I can’t believe I missed this! Madcap decorator, writer, raconteur, crooner and bon vivant extraordinaire Nicky Haslam recently moved into a new London flat, as covered by T Magazine, of The New York Times, a few weeks back. He has traded his smaller, slightly contemporary, moodily nocturnal and glamorous flat for a light-filled bottom floor arrangement in a London property that boasts high ceilings, traditional moldings, and a blank canvas on which to paint his exuberant fantasies. Part Stephen Tennant, part Cecil Beaton, with a good dose of Eugenia Errazuriz thrown in for good measure, Haslam’s new quarters are grander, airier, and unquestionably his own by design.
The new living room represents a marked departure for Haslam, who is best known for his own brand of English country house-style glamour: think rooms swathed in dusty mauve and smoky lilac floral chintz, silvered chinoiserie wallcovering, sparkling chandeliers and personal bibelots scattered about. Here fresh, chalky white walls and a spare furniture arrangement floating on bare white painted floors feels fresh and spontaneous, echoing early 20th-century’s style setter Madame Eugenia Errázuriz’s dictum “Throw out and keep throwing out! Elegance means elimination.” Haslam’s love of smoky lilac continues to seduce nevertheless, this time in solid punctuations. The overall affect is reminiscent of an aesthete’s light-filled garden room fit for a glamorous cast of characters.
The “power of faux” is in evidence here: a faux marble panel surrounds a real marble fireplace, and an engraving of a Piranesi-style ruin is outlined in an irregular gilded frame whose shape echoes a Cocteau drawing. Resin falcons are painted white to mimic porcelain, and a pair of Warholesque portraits of Haslam by the artist Skid Stewart hang over a daybed. Framed panels on the walls are whimsically rendered in gray and appear to shimmer like mirror. The unexpected white painted garden chairs, formally flanking the fireplace, channels Eugenia Errázuriz.
Eugenia Errázuriz introduced garden furniture and a ladder into her trendsetting home in Paris, photographed for Harper’s Bazaar in 1938.
The living room in Haslam’s previous London flat had dark mauve painted walls and simple cotton upholstered sofas. The Piranesi-style engraving featured in the second photo had previously hung over one of the sofas in this flat. Four stools, when placed together, complete a fake Picasso painting.
Another view of the compact living room in Haslam’s previous flat features a classically-inspired tableau set upon a draped table placed beneath a window.
A metal chinoiserie lamp hangs above a table surrounded by the Picasso stools from his previous flat in the exotic and fresh dining room. The over-scaled white painted cabinet from his previous living room takes pride of place in the new dining room.
A portrait of Haslam’s great friend, Lady Penn, was the inspiration for the peacock-blue dining space.
The entry hall introduces 1930’s-style glamour with an exotic mix of faux-bamboo walls, a faux shell console topped by a parade of faux terra-cotta statues, and a whimsical hand-painted floor fit for Cole Porter.
A northern Italian wood bed is dramatized with a wood-and-canvas baldachin inspired by a Cecil Beaton sketch. The walls are painted a chocolaty oxblood, and the floor is carpeted in olive-green AstroTurf. Yes, AstroTurf! How is that for irreverent madcap kitsch? It actually feels quite liberating, throwing out the rules book.
A plaster relief hangs in Haslam’s bathroom, another faux interloper on the scene.
Haslam, ever the inveterate “atmospherist”, has beguiled us yet again with his new London flat. Read the full story by TMagaine here. Photography by Simon Upton.
Photos of Haslam’s previous flat are from his book Sheer Opulence. Photography by Simon Upton.