22 Jul Friday Files – Q + A with Style Icon, Melissa Penfold
What is your favourite part of your job?
The only thing that’s always the same in my workday is that it is never the same. I’ll start the day checking emails, and then jump into phone calls, looking at new design releases, writing a column, or popping out to a meeting. I think that switching my headspace all the time, after more than 25 years, is what keeps me interested and excited. If it were formulaic, I’d be bored. I’ll end my day scanning the internet to see what’s been going on in the design world. I kind of do an overview. I spend a lot of time doing this, (too much). I love discovering new and attractive things that inspire.
Who is your design mentor?
My glam daughter Isabella Walker-Smith, who is across every exciting brand (and design) in the world, constantly inspires my interest in beauty.
What is your best design tip?
Of course you want your home to look good, but the way it makes you feel is just as important. Everything that surrounds you affects you, so only have things you love. Go for things and looks that fit in with your vision of yourself. Home is where the heart is, and a beautiful interior boosts your happiness and confidence.
What is your GO-TO soft furnishing product?
Chairs – I am borderline obsessed with all kinds: old to new; French, to English; Irish to American, the lot.
What is your favourite fabric composition?
Light or heavy, the fabrics I choose are always tactile – natural wins over manmade, for me. I love cotton and canvas because they are hard-wearing, inexpensive and practical. I adore linen and linen blends which are generally hard-wearing – the more expensive ones are usually tougher and feel softer. And I can’t go past a splash of silk for a shot of glamour.
What is your favourite Boyac product?
Hands-down, De Le Cuona!
If you could pick one fabric house to decorate your whole house in, which would it be?
I’m not a huge fan of strong patterns. I find they dominate, date and work best in isolation (a small touch beats a heavy hand). A house like De le Cuona where the focus is on heavy linens, thick paisleys, nubbly weaves and rough textures would be the one I’d use to build the character of my rooms and houses. And I’d be in excellent company (it’s the fabric every top designer is shopping right now from Nicky Haslam to Rose Uniacke, Kelly Hoppen, Veere Greeney, and lots more).
How would you describe your decor in three words?
Humble with rare.