This month, we meet interior designer, Nicky Summer, who reveals her top style tips, perfect home and inspirations.
Q. What’s hot and what’s not in the world of interior design at the moment?
A. Interior design went through a long period of ‘east meets west’ and I think we’re over that ethnic ‘collectors’ vibe now. I still like to mix old with new, though, for example modern furnishings with large, classic framed canvases on the wall is always a great look and doesn’t date. I particularly don’t like anything too ‘modern’ or glossy, preferring not to be too attracted by fads. Our clients are spending large budgets and don’t want to feel their home decor is jaded after only a couple of years. We aim for quality and comfort, which will never go out of style.
Q. Any design makeover tips?
A. Get rid of the clutter, keep only what you absolutely love. Empty boxes and cupboards and give all your old bits and pieces away to charity. Within hours or days you’ll have forgotten all about them and you’ll feel lighter and more refreshed. Use good quality carpeting or wood flooring, invest in a fantastic bed, sofa and shower. Think about how you actually use your home…do you really want to invest in an amazing kitchen if you normally eat out? We avoid pattern like the plague so we rarely use wallpaper; we prefer neutral colours on the wall, such as those produced by Farrow & Ball. Equip your kitchen with a juicer and a blender then watch your life transform.
Q. Describe your perfect home?
A. This is easy…my perfect home is on Carbon Beach, Malibu, where you go to sleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. I love the ‘New England’ and colonial styles of decor… plantation shuttered windows, dark wood floors and ceiling fans. Many of the houses along the beach have pools in addition to access to the ocean, and I prefer mine in a dark green and black mosaic – which is more Balinese in style – rather than having a typical aqua-marine base. I love big European urns in the garden and lots of bougainvillea and cacti, which grow especially well in the arid climate. I love to have a water indoors too…either an aquarium or water-wall. Natural elements are important for making a home relaxing so we incorporate plants, flowers and water into our city interiors too.
Q. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you take with you?
A. I’d take a pallet or two of Viking Point mineral water, an Elizabeth Hurley Beach kaftan and a sketch pad….I have to write, draw and create.
Q. What new projects are you working on at the moment?
A. All our interior design clients are at the top of their field – they are the world’s elite from sport, media, business and entertainment, so they have to stay on top of their game and remain fit and healthy. Not only do we design using natural materials whenever possible, we also advise international clients on the best gyms and health clubs to join, fitness boot camps and spas to visit.
We reach them collectively through our online magazine which we publish every month. We have strong associations with hotel groups such as The Dorchester Collection, which has a phenomenal reputation for excellent hospitality – and their well-being facilities are excellent. We also have an interest in Viking Point fitness retreats in Malibu and Scotland, where clients can visit for a four day break to hike, train and detox. The brand includes mineral water, apparel and marine based skincare for men and women. Our interiors clients just love this additional and unexpected aspect of our service – not only do we genuinely care about their home environment, we care about their ongoing wellbeing.
Q. What charities do you support?
A. I support a few including those who help improve the life of cancer patients, help children, dogs and horses, and I’m Global Ambassador to Protecting African Lions (www.protectingafricanlions.org) which was founded by the Swiss based artist, Conor McCreedy. This foundation aims to halt canned and trophy hunting at its very roots, where lion cubs are petted in enclosures for ‘fun’ and shortly afterwards, once grown a little, they are pursued and killed by tourists. We live in an increasingly global society, therefore I don’t think there is any excuse for the world to turn its back on the cruelty and neglect of animals or children anywhere.
Q. Do you have any favourite architects or interior designers?
A. Michael S Smith and Frank Gehry.
Q. Who and what inspires you?
A. Not long ago my ankle was broken and I was inspired by the emergency team and doctors at Chelsea & Westminster hospital. They work so hard and are so kind. Anyone who excels in what they do, in sometimes challenging circumstances, impresses me. I’m inspired by the work of florist Rob Van Helden, the styling of India Hicks, the philosophy of former Navy Seal Mark Divine, the work of human rights lawyers such as Amal Clooney, it goes on… I try to always live with an attitude of gratitude, so I’m inspired daily.
Q. Any advice to young hopefuls who want to break into interiors?
I’d say that they should take on board that it is not a ‘hobby’ career and they can’t treat it as such, and neither can their client/s. It is a serious and responsible undertaking – less about coming up with a fancy scheme and more about managing a team of workmen, managing budgets, managing deliveries and managing client expectations. Until you can afford to hire staff, you have to develop the qualities to handle all that yourself and it’s not easy. Again, it’s a highly competitive area of business so you have to have people skills, sales ability, ambition, acumen and patience.
Back to News