Hello and welcome to my show notes for the penultimate episode in the 8th series of the Great Indoors podcast. We’re still recording remotely via our duvet dens but there is a promise to get out soon! A huge thank you to our sponsors Neptune and our producer Kate Taylor for making a wonderful episode for you to enjoy.
We haven’t quite said goodbye to summer just yet on this episode as we have a few design tales to share from our travels and our guest interview comes straight from the beautiful island of Ibiza. We’ll be talking to Skin, singer, songwriter and DJ, best known for being the lead vocalist of the band Skunk Anansie, but it’s little known that she studied Interior architecture and is a bit of an design obsessive. We also chat the hotly anticipated Dulux Colour of the Year for 2021.
For those of you who follow Kate in Insta (@mad_about_the_house) would have seen many a beautiful image of her travels through France before settling in Italy for her wedding anniversary road trip. You may remember from the last episode a conversation on my bathroom renovation where I revealed that I would love to hang a ‘skirt’ of fabric around the basin, much to Kate’s disdain. So low I was beyond astonished to see pop up on her instagram feed – nothing other than a skirt around the kicthen sink in the Italian 15th Century converted olive mill where she stayed. Kate defended the use of a skirt in a kitchen but maintains it’s a crime in a bathroom- well that particular kitchen at least as it featured lots of marble, stone and vintage pieces so it was allowed! Contrary is all I’m going to say!
On the travel home, they stopped at the La Folie Douce Hotel in Chamonix, next to Mont Blanc, a very popular skiing resort and this particular hotel, known for the entertainment and dancing on tables didn’t stop Kate and the mad husband enjoying their stay. The highlight for Kate was the Wes Anderson’esque feel and this showstopper of a carpet did not disappoint.
With the new season comes new collections and normally at this time of year we would be reporting back on all the new trends via the trade shows and events but obviously things are different this year. So we thought we would delve into the subject of trends and whether they are still relevant.
First, though comes the announcement from Dulux on the release of their Colour of the Year for 2021. The colour is Brave Ground and it’s …… brown. Now whilst it’s not a colour I would use, in terms of colour psychology, any shade of brown is deeply grounding – it’s the colour of the earth after all, which nourishes growth so it is sending out a positive message I think. A few months ago I interviewed Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director of Dulux and she the colour of the year does reflect what’s happening in the world around us, to emphasise on that she says:
“The colours on our walls are the backdrop to how we live our life. For many of us, lockdown has served to emphasise how important our home environment has become, it has been the place where we work, learn, relax. It can lift us up, nurture us, comfort us.
“We continue to live through uncertain times. In 2021, the warm and grounding tones of Brave GroundTM will allow us to find certainty in the strength from the very ground beneath our feet, emboldening us to go forward and begin to live again and giving us the flex to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances we face.”
As you can guess I won’t be donning my walls with any shade of brown any time soon, and will continue to enjoy my beloved brights. As I have said before it’s all about choosing the colours that personally resonate with you and for me brown isn’t doing it for me.
Following months in lockdown, it does beg the question of whether trends are still relevant? Perhaps we don’t need to know about what the new colours or designs are, as we are generally more confident about our own homes and our choices. Having said that, this may not apply to everyone, there are some who need a little guidance whether that’s from blogs, magazine or the high street to help find their own style. When you shop online you are not greeted by colour co-ordinated products and beautiful displays, as you are in a store, created by the visual merchandisers – I think many of us have missed that aspect of shopping. Instagram and Pinterest have been a great alternative in terms of instilling confidence and inspiration – will the trends come from these from now on?
Take a look at the recent trend for #cottagecore on Instagram initially created by a group of young women who just love the chintzy, nostalgic English country style and it is huge. Who’s to say we won’t create our own micro-trends as it’s all about inspiring one another and finding things you love. We’ve said before that you shouldn’t be driven by trends as you have to go with your gut and what resonates with you, although trends are a good starting point for some of us. One thing I have found whilst trying to finish off my house is the lack of availability for new pieces due to so many manufacturers closing during lockdown. So, I have taken the vintage and second-hand route, which I love doing anyway, to hunt down furniture and lighting – I’ve got a long shopping list!! So this end of fast fashion shopping has been forced on to us because of the pandemic and in turns creates a slow, organic way of decorating and not to mention a more sustainable way. Trends or no trends we will continue to chat all things interiors and do check us out Facebook group where thousands of interior obsessive share their views, insights and inspirations.
Personally, coming out of lockdown it has helped me slow down and re-evaluate my principles – not just my decorating choices. It’s made me stop and think about what is important within my home and I can only say that that’s a positive outcome. I think it’s safe to say that many people have become more confident with their choices, or confident in what they don’t like, which is a great place to start.
You may know Skin as the lead vocalist for rock band Skunk Anansie, but did you know that she studied interior architecture and computing and is very interior savvy? We wanted to know how her distinctive look and style translates into the world of interiors. Kate caught with her via her Ibiza pad – Skin not Kate that is, Kate was in her North London bedroom!
She has a small three-bedroom finca which has lots of land to enjoy as she says, you spend 80% of your time outdoors in Ibiza. “This house has a bit of a two-tone feel because indoors is very modern, white with clean lines and simple furniture and outside it just looks like an old cottage. I like the idea of my house blending into the hill and the countryside but when you step inside its very high tech.”
Q. In your music you like a contrast between loud music with the softer sense of the lyrics. Does that also apply to your interior design style?
“Absolutely. I have this feeling that you don’t have to stick to one thing all of the time and you can be interested in different styles at the same time – it’s all about how you do it. You can have a modern interior with an old exterior, I’ve kept all of the original features I haven’t lost the wooden beams, I have lost the terracotta floor as I think it’s lovely for outside but inside it looks too ye olde. I’ve gone for furniture that is indoors/outdoors but not hyper-modern. Some of the houses and villas in Ibiza are beautiful but can be very ‘Miami’ and I wanted to keep the authenticity of being in Ibiza and a cottage lifestyle.
Q. We’ve seen the recent trend for #cottagecore and now Jamaican Nan cottage style which both have a maximalist approach and in influences from Jamaican Nans. Do you have any influences from growing up?
“I love that style and think its really fun. Personally, I’m second generation British so have a little bit of everything and not at all a maximalist and only have things serve me visually, emotionally or functionally. Although I have flying ducks on the wall as I think it’s hilarious. It’s the English in me and I think it’s funny to walk into a sophisticated interior and then have flying ducks on the wall. They make me giggle, no-one else gets it but me, and that’s fine.”
When you moved to Tulse Hill, it was the first time you had your own bedroom and you talk about Pierrot wallpaper and curtains..
” It looked like Pierrot had just vomited around my room. There was no money to change it all, I couldn’t just tell my mum I didn’t like it so I just had to live with it. It was the first time I had any choice in what my environment would look like and I went with one uniform thing. It’s a lesson I’ve learnt – if at any time I think I’m falling for one thing I stop myself and say no, remember Pierrot.”
Q. You are known for your distinctive, fabulous sense of fashion, do you see a link between how you dress and how you decorate?
There is a strong link because it’s really about personality, feeling and charcter and making sure it’s you and authentic. When people walk into one of my houses they know it’s mine as there are certain things I always buy and I know what works. I like clothes that make me feel good but with a twist, I love Comme des Garçons and McQueen for instance. Taking something beautiful and classic and giving it an edge, making it yours, I like to add my touch/weirdness to it.
Skin is known for her activism and it started at quite a young age. She once worked at the furnishing department within BHS and tried to educate them on the political stance they should have been taking.
“At that time it was a pivotal moment and people were beginning to understand what Apartheid meant on a day to day level for black people in South Africa. It really affected me and I just couldn’t believe like that and in a very naive way, I thought that maybe they (BHS) didn’t know they were selling South African goods and I thought that if I just explained it to the manager they would say, of course, we’ll stop buying them! That job didn’t last for very long after that.
We’ve spoken before about diversity on the podcast and one of the things that came through, again and again, was that if you don’t see yourself it’s very difficult to put yourself into that career. What advice would you give others?
Seeing myself was never my thing and I was never trying to see someone else doing it. I would say that if you don’t see yourself you should do it anyway. It’s great if you see yourself and even if you don’t, do it anyway. In some ways, we need to go into areas where we are not seen and make ourselves seen. It’s wonderful to be an example and inspiration but it’s really important to be the first one to do it and forge ahead and do it anyway and don’t let other people get in your way.”
You say that you were living out of suitcases for about three years, is there now an element that means your home?
“As a touring musician, you’re always trying to make everywhere feel a little bit like home, so you always carry certain items with you. Feeling at home and having a house is a more spiritual and emotional thing than it would to most people. I’ve had many houses but not homes and I think the only place I feel at home is my house in Ibiza. It’s the only house I’ve had for a long time and had the same things around me for a long period of time.”