Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recipe for a successful, comfortable room

Sitting room at Haseley Court, image from little augury

Nancy Lancaster thought rooms should look undecorated, aged and furnished over time. We agree with her. Here is her list of things that are important for a "comfortable environment," from The Great Lady Decorators:

"1. In restoring a house, one must first realize its period, feel its personality, and try to bring out its good points;
2. Decorating must be appropriate;
3. Scale is of prime importance, and I think that oversized scale is better than undersized scale;
4. In choosing a color, one must remember that it changes in different aspects;
5. Understatement is extremely important, and crossing too many t's and dotting too many i's makes a room look overdone and tiresome. One should create something that fires the imagination without overemphasis;
6. I never think that sticking slavishly to one period is successful; a touch of nostalgia adds charm. One needs light and shade, because if every piece is perfect, the room becomes a museum and is lifeless;
7. A gentle mixture of furniture expresses life and continuity, but it must be a delicious mixture that flows and mixes well. It is a bit like mixing a salad. I am better at rooms than salads.

To these guidelines Nancy always added her magic ingredients; open fires, candle light, and masses of fresh flowers."

image from live like you blog

Her famous yellow room above is filled with beautiful furniture and things and yet don't you just want to kick off your shoes and curl up in a chair? Comfortable, beautiful rooms have form and function working together hand in hand.

Charleston designer Amelia Handegan's rooms have that same feel to them.

the other side of that room above -

image from Southern Accents

I adore this Alessandra Branca room! Look at all of the fresh flowers.

image from elle decor

This Branca room conveys vibrant warmth and beauty.

image from Southern Accents

Branca understands what Nancy Lancaster was describing above - she says: "For me it's not enough that a room look good. It also has to work. I put an incredible amount of effort into making people feel comfortable." from New Classics Interiors by Alessandra Branca


  1. I'd never seen the "yellow room." I think I need to look at it every day. Does it still exist?

  2. Nancy Lancaster's yellow room was located in a showroom next to the Colefax and Fowler offices in London. She created it in 1957. I believe that it no longer exists - but I may wrong. Anyone?

  3. Beautiful rooms! And wonderful rules for decorating. Thanks for sharing, Helen

  4. You know, I usually shy away from yellow rooms. I think they show up really bad on camera... just kind of dingy and dirty, but these photographs are wonderful! I love the list of room must haves!

  5. The yellow room still exists at Colefax and Fowler. It's still yellow, and still has the painted swag decoration near the ceiling, but the room is now used as a showroom for the shop, so the furniture and items change from time to time.