What do you get when you mix an English country house style with elements of Africa, Asia, Russia and South America? Luxury nightwear designer Olivia von Halle's sumptuous house is what.
Though located in the heart of Canonbury, stepping over the threshold of Olivia's slightly eccentric but entirely inviting home is like entering into a shop of curiosities, hidden in a country manor. From the boudoir to the garden, everything is richly decorated and uniquely put together, so prepare yourself for some serious house envy...
"An English country house in London on acid" was the brilliantly original brief for the interior of your home. Where did this idea spring from and does that best describe your aesthetic preferences?
I grew up in the country and have always loved the way that country houses feel imperfect, but very much loved and lived in. I absolutely love maximalism – The Eye Has to Travel by Diana Vreeland and More is More by Tony Duquette are my style bibles.
I wanted my house to feel homely and cosy like a country house, whilst being quite smart, with lots of beautiful and interesting things to look at. I am quite materialistic and get a huge amount of pleasure from my possessions, so I wanted a home that was a great backdrop to all the weird and wonderful things I have amassed over the years. My style is the opposite to Shabby Chic – my husband calls it 'Heritage Tack' which I think sums it up perfectly!
Where did you buy and source all the amazing decor in your home?
My great friend Sussy Cazalet is an amazing designer and she sourced a huge amount of it for us. Long days were spent at Chelsea Harbour, which has showrooms for pretty much all the big design firms. A lot of the fabrics we used come from Manuel Canovas and Alidad; the sofas are from sofa.com; the kitchen is from Neptune who do amazing solid wood custom built kitchens, the wallpaper is from Catherine Cazalet who also did the specialist painting of the walls in the sitting room and my dressing room, and a huge amount of the artwork is by Jessica Russell Flint who is a friend and does really cool prints. Most of the decorative pieces have been bought home from trips to Russia, Asia, South America and Africa.
What do you love about your area?
I love that we are smack bang between the chi-chi shops, bars and restaurants of Upper Street and the grimy but oh so important dry cleaners, nail bars and pound stores of Essex Road. I love being able to jump on the bus and be in Soho in 15mins. I also love being able to go out in Dalston and have a wild night out but come back to the clean streets and beautiful architecture of Islington.
You used to work from home but now have a studio space. How do you relax and unwind after work?
I run a long Jo Malone oil filled bath and get in it with a cup of earl grey tea, a sea salt chocolate bar and a good book. I can lie in the bath for hours at a time!
How does your decor at home differ to the interior of your studio?
My studio is all white, minimal and clean with just some framed campaign imagery on the walls. I think it's important to keep the studio space blank so each season we can work a new aesthetic against it.
You're constantly travelling for work. What's the most incredible interior you've ever visited, anywhere in the world?
I went to a friend's wedding at Le Palais Rhoul in Morocco and we were lucky enough to stay there. It was absolutely incredible, so opulent and so much to look at but felt utterly relaxed.
Did living in Shanghai influence your interior style or designs?
Shanghai has a strong Art Deco influence; the city was built in the 1920s and was known as the Pearl of the Orient. Its nightlife was one of the best in the world. I love this period and always find it inspiring.
Where do you see yourself living in 10 years' time?
We have recently rented a house in Wiltshire where we have been spending every weekend. I have a horse down there and Bathtub (my dog) absolutely loves it. If I was living there permanently in 10 years' time I would be a very happy girl.
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