Founded by Lucy Barlow, London based design studio Barlow & Barlow’s living interiors are an antidote to the blandness of the instant house look. Its boldly eclectic schemes feature custom sourced art, antiques and bespoke furnishing often designed together with the client. With an academic grounding in fashion and interiors, Lucy designs her schemes with a fearless and luxurious sense of print, pattern and colour.
1. What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go.
When I was at school I dreamt of being a fashion designer, but as I got older my interests turned more and more to interiors, after completing a diploma in architectural design at The Inchbald I was hooked!
As a child I was forever redecorating my dormitory and my bedroom at home with monthly makeovers. I guess the writing was always on the wall!
2. What field of design are you most interested in? Do your works have anything to do with it? (We are asking this because not many designers do what they want).
My projects reflect my interests, which are rooted in the traditional English interior approach of layering rooms with furniture, antiques and art, collected over generations, but my style is a little less full-on and slightly quirkier. I guess you can say I’m a traditional modernist (or maybe a modern traditionalist).
3. How do you choose your products from lighting, furniture and fittings to fit with the design process and is this selection led by quality or appearance?
I choose products by what feels right for the client and their brief. Our selection is always led by quality first and foremost.
4. What’s your personal style, do you have any Lucy Barlow signatures?
I like creating spaces full of interest, where everywhere you look, the more you see. My interior style is known for its sense of fun, colour and pattern – I would describe it as eclectic, personal to the client, layered and full of surprises!
Green and pink schemes feature in a lot of Barlow & Barlow projects and I often include a little leopard print, a favourite of mine.
5. What advice would you give to someone who is inspired by design into their own projects?
Be brave! When faced with two choices people will unsurprisingly opt for the safer one. We encourage clients to make choices that they wouldn’t necessarily make themselves and in the end they’re always so thrilled.
Cleverly layered interiors are what set successful interiors apart. Colours and patterns that on first sight might not seemingly match can work brilliantly together in a wider scheme. You need to take a whole view of the space, Including the art, objects, cushions, upholstery, curtains etc.
There needs to be a thread throughout a home – Something that makes for a cohesive design atmosphere. Not that all rooms have to be in any way the same but jumping around too many contrasting styles will make for a confusing environment.
Buy and work with what you love – colour, pattern, warmth, beautiful lighting – all tools to make you feel happy at home.
When buying anything of consequence, measure it once, twice and thrice, for good luck.
6. What is the significance of bathroom design in your projects?
Bathroom design is hugely significant in my projects, I find it’s most often the space that clients are happy to assign larger budgets to.
7. What is your favourite Drummonds product?
The classic Lowther Vanity Basin – it has an English country house style which works well for both classic & contemporary homes.
8. Do you have a key feature or element which your bathroom designs would never be complete without?
Guest bathrooms and cloakrooms are not used as regularly, making them great places to experiment with bolder colour and pattern choices. We often encourage clients to be really brave and choose brighter colour palettes and/or fabulous pattern that they may not feel confident to use elsewhere in the home.
9. Can you tell us about a particularly challenging bathroom you worked on?
Small bathrooms with restricted space into which the client wishes to fit everything i.e. a bath, a shower, sink and WC – these are always challenging.
10. What is your bathroom at home like?
The guest bathroom is finished in polished pink plaster and the master bathroom features a powder pink Carrara marble.
11. Where do you get ideas and inspiration from?
I absorb so much from interior design magazines and Instagram is an incredible source of inspiration, as are travel and visiting grand houses.
12. What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer? And the most rewarding one?
The hardest part of any project is making sure contractors understand your vision so that there is no room for error. The most rewarding is seeing the results!
13. What is your favourite book/magazine on design? How about your favourite site?
In the UK I love to read Cabana Magazine, House & Garden and World of Interiors whilst in the US I love AD and Domino for design and T Magazine for style features. Book wise I recently went to the book signing of Sig Bergamin. His new book is called ‘Maximalism’ – I love and admire his work.
14. Can you recommend a hotel you stayed in where the interior design really impressed and inspired you?
Our favourite hotel is called Hotel Locarno in Rome, which is classically Italian. Opened in 1925, Hotel Locarno, a five-star hotel in the historic centre of Rome, is a refined ‘guesthouse’: a gem of class and charm and an authentic guardian of a certain era. The hotel has an unbreakable bond with the world of art and culture; over the years it has offered shelter for artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians and travellers.
15. Is there a space in London which you find yourself continuously drawn to because of the beautiful interior?
The Soane museum, or Apsley House – the London townhouse of the Duke of Wellington that stands alone at Hyde Park Corner. Both endlessly inspiring.
16. Share something you would like the world to know about you or your ideas.
I really really detest orchids! I think they’re the biggest design faux pas since time began.
17. Who are your favourite designers currently working in the industry and why?
In the States Miles Redd – his projects are so fun and fabulous. From a commercial point of view I love Kelly Wearstler and the fearless way that she mixes colour, pattern and texture. I especially love her work with the Proper Residences.
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