Archive : December 2010

30 Dec 2010
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

Silver cartoucheIt’s amazing to me that even my steamy-drenched colour-laden island can deliver up a plethora of icy silver…lunar gauzy shadows…mysterious and remote.

Eileen Agar‘s surrealist views out torn screening… this is the type of thing I am seeing around me when I allow myself to look past the riot of colour.

John Brauer's Grand Illusion TableJohn Brauer‘s ‘Grand Illusion’ table is like a sort of perspex jellyfish I could see using in some surrealist Fellini-type interior I am conjuring in my mind (notice the absence of legs or any structural support – love.)

Harvill Chips Channon's Legendary Dining Room, 5 Belgrave SquareNo, let’s face it, what I’m really considering is a silver and white rococo room …after all rococo is  a combination of the French rocaille, meaning stone, and coquilles, meaning shell (not to state the obvious but I never know who’s reading this!)

Silver driftwood from a beach in Barbados. Photo by Colette van den ThillartI took this photograph on my beach, and think if you squint your eyes you can pretty much find Chips Channon‘s dining room within the ornate and florid lines of the wood. It’s so obvious when you see these side by side.  And the colours in this sunbleached stump are rapturous and prescisely why I used old exterior barnboard to clad the sitting room of my cottage in Canada. Would that I could have got even more bleached wood like this, but Canadian Pine goes a rather more muted shade of pewter really, rather than silver, still terrific but the pales gesso tones of this driftwood are really alluring.

3-white-palmsSpeaking of gesso…wouldn’t it be incredible if there were such a thing as white palms??

Marchesa dress. Photo by Colette van den ThillartThis Marchesa dress I photographed in London is like ocean froth – maybe one could make a skirted table in something like this for a witty touch in our driftwood Channon dining room? Now we’re talking…

Colette van den Thillart's children play games on their Bajan terraceBack to reality, my children play games on our more classically Bajan terrace…remember how Deborah Turbeville used to make every interior fade to grey? It was so haunting, I miss that thing, that neo-romance of the 80′s sometimes.

Suzy MacMurray gown, fashioned with dressmaking pinsAs for me, I’ll be leaving the children at  home and wearing this Susie MacMurray gown, fashioned of dressmaking pins, for my inaugural ball in my silver driftwood palace.

27 Dec 2010
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

I’m surrounded by colours I  adore here on the island of Barbados, and while there are some legendary and charming houses – especially Messel, but others too – I’m going to keep it very grassroots. My beach is especially giving visually – partly because we are in the north where it is very undeveloped and there is no one to sweep our beach every morning.  The blessing therefore, is that I spend hours combing it myself with my eyes, and finding the most incredible inspiration.  This really is my meditation (since I can’t sit still in reality).

Pink grocery store wall in Barbados. Photo by Colette van den Thillart

Colour blocking on the walls of the local grocery store, well really I’m sure they just ran out of the right colour paint, but could it BE more like a Rothko??

Pink Driftwood on the Barbados beach. Photo by Colette van den Thillart

Why is this tree stump on my beach pink? Is it moss? Could you conjur anything more divine than pink driftwood? What about a coral pink driftwood room – now there’s a thought…

Fishermans nets washed up on the beach in Barbados. Photo by Colette van den Thillart

Fishermans’ nets washed up…my perfect colour, and there is something about the frothy-ness, almost like some sort of plastic passementerie!

Crab shell on Barbados beach. Photograph by Colette van den ThillartPoor mister crab – but what a colour…I have mixed coral pink with tobacco in my own interiors here and it’s heaven. The tobacco stops the pink from being too girly and keeps it contemporary looking.

Pink Pompoms from Mother Nature. Photo by Colette van den ThillartI planted this in my garden – pink pompoms from mother nature – too good to be true.

Wall art from the NY MOMA. Photographed against Sister Parish ottoman by Colette van den ThillartAnd this I bought in the New York Museum of Modern Art when we were working on Columbus Circle…it’s made of rubbish – need I say more?  (Oh and it’s photographed against my Sister Parish ottomans – too perfect.)

Barbados chattel house in all shades of pink. Photo by Colette van den ThillartLocal chattel houses in all shades of pink

Barbados outdoor kitchen. Photo by Colette van den ThillartI know outdoor kitchens are hot in North America but I haven’t seen a pink one yet – whoever knocked this up is too adorable for words.

Lanvin coral pink dresses - Vanity FairLanvin in on the act (it’s a great colour to wear, I can attest)

25 Dec 2010
avatar Author: Nicky Haslam

Nicholas Haslam's Hunting Lodge

My house in the Hampshires is already blanketed in snow as white as white can be – and my two black Pekinese look too cute in the snowscape. I’m always astonished at how, no matter how-ever deep the snow, cold the winter and frost, plants survive. And some plants, like the Pentstemon, don’t seem to mind how cold it gets, they just keep going…leafing and growing – even thought the ground is frozen solid.

I’ve got nobody coming to stay this year, so I’m not cooking. (Just as well as I’m on the Cambridge diet to lose some weight before I head to Palm Beach and Mustique in the new year.) It is a quiet one at home, appreciating the snow that has seemingly brought all of the UK to a standstill.

To everyone in the fascinating blogosphere, I wish you a magical Christmas and endless joy in 2011.



23 Dec 2010
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

In a complete departure (for yes, I am currently abroad) I am moving away from that most academic of all colours (WHITE), to discuss the merits and necessities of pink. And I’m not talking Katie Price pink (though I do adore her!). I’m really talking about more complex shades like that used in the Lucio Fontana‘s ‘Spatial Concept Waiting‘ – which suggests flesh really, but perhaps for decorating sakes we can call it a type of coral pink?

Lucio Fontana Spatial Concept Waiting

I have for the moment left England, so my thoughts are wandering in different visual directions.

While Nicky and I are entirely melded on the ascendancy of white, we then part ways as I would move into pinks and he would move into violets (with full respect and appreciation for the other’s preference – and as this sunset I snapped last night shows, they are very much in harmony with one another).


We will often look for fabrics, finishes and materials that have what I call a ‘metamorphic quality’. That is, they change and adapt depending on the light, setting or use, time of day etc. Nicky will often talk about the importance of the ‘air’ between colours, which is a similar strain of thought. It’s really about the sensory experience, I think, or perhaps the English language is just inadequate?

New Orleans curtain and pelmet

In the curtains and pelmets Nicky installed in that now-legendary New Orleans drawing room you can see in this detail shot how the pale bronze silk is shot with highlights of coral pink.

FT Logo

How much pleasure do you derive from reading you most masculine of salmon pink papers…the Financial Times? (Which is only pink as a marketing gimmick by the way, going back to the late 18th Century).


And for our North American readers, did you not always wonder why our fiberglass insulation was pink? Google tells me that it was a marketing tactic…now why they thought all those butch builders would prefer to buy pink insulation I don’t know…but yet I DO know!!!

Samuel Ward of Yarmouth Norfolk, April 10 1771 (Taken off the Abbott and Holder website)

For me, pink – and now, thanks to Nicky, violet too – are, quite simply, decorating neutrals.

22 Dec 2010
avatar Author: Colette Van Den Thillart
Creative Director

Canadian House & Home‘s Suzanne Dimma and I went shopping in London recently when she was in town to shoot my house for their December issue (See that article here). She posted a wonderful article with photos on their blog today.

Colette van den Thillart with Suzanne Dima

Thank you Suzanne!