by Marisa Marcantonio

Great English country houses have inspired legions of American designers over the years. Taking their cue from defining moments in great British interiors, like the cozy, intimate room arrangements, floral wallpapers, sweet patterned chintz's and elaborate trim work, many a decorator looked to the hallowed halls in England for ideas. Nicky Haslam, the ageless London decorator and swell of the social swirl, is lucky enough to own a home in Hampshire,  England, the former home of great British design icon, John Fowler, partner in the esteemed Colefax and Fowler. The Hunting Lodge, built in the dynamic Jacobean Revival style,  has been restored to it's former grandeur by Haslam, and is the subject of his forthcoming book with Rizzoli, Folly de Grandeur. Turned into a cozy escape in a bucolic setting,  the house provides the ideal backdrop for entertaining while being an escapist sanctuary.  The understated interiors are lush gardens are done up in a way that shows how spaces can be warm and inviting, and at their core, veddy veddy British. Appearing in the March/April issue of Veranda, Haslam's home is accompanied by an article written by Mario Lopez-Cordero, a great interviewer and writer I know from my House Beautiful days. It really captures the sense of place and fresh charm Haslam has brought back to the Hunting Lodge, a true historic treasure.

Photos courtesy of Veranda

So true, a return to pretty is upon us! The March/April issue of Veranda celebrates that pretty is always in style.

Photos by Simon Upton

The 16th century brick lodge's facade with elaborate, soaring gables. Arched windows and potted manicured topiaries make up a patio garden closer to the house.

The living room has plenty of upholstered seating to sink into.  Slightly askew cushions make the lived-in space even cozier. Choosing to keep the rosy brown Sienna Pink washed wall hue done by Fowler, Haslam created a great spot to gather by the fire. He shared his design take on the intimate spaces he created, saying, There’s a slight carelessness to the decor that looks impromptu. It’s not a stamp of English decorating as it is now, but as it’s always been—to look like one hasn’t tried too hard. All the edges are rubbed off. The atmosphere has to have a lot of patina and probably a lot of dust.”

A busy, climbing floral Mauny wallpaper kept from Fowler days is the backdrop for a portrait of Haslam's mother and a well-stocked welcoming bar. Meaningful decorative accessories provide a personal take, truly reflecting the owners interests. That certain British combination of antiques, florals and overstuffed upholstery makes everyone instantly feel at ease.

The bedroom ceiling is made to look even higher by Fowler's application of a wallpaper border vertically running up the wall. What a great way to add height. I have been seeing a lot of great paper borders lately, is this technique ripe for a comeback? Long silk panels at the windows are framed by tailored valances trimmed in red. So chic.


by Marisa Marcantonio

Photo courtesy of Architectural Digest

Calling their work "imaginative, intelligent, and inspiring" Architectural Digest recently came out with their list of AD100: The Top Talents in Architecture and Interior Design. Many on it are the usual suspects that do consistently great work, but some you may not know as well.
Margaret Russel has injected a much-needed breath of fresh air, and talent into the list. By highlighting design standouts, many of the designers listed here will experience an uptick in new client calls, and hopefully, a full, rich career ahead. All designers work incredibly hard, and it is great to see the addition of talent that opens the door for an entirely new generation that is well on their way. It's always nice to be acknowledged. So, who do you think should be on next year's list?

Here are some additions I was pleased to see:

Los Angeles-based Alexandra and Michael Misczynski, the married due of Atelier AM create understated, stylish homes

Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller, another husband and wife team, of New York's Carrier and Company. They create fresh interiors that mix rustic and fine antiques with visually appealing unique fabrics

LA's lifestyle maven and shop owner, Kelly Wearstler

Madeline Stuart, the LA-based furniture and interior designer who fuses modern style and traditional beauty

Fantastical, glamorous color-filled interiors define Miles Redd's interiors

New York-based internationally inspired Muriel Brandolini, a genius at eclectic, European-tinged, art-filled playful interiors

Classic yet constantly inventive Brit designer Nicky Haslam/NH Interiors, who injects personality into everything he does

Bold interiors give Richard Mishaan's layered spaces a well deserved spot on the list

Mix masters Robin Standefer and husband Stephen Alesch of Roman and Williams of NYC are hot hot hot and love to pair brass and wood

Stephen Gambrel of NYC has a chic take on comfort, with crisp lines and pops of unexpected colors

Atlanta's Suzanne Kasler, who can do inviting luxe cabins and grand country homes with equal warmth
and sophistication

Suzanne Rheinstein, the reigning classicist of LA and owner of iconic LA antique-filled shop, Hollyhock


by Marisa Marcantonio

He needs no introduction, or very little for those that follow all things British. English bon vivant, design legend and wild fete giver, Nicky Haslam is going stronger than ever. With his interior design practice at NH Design and a recent book about his storied life, the designer is a force to be reckoned with. His memoir, Redeeming Features, recounts his school days at Eton he redid his room complete with Ocelot skin curtains, tells anecdotes of fabulous friends and hob nobbing with the likes of Cecil Beaton to Mick Jagger. Every encounter-- being plucked to be an editor at Vogue, to dinners with Cole Porter-- prove memorable and influential to his style sense. Ever full of creative ideas, Haslam is forging ahead, and you can't help but pay attention to what he is up to. In a quest to stay connected to the young and hip, has become a blogger, sharing his musings as well as those of his creative director, Colette van den Thillart. His preference for the bold and graphic trump a disdain for the minimalistic. His work as it welcomes you with its grandeur. A grandeur of the livable kind.

Photo courtesy of NH Interiors
A dramatic library of an English country house with black walls, gold trim and red details

An elegant sitting room in a Barbados retreat

A purple tinged living room in a country house

A charming bedroom in the Cote d'Azur with painted furniture

Photo courtesy of NH Interiors
A library with graphic black and white doors and upholstered walls

A beautiful watercolor of a living room showcases his skill with a paint brush

What is inspiring you now?

The most inspiring thing now is the new breed of super-yacht...lighter materials, less bulk, with wonderful new anchorages like Montenegro and Croatia opening up 

What are your favorite color combinations?

Almost any colour and lots of plaster whites

What is your favorite city to shop for inspiration?

New Orleans has an array of the 18C French traditional plus raw, creole island things, colourful and humourous from Mexico across the Gulf , primitive marvels from further South 

If you could work with any company on a product collection, what would it be?

NASA. I'd like to have the first product range in the Galaxy

What is your favorite room in the house to design?

Any room that I can cram masses of books into

Do you think floral prints/chintz are dead?

Not a bit. Never were, never will be. But they must be used boldly and massively. Nothing duller than' a touch of floral'

What did you learn early on about design that you use every day?

Think about wall-space for furniture; architects these days like too many openings. Also consider your corners; your don't want any dank lacunae

What is the hardest part of working with the client?

Making them realise the amount of thought and time and sheer slog that goes into presenting them with a perfect finished project. 

What is the most outlandish request a client has made?

An adjustable mirror set into a bed canopy seemed outrageous let alone outlandish years ago, but its quite common now. I helped an L A decorator years ago whose client wanted things like live giraffes tethered in the living rooms.

What are your trade secrets in London,where do you love to shop and go to get inspired?

Christopher Hodsall's cornucopia of treasures at the Gas Works in Chelsea, though its really not a secret. Luckily its hard to find. The Library of the Zoological Society in Regent's Park is endlessly inspirational. Reflection in water can inspire, too.

What is happening stylistically in London right now?

Simon Hammerstein's ‘The Box’ in Soho is set to be the new hotspot, and of course Guy Pelly's club, ‘Public’ for the very young. The fabled hotel group is opening the 'W' in Leicester Square on St Valentines Day. Tissus d'Helene in Chelsea Harbour has a good line of young designers fabrics. The sexiest of shoe designers, Alberto Moretti, will be selling the sexiest of shoes for boys and girls at Arfango in Walton Street SW3. As to restaurants, the best are the Wolseley in Piccadilly, and Clarke's in Kensington Church St. These are Lucian Freud's regulars, and what's good enough for the great man is good enough for you and me!