Renowned for her elegant interiors, Jane Churcill has designed interiors for everything from homes and horse boxes to helicopters – but ‘extreme comfort’ remains her guiding principle
What drew you to interior design?
I first opened a shop called Treasure Island on London’s Pimlico Road when I was 22, selling gifts and china. Ten years later I changed the sign to Jane Churchill Interiors and started the interior design company, which then led to Jane Churchill fabrics and wallpapers. Jane Churchill Interiors has been trading at 81 Pimlico Road for the past 40 years.
What makes Pimlico Road such a special street?
It is, and always has been, a wonderful place to be. It hasn’t changed as much as, say, Marylebone Road, where the bigger brands have moved in, and is full of wonderful and rather original things and people you don’t find everywhere else.
How would you define your style?
Traditional with a modern twist. Above all, it’s about extreme comfort. My style is easy, it’s not trying to be clever and loaded with technology that you have no idea how to use. Yes, you want it to be modern and work well, but you also want to be able to turn the lights on. Nowadays you have to get a rocket scientist to mend something when it goes wrong. I would never put in a boiler that couldn’t be mended by a plumber from the Yellow Pages!
Are you a big fan of colour?
I like a blend. I don’t like things to look too “show home” and I prefer something quirky in the mix, like a beautiful lamp. People get much too hung up on things matching.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere and anywhere. You have to be up for looking for inspiration, whether it’s on Instagram or Pinterest or in the pages of a magazine…it’s all around you if you open your eyes. It wasn’t like that when I started, but today there’s the internet that has good and bad sides – you just have to use the good.
Do you have an ideal client?
In all my years as an interior designer I have only ever had one client I couldn’t work with. Over the years many of them have turned into very good friends, and I have watched their children grow up. Above all, I am interested in people – and in this industry you have to have a feel for what makes them happy. I always say that 30 per cent of this job is psychiatric: trying to work out what the client wants, even when they don’t know themselves, and then knowing how to go about achieving it, while making them feel involved in the process. Nobody likes being told what to do, especially in their own home. There’s not a pitfall that I don’t know about, so I can usually anticipate them before they happen.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
We have just finished several projects in London and we have lots of other projects that we are working on. Having designed the interiors of horse boxes (not the bit where the horse sleeps), rickshaws and a Rolls-Royce over the years, I’ve just been asked to design some bespoke helicopters. We’ve worked all over the world, from Australia and Barbados to Spain, Russia and Germany.
Any favourite projects along the way?
A house in Barbados springs to mind. I love travel so this was a lovely one to do.
Favourite British furniture designers?
We use a mixture of old and new: Soane, Tyson, Guinevere Antiques and Tarquin Bilge for antique furniture. It’s all about finding out what people want. It is amazing how you can pull a house together just by changing the cushions.
And finally, what would you say are the golden rules of interior design?
Ensuring that the client spends money in the right way, on things that are meant to last, whether it’s a pair of taps or a bed. A good sofa can last a lifetime.
For more information visit Jane Churchill Interiors