As CEO of Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour – regarded as the world’s leading interiors destination – Claire German works at the cutting edge (or should that be the braided trim) of interior design. Ahead of Focus/23, she shares the story of her own home. By Jessica Jonzen
CLAIRE GERMAN IN HER HOME NEAR WANDSWORTH COMMON. IMAGE: MILO BROWN
Where do you live and why?
I live in Wandsworth, close to the Northcote Road, with my husband, Johnny, and our son, Guy. We have lived in this house for 34 years so it has seen us through many different life cycles, from Guy growing up here, to Johnny and I soon entering a new chapter as empty nesters. We never considered leaving this house because we just love the location so much. From a brilliant antiques market, a local butcher and a fish monger to independent coffee shops, bakeries and great restaurants, it really has it all. I love that everything is within walking distance and weekends can be spent pottering around, gathering the essentials for entertaining friends that evening.
I also enjoy being just a brisk walking distance from my office at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. Most mornings I will walk in along the leafy common, which is an invigorating way to start the day, using the time to listen to a podcast, audio book or to take a work call.
How would you describe your home?
It’s very serene: there is an immediate sense of calm as you step through the front door, but that calm is balanced with plenty of character that makes it feel personal and inviting. We recently renovated our home so there is still a sense of wonder and immense pleasure to be had from the new look and feel. I worked with the wonderful interior design duo Eadie & Crole on the room schemes. Being at the Design Centre every day, there is so much inspiration and many beautiful products, fabrics and wall coverings to be found in the showrooms that I felt spoilt for choice when it came to whittling down to one specific look or colour palette. This, matched with the fact I am an avid collector who has accumulated a lot of china and glass over the years, meant I was extremely grateful to Eadie & Crole for helping me to hone in on exactly what I wanted. I felt their expertise most keenly when it came to selecting the colour palette of the interiors; a lot of my favourite colours have weaved their way in – from pinks and greens to buttery yellows and warm neutrals.
I think the space we have has been maximised brilliantly, ensuring every inch of the house really works for us and the lifestyle we lead now. My china and glass is now displayed in the most inventive ways, from the cabinets we had painted chocolate brown on the inside and cream on the outside, to the display shelf we have in our kitchen, I can now showcase and enjoy these treasured pieces in a way that feels intentional and unfussy.
Most of the antique furniture we previously had on display is now in storage as the pieces felt too large for our reconsidered home but we did keep some key pieces, such as an antique chest in our drawing room. This blend of old and new feels really fresh and more suitable for our lifestyle – I want people to feel they can sink into the sofa, be comfy and enjoy the space.
CLAIRE GERMAN’S RECENTLY RENOVATED KITCHEN AT HER WANDSWORTH HOME. IMAGE: COURTESY OF CLAIRE GERMAN
What was the first thing you did to your home when you moved in?
We removed a Tiffany-blue carpet in the sitting room – I could not live with that!
If the objects in your home could talk, which would have the best stories to tell?
My mind immediately springs to a family portrait we have of a relative which is hanging in the drawing room. She looks very stern but I can see some humour in her eyes and I so enjoy her ruffled neckline which I think is nicely complimented by the beautiful Porta Romana lamp by its side. We recently restored and reframed the painting to make it prettier and I think she appears to have cheered up since the renovation – perhaps the Porta Romana lamp is lifting her spirits!
Which part of your home makes you happiest?
I must say I love my bedroom. We opted for a pale pink headboard covered in fabric by Veere Grenney at Tissus d’Hélène which is so pretty against the plaster pink on the walls and creates a real sanctuary. Fresh flowers also bring a lot of joy to a home and I go to the local flower market every week – this week it’s orange roses to mark the new season which is just around the corner.
What’s on your bedside table?
CLAIRE’S BEDSIDE TABLE, FEATURING A TREASURED COASTER MADE BY HER SON, FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS, A LAMP WITH A MATILDA GOAD LAMPSHADE AND A COPY OF ‘EARLY MORNING RISER’ BY KATHERINE HEINY. IMAGE: COURTESY OF CLAIRE GERMAN
What was your childhood home like?
My mother always had a wonderful sense of style and has defined my first memories of interior design. She had gorgeous fabric on the walls – I recall a fabulous orange linen in the dining room. She had a great eye for lighting pieces too, and there were always lots of lamps and pretty lampshades throughout our home. We had a lot of antique furniture and my brother and I steered clear of the formal drawing room in fear of ruining my mother’s beloved cushions! In short, a lot of pattern and colour ran through my childhood home which was very of the time, which I suppose represents me being a late sixties child.
Do you have a domestic guilty secret or pet hate?
My little domestic guilty secret is that I keep a vintage Fairy Liquid bottle and decant the new washing up liquid into it every week. I am just very fond of the older design and it sparks some joy into domestic life!
What are some of the most memorable things which have happened in your home?
This home has been full of laughter and has seen a tremendous amount of fun dinner parties and drinks in the garden. I love entertaining and my husband is a very good cook – we work well as a team and co-hosts, so we really love nothing more than seeing our friends gathered around the dining table.
What makes your house a home?
Ultimately, the people within a house make a home. I also think home is about creating a sense of calm – somewhere you close the door and feel at peace. There should also be points of interest, wit and character within the scheme that represent your taste and personality. I always feel a sense of pride when I walk through the house because of the elements that make it feel so precious and personal to me.
CLAIRE’S TREASURED ASTIER DE VILLATE CHINA COLLECTION. IMAGE: COURTESY OF CLAIRE GERMAN
THE NEWLY REFURBISHED KITCHEN FEATURES DINING CHAIRS UPHOLSTERED IN FERMOIE FABRIC. IMAGE: COURTESY OF CLAIRE GERMAN
CLAIRE’S FAVOURITE VINTAGE FAIRY LIQUID BOTTLE. IMAGE: COURTESY OF CLAIRE GERMAN
A RECENTLY RESTORED PORTRAIT OF AN ANCESTOR IS DISPLAYED BESIDE A PORTA ROMANA LAMP. IMAGE: COURTESY OF CLAIRE GERMAN
DAVID SEYFRIED CHAIRS UPHOLSTERED IN FABRIC BY ANNA SPIRO. IMAGE: COURTESY OF CLAIRE GERMAN
Focus/23 is taking place at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour from 18 – 22 September and people can register to attend here: Focus/23 Registration | London Design Show | DCCH
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