HOW TO DECORATE YOUR HOME WITH PERSONALITY
Interior Expert view with Nosey: How does the founder of W.A.Green homeware boutique shop for her own home?
Nosey: Hi Zoë! Thanks for taking the time to chat to us about all things homeware! The store was on Charlotte Road, Shoreditch – and Covid’s meant you’ve needed to pivot the business to online-only – how’s that been?
Zoë: Hi guys! Thanks for having me! So the positive is, we’re still here! Our existing customers really supported us during lockdown and that gave us the energy to see a future in online. It’s been like building from the ground up again, but there’s no time for ego, and I’m pleased to say we’re starting to see the results of our endeavours into the previously unexplored land of SEO and other buzz words needed for the online world.
N: Such great news! Why did you launch W.A.Green back in 2017? And what were you doing before?
Z: Before 2017, I had gone back into my old role in marketing before I had children, but I was always hankering to do my own thing and found being bound by other companies corporate guidelines too creatively restrictive.
The original idea dawned on me when I was unable to find an interesting present for a friend. This was before Maker’s Markets took off and all the London stores were selling pretty much the same edit. I thought East London was missing some West End pizzazz and I decided to ditch the day job in marketing to develop my own shop and brand devoted to the joy of colour, and feel-good vibes taking inspiration from California.
N: Tell us more about your tag line – ‘Dopamine For The Home’.
Z: Dopamine for the home translates as a little hit of happiness for your home. There’s so much written about interiors with regards to paint colour and wallpapers, but to me it’s the little accessories that really make a home a stand-out place. I’ve had a huge brown sofa for over 15 years but I keep it alive with different coloured cushions. I see accessories as vital vitamins for the home. They are the pieces that give you joy when you place flowers in a vase or your keys in a bowl. They dress a room and finish a story like a pair of earrings does to an outfit. Everything tells a story – who made it, how it was made, where it was made – the entire product has feel-good.
N: What inspires you? Particularly when it comes to buying for W.A.Green?
Z: I always look for integrity and an original point of view. Have I seen this before, and how is this product different? What does it make me feel and who would I buy it for? Does it make me smile and I always question why I might not like it? If I think the majority won’t get it, then I think I might like it even more. It’s great when a product you’ve taken a risk on sells. You think “yes”, someone gets it too.
N: We noticed you’ve got a great mix between established and emerging designers – and that you’re a huge supporter of those independent designers. Why is this important to you?
Z: Supporting new talent is in the DNA of W.A.Green. I was in my late forties when I started this venture and understand the appetite of someone with a new idea, and the energy it takes to make something a real thing. By positioning emerging talent alongside established powerhouse brands it gives them the same exposure and helps the customer understand them if they can see them as part of the same story. My customers are interested in owning something different. They know their own minds and by supporting new designers they feel part of their story too.
N: We always feel that it’s important your home is unique and personal. What are your top tips for showing your personality in your home? How can someone do this well?
Z: Your home is where you really begin to discover yourself. For me, my home is my sanctuary but it’s also where I need to be nourished and feel invigorated for life. We recently had to move into a white rental flat during some renovation work and I likened it to living in a psychiatric hospital. I surround myself with things that make me feel happy. You should love everything you buy because every time you look at it you will be reminded of that special feeling when you found each other. A good way is by looking at your wardrobe and how you like to dress. My wardrobe is pretty much denim, white shirts, blazers and kaftans but I keep things looking interesting with shoes and jewellery. It’s the same in my home. I rarely wear pattern, so I don’t have wallpaper or ornate curtains. It’s not about buying into trends – its about tapping into your heart.
N: So, how would you describe your personal interior style?
Z: I was once described as a maximalist and I’d never thought of my interiors like that before but I guess it’s true. My fantasy house would be Tony Duquette’s Dawnridge, but my husband might have other ideas! I like creating contrasts and layering up colour. Colour loves colours. I’ve always loved dark smudgy walls with bright jewel colours. Unwittingly, I’ve kept the colours in my house pretty similar throughout. I realised the other day that my living room and bedroom used the same colours but in different ways.
N: How have you designed your home? How did you approach it?
Z: We moved into our house in 2003 and we could only afford to tackle one room at a time. I think every room has to have one piece of wow. In my bedroom for example it’s my headboard, in my kitchen it’s a terrazzo floor. When you have one room done you can then work out how to flow it into the next and so on. Work on getting one thing done right and be patient and you can’t go too far wrong. I think about how I want to feel in that room. With bedrooms, for example it’s important to feel energised when you wake up and start your day rather than concentrating too much on being asleep with your eyes closed. The majority of home life is spent in the kitchen so that needs light and an airiness to it. I’m only ever in my living room at night so that has been designed to be cosy, but during the day it looks fun as it’s crammed full of accessories and has art hung everywhere.
N: As a homeware expert, what’s an easy way to transform a room? What pieces does a room need generally to feel ‘done’?
Z: You’re there once you get a rug on the floor, some art on the walls and cushions on the bed or sofa. A vase or jug full of flowers and a lit candle or two is when you know you’ve really made it!
N: How do you usually shop for your home? Are you more of a collector of pieces over time, or do you shop in one go with a moodboard/checklist in mind?
Z: I always have a moodboard in my mind, but I’m a collector. I have vintage lights sitting in the loft waiting for the right moment to hang them. I’m very impulsive and super stubborn about what I like and what I want in my home. Our dining room table doesn’t work in our new kitchen layout and I’m struggling to find the right replacement, but I won’t settle on something that might do, it has to be absolutely right and that takes time. It will find me eventually! A house is never finished. People change the way they live, people move in and out, children leave home (sob) – you are always having to adjust how you live, and so your house needs to ebb and flex with you too.
N: Do you have a favourite piece of furniture, homeware or design feature in your home that you cherish?
Z: I have a black Bisazza pink rose mosaic in my bathroom. It was the first room we completed way back in 2004. The bathroom has recently been refreshed but the mosaic had to stay. I just love it and always will. I also still think about a gold leaf wall my husband created in the bedroom of our old flat. It was stunning, and I often wonder if the new owners kept it?
N: From W.A.Green, which are your favourite brands of the moment that we may not have discovered before?
Z: It goes without saying that I love them all, but we’ve recently began working with a couple of new candle makers, Pose Wax and Daily Flame. Both brands were developed in lockdown and they celebrate the female form.
Mylle pools have just dropped for summer. These adult pools are just brilliant. With holidays still looking doubtful, the pool was last years garden hero and we’re excited to be working with this female-owned brand again.
Ottolenghi has just launched a tableware range that we just can’t get enough of. The colours and layered approach are totally matched for our style of dining.
The Slowdown Studio throws make the most sensational wall hangings and we’ve worked with this LA brand from the get-go and love the small runs showcasing new artist’s work.
Finally, the Danish design brand Raawii. We adore their ceramic vases and bowls but their recently launched mirrors and lighting are stunning and real forever pieces.
N: As we’ve been in lockdown for a while now (and who knows what the future holds), do you have any advice on how people can spruce up their workspaces/desks?
Z: Eek, my desk is the kitchen table! I’d treat yourself to a great mug so you don’t feel sad about lockdown and the current state of things! If you have space then a plant is a must. A scented candle is a treat and a good looking pen pot is an essential. Treat yourself to a fun pen pot, something you enjoy looking at. I placed washed out Cire Trudon scented candle glasses on my husbands desk at home because I couldn’t bare to throw them away – the glass is too beautiful – but if I didn’t have these I’d use the Pierre Carron ceramic pot. The illustration makes me chuckle and the porcelain is incredible.
N: If you could have a nosey inside anyone’s home, whose would it be?
Z: All my customers! I love nothing more than dropping off an order so I can see who we’re buying for and how they live. But also, Vivienne Westwood is an inspiration – I love her style and passion for life – so would love to see what her home revealed about her that we don’t see in her clothing.
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