Home Comforts: kimchi, crystals, cocktails (and mocktails) with Alice Crawley
The interior designer takes a balanced approach to life: for every smudge stick there’s a strong cocktail – it’s an ethos we can get behind
- Grace Helmer
“Every space needs to be brought to life.” Interior designer Alice Crawley’s decorating motto is emblazoned upon her website, but it almost needn’t be. Take a glance at the schemes she’s devised for houses in both London and eastern Asia – where she lived for 14 years – and you’ll see it writ large in her patterns, prints and textures, her interest in artisan crafts and extraordinary one-offs.
Drawing on her background in fashion (Alice worked at Evisu in Hong Kong before founding her own brand, Wondaland), she has a particular fondness for fabrics. The defining flavour of her decorating is, however, its east-meets-west approach: think classic chintz upholstery on bamboo furniture, smart lacquered finishes, chinoiserie walls and carefully chosen antiques from around the world. And where better to see all this in action than in her own home in Notting Hill, where she, her husband and her three children live amid a flurry of swatches and sumptuous trims.
Alice, we learned when quizzing her on her Home Comforts, is a ceaseless decorator. When she’s not coming up with clever ideas for a new kitchen window seat, she’s thinking about lampshades for an upstairs bedroom. No wonder she hasn’t found the time to start planting her herb garden yet….
My most recent home improvement…
A wavy-edged floating window seat in our kitchen I designed using a template I cut from a roll of paper late one night. I always prefer mocking up things like this manually, even if it’s not perfect, as so much can get lost in translation – and technology.
I upholstered the seat in Fermoie’s green ‘Fontana’, which I also used to re-cover some antique cane bar stools that sit at the kitchen island. The overall effect is very pleasing for a family of perchers like us.
The latest addition to my wardrobe…
A pair of New Balance ‘550’s, which I wear with almost everything. I just need to try and keep them clean for as long as possible! I am lusting after a pair of velvet mary-janes from Le Monde Beryl to take me through the party season.
The most useful item in my kitchen…
A huge glass water tank full of activated charcoal and various crystals that I swap in depending what mood I’m in – to much mockery from my family.
What’s always in my fridge…
Lots of spicy condiments: Flying Goose sriracha, various homemade kimchis and, of course, Clamato juice for bloody marys.
The prize bottle in my drinks cabinet…
Something white and very buttery! Though when I was pregnant earlier this year, it was a battle between Three Spirit’s Nightcap (think whiskey with a bit of a Valium for non-drinkers) and Botivo, which is an insanely good Negroni-esque non-alc cocktail mixer. Both are delicious and beautifully branded.
Hanging on my walls…
Pieces by a very talented friend, an up-and-coming artist called Honor Weatherall, who has wonderful style. I find the precision of her stripes and curves very calming.
My husband and I also bought an amazing piece of art by Linda Jamieson, who paints abstract landscapes using unexpected colours, to defamiliarise the familiar.
The knick-knacks on my mantelpiece…
It’s always changing. Right now we have a mismatched pair of antique porcelain pagodas from Hong Kong, a wedding invitation or two, bamboo-framed photographs of family and some nice swirly candles from Edition94. There is also a gorgeous ‘Belles Rives’ tray from my best friend, James Lowther’s, the Lacquer Company and, in a colourful Murano glass tumbler, a big bunch of Palo Santo smudge sticks, which I often burn to cleanse the air – again, while being mocked by my family.
The books on my shelf right now…
I just finished One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. It was amazing and I feel sad about leaving it behind and having to come back to the real world. Marquez writes so elegantly. Also: Siddhartha: An Indian Poem by Hermann Hesse; The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, and The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller, which I’ve just picked up and already can’t put down.
The music on my stereo…
Nick Mulvey, Moriarty, Ella Grace, Angus & Julia Stone, Camel Power Club, Parra for Cuva and some classics from the 1980s and 90s. I used to listen almost exclusively to electronic music, which is good for concentration but can be quite zombifying!
Growing in my garden…
All sorts of blossoms, a mimosa tree and some young wisteria, camellias and lily of the valley. I haven’t quite got round to cultivating a herb or kitchen garden yet (our veggie patch died last summer…). It’s something to look forward to getting stuck into when I’ve got a bit more time. Or when I get a little more green-fingered.
Hidden away in my cupboards…
Masses of wallpaper and fabric offcuts from past projects, which I am always looking to upcycle. I recently made use of some amazing embroidered fabric by Jim Thompson, left over from the last project I worked on in Asia, as the leading edge on a pair of chintzy curtains; the juxtaposition of the two is very pleasing.
On my to-do list…
Transform the top-floor bedroom. I plan on creating a cosy space hung with a pretty wallpaper called ‘Nasturtiums’, by illustrator Honor Addington, using little green-and-white striped lampshades by my good friend Alice Palmer. Watch this space!
Alice Crawley Interiors on Instagram
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