The Rules/ Anouska Hempel On How To Live In Style

The savant of the visual, Anouska Hempel is revered across the world for her originality and for her influence. In her career she has embraced everything from opulence to minimalism, and found success in both boutique hotels and private houses – especially her own incomparable Cole Park. This is a designer who sees everything, and instinctively understands it. It might be a Japanese screen, or a Tudor portrait, an object, a fabric, a color or a decorative technique. She may come to it innocently, but she will see exactly what it does, and how it does it. With a new book out last month celebrating her style, the London-based hotelier and interior designer Anouska Hempel, or Lady Weinberg as she is now known, shares with us some of her secrets to filling your home with bespoke personality.


1. Think Big/ You can start by getting a bunch of flowers and putting them in big old country baskets either side of the door – or if you cannot afford flowers, cut some leaves off a tree and give them a spray. Put candles or hurricane lamps in the window to let people know all is well – the display doesn’t have to be all chic and elegant. There is a lot more room for doing things off the cuff. We have been influenced by the Italians and Japanese, now it is time for English style to shine.

2. Earn Your Stripes/ Stripes look wonderful but you have to get the proportions right. Stripes in a small room won’t work. And small stripes are difficult to master, it’s better to use big stripes and to put a mix of sizes in a room. If you choose to use stripes, you have got to keep going to make them work. You must have conviction – take courage and then go for it. Everyone can do it.

3. Follow Your Heart/ That’s the most important thing. Don’t put up with any criticism. Most people think they’ve got an eye and they haven’t. And don’t be afraid of making a mistake. I go for it. It’s a case of “I don’t mind that there”, “That looks great there” and “Oh my goodness that’s a mistake”. And don’t be bound by trends: be an individual.

4. Be Dramatic/ I can stand in a room and it adds drama! A lovely big fireplace always adds a dramatic feeling and if you can afford to, have two at either end of the room. If you can’t, then get some candles organized to flicker and dance across the wall and you can just imagine.

5. Use Symmetry Outside/ The garden at Cole Park is my favorite space. It is very ordered and symmetrical and it works through volume and layering, as well as an eye for detail.

6. Don’t Give Up/ The most important lesson I have learnt from my years in design is to keep going. You have to maintain what you have started.

7. Play With Light/ Shutters on your windows are one of the best ways to add theater and illusion. They are wonderful as they let the light in and let it out, they can create wonderful patterns on the walls and give you instant stripes.

8. Be Inspired/ I never get tired or lost for inspiration. There is inspiration everywhere – even if I don’t like something, I can still find something that inspires me. I’m inspired by daily life. I am currently working on three children’s bedrooms where we are using denim trousers on windows, hats from Cameroon with pom poms, butterflies for the girls rooms. Go and have fun – you can have mad ideas. You can make a four-poster bed out of four polls and some carpet on the top – although be careful it doesn’t collapse and kill someone.


9. Have Fun/ Paint a wall, pull out a hat and hang it up, or project an image onto your wall. Design is just a matter of taste. You can always put it right. It is not a matter of life or death. Color is always a great opportunity to experiment. My favorite color at the moment is yellow – particularly saffron yellow – it evokes sunshine and glamor. You could have the yellow of a gold Japanese lacquered box and allow the daylight to play on it.

10. Embrace The Eclectic/ If I had to pick a favorite detail it would be the highly polished dark green marble in the drawing room in Addison Road. It is from the bottom of the swimming pool in the Maharaja Palace in Jaipur. It perfectly encapsulates my style: eclectic, intellectual and romantic.

11. AND REMEMBER… You don’t need money to have style – sometimes it helps – but it’s much worse to have a whole lot of money and no taste.

The amazing monograph Anouska Hempel by Marcus Binney is published by Thames & Hudson.