How do in­te­ri­ors ex­perts – and Ju­lianne Moore – make the home look so good? Catalina Stog­don re­ports

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Life Property -

Good de­sign is like putting to­gether an out­fit: have one state­ment item and build ev­ery­thing else around it. So say the peo­ple in charge of pho­tograph­ing and styling some of the most mouth­wa­ter­ing in­te­ri­ors in the world. What tricks can they share with us when it comes to re­vamp­ing our own homes? The in­te­ri­ors web­site remodelista. com prides it­self on spend­ing months track­ing down the minu­tiae we spend hours trawl­ing the in­ter­net for - just the right paint colour, sofa, bath­room tap - in its sump­tu­ously il­lus­trated online pages. The web­site is ad­mired by ren­o­va­tion ad­dicts and Hol­ly­wood lead­ing ladies alike, such as Os­carnom­i­nated ac­tress Ju­lianne Moore, who “moon­lights as a de­sign junkie” and has called it her first source for in­te­ri­ors in­for­ma­tion. She used it to find ev­ery­thing from light fit­tings to sev­eral shades of white paint, tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the “steal the look” sec­tion for her makeovers. In her “pre-Google days” she would trawl char­ity shops and hard­ware stores to help ren­o­vate her 19th-cen­tury Man­hat­tan town house, fol­low­ing her mother’s edict that “ev­ery­thing in the house be put to use”. Moore in­stalled an eat-in kitchen in her for­mer liv­ing room, with­out com­pro­mis­ing on the his­toric char­ac­ter of her build­ing, al­though you won’t find any­thing re­sem­bling the stan­dard func­tional style, with over­head cab­i­nets or a fridge on view. Ev­ery­thing from the wooden chop­ping boards art­fully stacked in open shelv­ing, to the free-stand­ing, black­ened white-oak cab­i­netry, is de­signed to look like el­e­gant draw­ing-room fur­ni­ture. A fi­bre­glass cast of Ju­lianne’s body and a chair bought from the set of her film Blind­ness are the few clues of her movie star­dom. The “less is more” mantra is top of the Remodelista list. “The peo­ple we fea­ture have a few favourite items on dis­play. They know them­selves so well that they have pared ev­ery­thing back. They don’t over­clut­ter a room,” says Julie Car­son, co-founder of the web­site, who has cu­rated a huge col­lec­tion of im­ages, do-it-your­self projects and in­te­ri­ors stock­ists into a new book (see end). “A good start is to have un­usual ar­eas in which to store the para­pher­na­lia of ev­ery­day life,” says Chris­tine Chang Hanway, from the Remodelista team. “Shelv­ing over win­dows, for ex­am­ple, is pop­u­lar as it plays with the light in a room.” Small changes can have a big im­pact, they say, such as swap­ping ugly plas­tic light switch plates for metal or ce­ramic ver­sions for an in­stant room up­grade; in­tro­duc­ing “odd cou­ples” in a space, such as a hum­ble tin con­tainer on a mar­ble counter to cre­ate vis­ual in­ter­est; and be­ing mind­ful of the tini­est de­tails, such as us­ing cop­per nails for a pol­ished look. Cast­ing a pho­tog­ra­pher’s eye over pro­ceed­ings could also make you look at your home through a fresher lens, high­light­ing the ar­eas that might ben­e­fit from more colour or trea­sured ob­jects. Si­mon Be­van, life­style pho­tog­ra­pher, has worked on a num­ber of glam­orous shoots. For a space to work, he says, al­low your per­son­al­ity to shine through and get the com­po­si­tion right. “As a pho­tog­ra­pher I al­ways think about colour, tex­ture and light and how they con­form through the viewfinder.” Be­van has pho­tographed Clouds Hill, the hugely at­mo­spheric Dorset re­treat of writer TE Lawrence. “The cot­tage, though tiny, ex­uded per­son­al­ity through all the ob­jects he kept and trea­sured. It felt as though he had just walked out and left on his mo­tor­bike.” A film di­rec­tor’s home he pho­tographed had a wall of coloured wine bot­tles as a room di­vider. “Even bat­tered old leather boots left on beau­ti­ful tiles in the hall­way cre­ated at­mos­phere.” For Ben Ken­drick, home de­sign ed­i­tor at Coun­try Liv­ing, putting to­gether the in­te­rior pages for the mag­a­zine is very much like “cre­at­ing a stage set”. Ben uses colour as a start­ing point, a spe­cific pe­riod paint from Far­row & Ball, favour­ing paler tones from Paint Li­brary. “Mus­tard and strong cit­rus shades can be warm and up­lift­ing, com­bined with black and white, navy or grey, or warm woods and nat­u­ral tones. Gen­er­ally it is eas­i­est to limit your­self to one or two colours in a room: try a theme of dif­fer­ent tones of reds and pinks against off-white or blues and beiges to­gether, but then I’ll of­ten add a rogue el­e­ment of a green or yel­low to stop a room look­ing too ‘done’. Tem­per all th­ese com­bi­na­tions with whites, off-whites and creams to pro­vide a rest for the eye in any room.” Ben rec­om­mends a mix­ture of open and closed stor­age. A glazed wall cup­board can show off prized pos­ses­sions. “Nat­u­ral el­e­ments – flow­ers, fo­liage, fruit, found ob­jects from a coun­try walk, or even a stack of logs – al­ways add another di­men­sion to a home.” Emily Chalmers, an in­te­ri­ors stylist au­thor with a quintessen­tially Bri­tish, eclec­tic bent, says peo­ple fo­cus on colour when tex­ture is just as im­por­tant. “Even with an all­white house, look more closely and there will be woven white fab­rics, white leather, a tex­tured white rug and white gloss floor paint, which will make it look in­cred­i­ble.” The trick is to “think of a room in lay­ers, like cloth­ing. Vis­ual in­ter­est comes from hav­ing fur­nish­ings in dif­fer­ent lengths and tex­tures. Stag­ger heights: three low-hang­ing lamps over a din­ing ta­ble looks won­der­ful, or a col­lec­tion of mis­matched prints and plates on a wall cre­ates a vis­ual feast.” For fab­rics, “re­uphol­ster a chair or sofa in a woven ma­te­rial; layer two or three rugs over each other in sim­i­lar colours but dif­fer­ent tones”. To make a room look less for­mal and more cosy, she ad­vises keep­ing one el­e­ment slightly off kil­ter. “It might be a very tidy area with a beau­ti­ful mir­ror – drape a fab­ric or gar­land over it to soften it. On a cof­fee ta­ble with neatly ar­ranged books, plonk a vase there with rough flow­ers. And re­mem­ber, if you re­ally like two con­trast­ing ob­jects, have the con­fi­dence to show them off. You are the thread be­tween them so they will al­ways look well placed.” For more in­spi­ra­tion: Remodelista: A Man­ual for the Con­sid­ered Home by Julie Carl­son (Ar­ti­san, £25.99). Photographs byMatthewWil­liams; oliv­er­fre­; coun­trylivinged. com; For more in­te­ri­ors pic­tures: go to tele­­erty

Star at­trac­tion: Ju­lianne Moore’s re­mod­elled kitchen in her Man­hat­tan house

Trend set­ters: A sit­ting room shoot for Coun­try Liv­ing, left, Emily Chalmers’ din­ing room, top, an ‘Ikea kitchen’ with bells on fea­tured in

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