At Home With: Lucinda Chambers

A woman sits on a chair in the lounge of her maximalist home.

The former British Vogue fashion director and cofounder of shopping platform Collagerie on colour, creativity and why interiors are better than fashion

By Phoebe Frangoul   Monday 27 January, 2020

‘Growing up, I was the least stylish of my friends,’ says Lucinda Chambers. ‘Homes were always my comfort zone.’ This will come as a surprise to many, given her astonishingly varied career in fashion which spans her influential tenure as fashion director at British Vogue, consulting gigs for Marni and Prada and, most recently, the launch of digital platform, Collagerie, cofounded with Serena Hood.

Soho Home sat down with the queen of maximalism at her cosy, colourful west London home of 30 years, crammed in among an eclectic mix of books, textiles and paintings, to discuss all things interiors.
Top of fireplace decorated with lamps and vases
On being comfortable… 
‘A lot of people come and stay here – my Colville partners from Milan and people up from the country – and they call it “Casa Crow” or “the Crowtel” (my maiden name is Crow). I like making people feel very comfortable and warm – “cosification” is my first priority. Comfort is really underrated: if you’re not comfortable in your clothes you can’t be stylish, and it’s the same with a house. It becomes too self-conscious.’

On functional spaces…
‘If you can’t throw yourself down comfortably, something’s got to give. When your house reaches critical mass, cull. I learned that from a friend, Russell Marsh. We have a higgledy-piggledy farmhouse in France where he and his husband stay every year. Often they’ll get there before us and make a pile of all the things they don’t like – I love it when people have a fresh eye. From him, I’ve learnt to make spaces functional.’
Bathtub in front of wall decorated with plates
Comfy armchair next to fireplace
On layering… 
‘I love this house because it has layers and layers of love and memories. Every now and again, I think it looks like a mad person lives here, so I’ll do a bit of a clear out. We’ve lived in west London for around 30 years and what’s great about Shepherd’s Bush is that it’s never got chichi; it still has incredible personality.’ 

On being fearless… 
‘My mother was a real craftswoman. She was a bookbinder and a marbler, and she would build dry-stone walls and wallpaper whole flats on her own. I learnt how to be fearless with interiors from her. Recently I’ve been looking at marbling in a different way and I feel that’s a bit of her coming back in – I’ve just bought some marbled lampshades.’
Bookshelves filled with books built around an open doorway
On creativity… 
‘I’m drawn to green (Frome Lamp, Soho Home, £245), old chintz and stripes, and in some way, they all go together. I was lucky enough to be trained by Grace Coddington, who went on to become fashion director of American Vogue. She looks at everything like a child does – without judgment. She taught me to look at things in the same way, like everything could be a picture. It’s the same with homes: vases, a bunch of leaves, [or] a scrap of fabric can all make a beautiful thing for the home. I like making lampshades and collages, and still use my old Singer sewing machine to make stuff. I like getting crafty.’

On colour… 
I love using colour, whether it’s styling clothes or decorating my home. If there’s an opportunity for colour, always use it. Start with swatches and see if they talk to each other. The last thing I painted was my little upstairs bathroom which has about five shades of grey, with lilac and plum, and green for the ceiling. But funnily enough, I’ve also got a shelf with only white things on it (Conch Vase, Soho Home, £35).’
Armchair next to lamp surrounded by art
Sofa in front of wall of framed art
On decoration… 
‘Whether it’s for the body or the home, for me it’s one and the same: decoration is life-enhancing. Once you get the building blocks right, like the sofa and tables (Amsterdam Screening Armchair, Soho Home, £1395), you just need to add and subtract the decoration – such as the cushions (Reza Cushion, Soho Home, £95). I love everything from Moroccan to mid-century modern; if you love something, they somehow will go together, even though I don’t ever think about things “going together”.’

On neutrals…
‘If you say the word “rattan” to me, I’m like a rat up a drainpipe. I love all things neutral (Redchurch Rug, Soho Home, £995), like wicker, or anything naturally woven (Sona Chair, Soho Home x Anthropologie, £600) or colourful.’

On sourcing… 
‘[Sunbury Antiques Market at] Kempton is a favourite, Chiswick Car Boot is brilliant and I can never go to Morocco without picking up a rug. The best market I’ve ever been to is the Rose Bowl in LA – it’s absolutely incredible – but my essential is Portobello Market on a Friday morning. However, as I get older, I buy less – I tend to refresh things instead. I’m also a great believer in using things up: I’ll paint a chair or a lamp in the colour I’ve painted a bedroom, so it all works.’

Images by Tina Hillier
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