Interiors: Going green

Tricia Guild’s striking use of colour at Designers Guild is gloriously mirrored in her Notting Hill home. Rebecca Armstrong reports. Photographs by Philip Sinden
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The Independent Online

It's appropriate that green is the colour of the walls of Tricia Guild's hallway, given how envy-inspiring the veteran designer's west London home is. The vibrant lime hue is bold but beautiful and is a shade that runs through the entire house. "The colour is just like spring," says Guild. "Even on the dullest day it means that this house always has a life and energy about it." Guild, who started Designers Guild in 1970, and two years later opened an interiors shop on London's King's Road, is known for her colourful and contemporary style and her home reflects her professional tastes with its palette of lime, fuchsia and turquoise. "I love colour," she explains enthusiastically, "but when you start looking around the house it's actually very tempered, with a lot of white and natural." So although the interior walls are striking, pale marble and light wood floors keep the décor from ever appearing brash.

Balance is the key to Guild's home, a Notting Hill villa with a modern interior, where original features, such as the sweeping stone staircase in the hallway, are updated with a colour – in this case, a splash of turquoise delivered via a painted handrail. Her living room is filled with stacks of cushions and swathes of fabrics, but thanks to simple pieces of furniture like a Saarinen table and low, sleek sofa, the effect is restful rather than jam-packed. But surely with her own interiors emporium, it must be tempting to furnish each room with the latest must-have? "The furniture does change," she admits,"but it's a way of experimenting with the collection. And I don't constantly change things in a fickle way." In fact, after living here for 12 years, Guild says that apart from lightening the shade of one wall ("it was far too dark"), she hasn't changed the colours of the house.

That's one of the luxuries that comes with starting with a blank canvas as she and her husband – the restaurateur Richard Polo who owns theatreland favourite Joe Allen's – did when they bought their home. "Oh God," shudders Guild, "it was five floors of bedsits, the hall was a bathroom, it was truly a wreck." But, she says, this was what was so exciting about the property. "It was very freeing to not have to worry about changing historical aspects of the house," she says, "because they'd already been altered."

After banishing the bedsits, Guild installed a circular skylight at the top of the house which floods the staircase and hallway with light. She raised the ceilings and created a dream master bedroom complete with his and hers walk-in wardrobes and a freestanding stone bath, separated from the sleeping area by a sliding glass door. And if that isn't enough to turn any visitor lucky enough to be given a tour into a green-eyed monster, then Guild's airy study, decorated with her eclectic collection of ceramics, and the huge ground floor, with its state-of-the-art kitchen and surprisingly cosy reading area, are sure to. One unexpected aspect of Guild's home is the fact that it is almost entirely wallpaper free. Given that her company is world famous for its wall coverings, it seems a little strange that paper plays no part in her house. "I love all our wallpapers, but I live with them at the shop," she says. Instead, she has plumped for a custom blend of pigment and plaster that has a mottled, irregular finish, reminiscent of a beautiful, crumbling Italian palazzo. "You mix pigment with plaster and you retain a natural, organic look," she says. "Sometimes the finishes are beautiful and sometimes they're not so beautiful, but that doesn't matter."

Along with colour and ceramics, flowers are a huge – if ever-changing – part of Guild's home, and the subject of her new book, Pure Beauty, Pure Style, Flowers. Dotted throughout each room of her house are vases – some huge, some the size of an ice cube – filled with an array of fresh blooms. "Flowers form the life and the energy of the house," she says with quiet conviction. "There are so many different kinds of flowers and so many different ways of using them. The style of the flower doesn't change but the way it's used changes." Hothouse varieties jostle cheek by jowl with more homely hyacinths, a reminder that this design doyenne is also a keen gardener who isn't afraid to get grubby in the garden. "It's a real passion. I love gardening and flowers – that comes through in my work and almost everything I do." Palazzo paint jobs and walk-in-wardrobes may be beyond most of us but, as Guild's home goes to show, some well-placed petals can make any house blossom.

'Pure Beauty, Pure Style, Flowers' by Tricia Guild is published by Quadrille, £19.99