When decorating her former home in Ilford, Whinnie Williams, co-founder of interiors brand Poodle & Blonde, drew inspiration from an unlikely source: Only Fools And Horses. ‘It had an original 1970s kitchen, patterned carpet and yellow bathroom suite,’ she says. ‘I made it really tacky, like Del Boy’s house.’ There are elements of that same love of the kitsch in her new home, a three-storey, five-bedroom Victorian townhouse in Margate, on the Kent coast. Here, though, the retro details have an elevated feel.
When Whinnie, her partner Tom Dream, a music-video director, and their many pets (two poodles, ten rabbits, two guinea pigs, three chickens and her nan’s cat) first moved into the property it was, she says, ‘a mess’. ‘It had been chopped up into bedsits with sinks in every bedroom and a garden like a jungle, but it had so much space and potential, it felt like a dream.’
Over 18 months, the couple revived the house, transforming it into a showroom for Poodle & Blonde, which sells wallpapers, fabrics and stationery digitally printed with Whinnie’s hand-painted patterns. Throughout her home, these designs feature as either a backdrop or accessory to her collection of vintage furniture sourced from car boot sales, Ebay and secondhand shops.
‘It’s fun using old pieces,’ she says. ‘I usually know I want one key thing in a space and wait until I find that.’ Her discerning eye is apparent in the design of every room, starting from the hallway, where everything is monochrome, including the Dalmatian-print wallpaper. In the open-plan living area, a bold striped vinyl floor makes an impact, while sleek terrazzo floor tiles and forest-green cabinets add interest in the kitchen. Upstairs, the seriously 1970s rose-tinted bathroom suite is matched with pink marbled tiles.
‘My style is glamorous, camp and fun,’ adds Whinnie, whose influences are diverse – ranging from art deco to mid-century modern – but always underpinned by an alluring 1970s vibe. ‘It’s my favourite decade: the textures, the colours, the playfulness. I love to host and didn’t want my home to feel too precious. Whether it’s an eight-piece band in the conservatory, rabbits on the sofa, or a fashion shoot in the living room, I like the fact that this house can survive it all.’ poodleandblonde.com
This feature appeared in ELLE Decoration October 2019.
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