Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Timeless Home

Books, in my house, are forever multiplying;  there are piles everywhere.  And still they keep coming! (I bear no responsibility.  Though I'm not convinced that Andrew believes me when I tell him that Amazon sends me stuff for free . . .  )  One of the recent additions to the stacks is Alidad: The Timeless Home, which I've found myself scrutinising on a very regular basis over the past couple of months - I keep going back to look at the stunning photographs and wonder why I don't have a striped marble hall (literally the chicest entrance to a house I have ever seen) and a holiday house in the hills above Beirut.

Alidad - just in case his name is not immediately familiar to you -  is an award-winning interior designer, whose wealth of references, decorative approach, use of antique textiles and ability to blend Baroque and Neo-Classicism with chinoiserie and Regency is something that I aspire to within my own home.  Tragically, I don't yet manage to achieve (or afford) his look quite as well as he does, but there's time, and the book is both an explanation of how to make one's house 'timeless' (which is something we all aim for, no?) and full of handy design tips that I'm already mentally applying to the next house.

For instance, "On a very simple level, if you don't have precisely positioned sockets, the room will fail you as a working space," he declares.  And he's right, obviously! The sockets were already in place when we moved into this house, and we haven't moved a single one.  Resultingly, we have extension cords threaded under chairs and wedged behind bookcases, and it's very inconvenient.  Electrics aside,  there are passages devoted to Alidad's preference for creating double or triple height spaces that allow for mezzanine levels and majestic architectural details like partly glazed cupolas, an explanation of how he arrives at each decorative layer he applies - "too much colour or pattern can kill a room, and, conversely, too much texture on texture can feel wrong" -  his technique of 'layering light' using mirrors and candles, and how he succeeds in ensuring that a room will look consistently good at different times of the day.

The photographs are by the brilliant James McDonald, whose work regularly appears in my favourite interiors magazines (World of Interiors and House & Garden) and the text is written by Sarah Stewart-Smith.  It's a perfect Christmas present for anyone with any interest in design, and one I'd definitely be asking for if I didn't already have it.  (The only hitch is that, having read the book, I definitely can not afford what I'm  now looking for in my next house:  I've discovered I'd rather like partly glazed cupolas in a triple height grand hall.  It's been a bit of a revelation, rather like when I started reading AD Spain and realised just how exquisitely beautiful - and therefore necessary -  a well designed pool can be . . . . Also, recently, I've started collecting images of box gardens.  As well as the triple height grand hall and the swimming pool, the next house also needs a large outside area given over to topiary.  Oh, and an orangery, and an ice-house.  And a lake.)

Alidad's own flat.

A London breakfast room, complete with William Yeoward glassware and chair covers from Chelsea Textiles.  (There are other, silk damask ones, for more formal occasions.)

The saloon at Buscot Park, with it's incredible series of paintings by Edward Burne-Jones.  (I definitely need a pre-Raphaelite frieze somewhere in the next house, too.  Or perhaps stained glass windows in the chapel?  I don't want to be too exacting.  It can be an either-or.)

The dining room in a Queen Anne London house.  Each of the mirrored sections within the room's wood panelling depicts a hand-painted portrait of a fictitious Ottoman Sultan.  

For more, you'll have to buy the book.  Here.