Friday, April 23, 2010


Occasionally I remark how it seems to me there are not many modern decorators who know how to use color and in many ways it is the pot calling the kettle black.

Our flat is pretty low-key in color and tone. The bedroom is gray - gray suede upholstered wall behind the bed, gray silk curtains and Farrow and Ball Cornforth White on the other walls - with an accent or two of orange. What I name an accent is a large, orange-lacquered six-drawer chest that stands opposite the dressed-in-gray-and-white bed, and under a silver-framed Hermès scarf in shades of orange. The only other color in the room comes from two gray-green celadon lamps, an ancient gray-green linen velvet armchair, and two pillows made from slices of kimonos - one, blues and greens, that prefers my side of the bed and the other, oranges and purples, his. The gray/celadon combination is mine and the orange/purple is his and after the compromise all couples have to reach for their place to be personal and loved, all is ours. Purely and unequivocally ours.

The living room is really an exercise in tints and tones that wander between uninflected whites, blancs de chine, creams, beiges, lavenders, stones, silvers, blues and purples. There's woodiness, the off-black of old japanning, the crew-cut warmth of dark mohair, soft graphite-flecked paper, mushroomy hard-nosed lacquer, dusty ormolu, green-edged glass, the swank of crystal, and a small flaunt of orange silk velvet.

Two days ago what must be the last hyacinths were brought home and quickly opened into the most glorious of pinks, a color as intense and transitory as the scent filling the room. The kind of beauty that is heartbreaking.

This resplendent room behind its equally triumphant facade is something I'd forgotten but when I turned the page after reading an essay about the Folies Bergère the force of it hit me. I wonder now how I forgot this room, this masterpiece of brilliant color. When first I saw it seventeen years ago I think I might have been intimidated and probably thought I couldn't have lived in it. Now, I really rather think I could. I have grown more accepting of my role of recessive background to a loving partner whose personality could quite clearly be expressed in such an interior as this. It's pretty much as he tried to leave the house this morning though the removal of a madras-of-many-colors bow tie toned it down a notch or two - just.

Photos by Tim Street-Porter from an article written in 1993 for The World of Interiors by Ann Barr about Michael Davis and Andrew Logan's Bermondsey house


  1. The colour pallette you use in your design scheme sounds perfect, with "accents" taking the strain.

  2. Always, nearly always, I find the busts in your selections. The two in your Bermondsey house are atop tall columns conversing, probably as they have for the last 50 years, totally at home with the colors. Bravo. Do they move around the room? I hope so.

  3. not being a modern-colour abounds here. the hyacinth is a beauty-unable to bear its weight in full bloom. Iris are in the house right now-shades of purple. pgt

  4. What a colorful hymn to love in all of its tints and hues. The choice of language in this essay is as lilting as the objects you have chosen for your home. The back story is fascinating as well: the coupling of seemingly polar opposites often ends up in the making of a complete whole. Would have loved to have seen the bow tie.

  5. Our city flat is virtually color-less, but we've indulged in color, at least in several of our rooms, at Darlington House. Took us a bit of gumption and "what-the-Hell" to bring ourselves to do so, but like jumping into a pool, once we did we were glad of it.

  6. There are times, Columnist, when I want to have a interior as coloured as that of Andrew Logan (that name a blast from the past, if ever there was one) but then I walk in here of a morning and love the quiet of it all.

    Terry ... you've made me very curious about my own posts because I have never considered that busts might be a theme. I like 'em, own one but never display it.

    Little Augury, iris are so here today gone tomorrow but whilst they are in the house their color sings. When we lived in Amsterdam we planted one in a large pot on the roof terrace and over the succeeding years it multiplied till the pot was mounded with rhizomes and the flower display each Spring was wonderful. We still have a photo of it as we also do of the white lilac in a pot that together with the iris we gave to friends when we left to come here.

    home before dark, thank you - two words that seem to me such a peremptory response to your comment but I don't know how else to express my thanks without sounding fulsome. The bow tie is summery and will work very well with a blue seersucker suit - the one I saw yesterday in a photo in the magazine on his nightstand. I expect to view something similar one morning in the very near future.

    Mr Darling, I fully understand your response to color in your country house - a more relaxed atmosphere frees one to experiment. I think it was John Fowler who recommended looking at the hedgerows if one wanted to see how to use color.

  7. well, having spent the last 45 years casting my critical, but non-creative eye on interiors of all descriptions, I can only say that sometimes something needs to be burnt orange and fuschia, and sometimes it needs to be white----I get soooooooooo tired of people who believe that there is only one side to the fence.

    Or, as someone's old auntie used to say, "life is a banquet"

  8. just for you Blue,

  9. Ah, Dilettante - those rules about what is or isn't acceptable color in decorating. As one of my students colorfully remarked in his ineffable way, WTF! Our blue and cream library has now acquired a brash, unfaded kelim that gives it the kick up the arse it needed. As to the fence .... WTF.

  10. I'll stick with your enchanting colour schemes, Blue because Andrew Logan is a complete nightmare in my book. He and h is best friend Zandra Rhodes stalk the part of Bermondsey where my studio is with their brash whimsy. Her half-arsed Fashion and Textile Museum has a facade of orange and pink concrete which would look great in Australia.

    So let's have some pix of your apartment then.

  11. Little Augury - thank you, thank you. I saw your iris when I was out on our balcony (pre-prandial drink) then forgot to comment when certain demands were made about dinner being prepared. You'd think we hadn't eaten all day. The iris are stunning and I really do thank you for sending me the link.

    Rose, I have pix but they were taken with a wide-angle lens and I ain't keen. When the last batch of drawings is framed and up, then prob.

  12. Oh yes, so much of it is in mood it evokes. How and when you need the stimulation of those exotic jewel tones, and when the soothing navys, grays, and neutrals bring us down to a calmer plane.

    Art by Karena