and don’t forget our wonderfully resourceful Facebook group.