You may recognize some of the rooms featured in today’s post but most probably, like myself, until now you didn’t know the name of the designer behind the look. The name of the designer in question is Vivien Greenoch. Vivien worked at Colefax and Fowler for twenty-seven years until 2000, at which juncture she broke off on her own. Today she runs her eponymous business from a second floor office above Soane on London’s tony Pimlico Road. In the spirit of her predecessors, Nancy Lancaster and Sybil Colefax, Vivien is also a decorator to London’s socialites, powerbrokers and tastemakers. But, almost unheard of in our day and time, Vivien didn’t rise to her A-list status by promoting her pedigree but by remaining private and under the radar. After learning the business as a junior assistant at Colefax and Fowler she eventually earned her stripes as assistant to the legendary Tom Parr. The rest, you could say, is quiet history.
As we peruse the photographs I have culled for this post you will recognize the Colefax and Fowler influence in Vivien’s work – rooms washed in sorbet shades of pale peach and buttery yellow accented with blue, prettily painted furniture, and her favorite Colefax and Fowler fabrics. But you will also notice a restraint that sometimes verges on the masculine. Greenoch’s decorative lexicon, which combines the classical country house look with contemporary elements, continues the legacy and tradition of English country house style, and the romantic ideal it implies, producing rooms that are at once comfortable and practical.
At Gateley Hall, Greenoch’s country house in Norfolk (top photo), she has used her expertise as an interior designer to restore the once neglected eighteenth-century house and decorate it in a quintessential English style with restraint and elegance.
In the entrance hall, which doubles as a dining room, eighteenth-century chairs surround a large circular table and a collection of Delftware is framed by the plasterwork above the chimneypiece.
The stairway showcases a collection of family portraits in pure English country house style.
In the main bedroom the curtains and bed canopy are in a Colfax & Fowler discontinued fabric.
The Duke and Duchess of Beaufort called upon Tom Parr and Greenoch, his assistant, in 1984 to help preserve their ancestral estate, Badminton House. Used by the family as their main sitting area, the decor of the classically proportioned library combines formal and informal elements with fabrics and colors that bring the gardens outside the windows indoors. The bookcases originally stood in the Great Drawing Room but were moved to this room in the early 19th-century.
The famous blue bedroom used by the previous Duchess of Beaufort is hung with several pastel portraits. The fabric used for the bed is “Hops” by Colefax and Fowler.
The double drawing room on the first floor of a Kensington townhouse in London exemplifies the Colefax and Fowler style with walls painted in colors favored by John Fowler.
A homely vignette in the same drawing room of the Kensington townhouse.
Another drawing room in the Kensington townhouse is richly decorative and deeply comfortable.
The Manhattan living room of W magazine founder John Fairchild and his wife Jill reflects the 1980’s taste for richly appointed rooms in the English style.
The Fairchild’s library epitomizes what many British aficionados of English country house style refer to as “Mayfair country house style”, country house style decor suited to the city, made popular by private club mastermind Mark Birley, founder of the exclusive London nightclub Annabel’s.
Vivien dressed the bed, walls and curtains of the Fairchild’s London bedroom in Colefax and Fowler’s “Brompton Stock”.
A sitting room in a cottage utilizes one small floral rep pattern with exotic appeal on a white ground that feels light and fresh.
A sprightly fresh floral cotton was used in a drawing room where comfortability is king.
When Oscar and Annette de la Renta could not agree on a stylistic direction for their master bedroom suite Oscar handed it over to his wife because it’s her favorite room in the house. With Vivien, the duo created a richly appointed and layered suite of rooms free of prettily patterned chintz and feminine contrivances. The sitting area more resembles a library in a fine Georgian London townhouse a la Mark Birley than a Colonial period country house in Connecticut.
Vivien’s grand stroke is this ornate chintzy four-poster bed with a decorative pelmet that would look right at home in an English stately.
Hopefully we will see more of Vivien Greenoch in the months and years to come. Her superlative English country house style is tempered by an eye that understands restraint and elegance. More, please!
Photographs not noted are from Vivien Greenoch’s on-line portfolio HERE.