An interview with interiors journalist, stylist
and author Ellie Tennant
Ellie Tennant is a leading British interiors journalist, stylist, author and blogger. An influential industry personality who specialises in columns, trends, simple living and all aspects of design, vintage shopping and home style. Since becoming freelance in 2011, her work has been published in top interiors magazines such as Homes & Antiques, Grand Designs, Good Homes, Homes and Gardens and Country Homes and Interiors. In this interview, Ellie discusses her latest book ‘Chic Boutiquers at Home‘ and her favourite interior styles.
What initially sparked your interest in interiors and design?
I have always been obsessed with interiors – even when I was a child, playing with dolls’ houses! I decorated my bedroom again and again as a teenager and student. Weirdly, one of my favourite games as a young girl was to cut up Country Living magazines and make collages and moodboards! It was when I got a flat in London in my 20s that I realised I could merge my love of design with my passion for writing.
You recently had your second book published: Chic Boutiquers at Home. Can you tell us some more about this publication?
The creatives featured in my latest book Chic Boutiquers at Home (£19.99, Ryland Peters & Small) all run ‘chic boutiques’. I’m not sure if ‘boutiquers’ is actually a word, but hey – it is now. In this book, photographer James Gardiner and I explore the homes of online sellers. There’s also a chapter about how to set up your own online store, so it’s a good read for interiors enthusiasts and people who are interested in selling online.
You have also taken on styling and editing roles for other publications. Which of these have been your favourite to work on?
I enjoy all the work I do, but I particularly like writing meaty features about a specific topic – for example, an in-depth feature about a single area of antique collecting for Homes & Antiques magazine. I learn so much researching a piece like this and it’s a really fascinating process. I also love interviewing creatives – designers, makers, decorators, artisans – I am privileged to have a job that allows me to meet so many different and interesting people, giving me insight into people’s homes but also their lives.
Do you have one particular preferred interior design style, perhaps linked to a certain period or source of inspiration, or do you favour a more eclectic approach?
I guess my style could be described as ‘simple’ with a touch of ‘modern rustic’! I’ve seen fashions and fads come and go over the years and it’s hard not to be influenced by what’s ‘new’ or what’s ‘cool’ but I find as I get older, I’m much less concerned about what the latest look is and am instead drawn to simple, timelessly-stylish interiors. I suppose this is the one ‘trend’ that is the most enduring really – well-made, artisanal pieces that have clear origins, are beautiful, practical and long-lasting. I love vintage Welsh blankets, rusty hurricane lanterns and chunky wooden plates. My floorboards are all treated with lye and oil for a Scandinavian look and I love vintage pieces of furniture such as reclaimed chapel chairs. I like a lived-in look and hate show-homey homes, where everything is brand new and you can’t relax.
What do you think are some of the biggest interior trends to have emerged so far in 2016?
Hmmm…I suppose this year marble has gone ‘mainstream’! It’s now the go-to surface for kitchens and bathrooms, and looks gorgeous with brass or copper fittings, but I think it will date really quickly because it’s so fashionable at the moment. Marble might be the ‘1970s avocado’ equivalent of this decade…!
For you, what are the biggest, or most useful design events in the calendar for discovering new trends and ideas?
Maison & Objet in Paris is a highlight for me, where design studios from the world over present their latest collections to press and trade (interior designers and buyers). I always find something new and interesting there. My favourite areas are the stands where young, emerging designers exhibit their work – that’s where the really fresh designs can be found.
You have an active blog on your website. What kind of information, advice or inspiration can people expect to find there?
My blog is really a little area of the internet where I can share my life, my inspirations and things that make me happy. I don’t see it as a commercial opportunity – more as a little scrapbook for myself! I mostly write about simple living, country life, vintage shopping, foraging and random discoveries – whatever I feel like.
For more information on Ellie visit www.ellietennant.com