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On a brisk Friday afternoon, I ventured to the prestigious borough of St John’s Wood; an area of London marked by its beautiful Victorian houses, quaint little parks, and the famed Lord’s Cricket ground. Walking from St. John’s Wood station, the Rolling Stones’ Play with Fire came into my mind on a loop.
As I approached the Holiday House event, which, although not occupying a full block, was comprised of two large houses on Hamilton Terrace; a street that proclaims, “If you’ve made it here, you’ll make it anywhere!”. Suddenly, I knew what Mick Jagger was talking about. I was expecting to see décor that featured padded armchairs, pre-Raphaelite paintings, an Afghan rug, Folie wallpaper from Cole & Son, and maybe some hand-painted dinnerware from Divertimenti. And, while this would have still have been beautiful, what I walked into was something much, much cooler.
“Shoes please” The doorman said, pointing to my boots. I saw that the others in the home, mainly impeccably dressed women, casual-chic men, and Barbour-clad Americans, all donned blue plastic slippers over their shoes. “We recommend you start downstairs” the woman said, as she stamped my ticket. The tickets, at £24 each, go towards raising funds for breast cancer research, the initiative of this charity event. A beautiful and worthwhile cause, a selection of leading interior designers have painstakingly crafted each room into a masterpiece. Oh, and all of the enviable furniture and décor is for sale too in a bid to help the cause. Holiday House was founded by Iris Danker, an interior designer and breast cancer survivor. With her desire to merge her love of interior design, and a calling to fundraise for a cause close to her heart, she developed the first designer show house in New York City. From there, it gained traction, becoming the prestigious organisation it is today, and deciding to feature a show house in London. The co-chairs of Holiday House London, Joyce Misrahi and Rachel Laxer, have ensured that the London event will adhere to the past successes and standards of the organisation.
Following the woman’s advice, I headed downstairs to the first room, and I instantly fell in love. There, staring at me, was Queen Elizabeth II, donning Louis Vuitton, sticking her tongue out at me. Budweiser meets Jeremy Scott it was, old-money Brit it was not. No, unfortunately, it wasn’t the actual Queen, but a painting done by Endless, an artist who featured this work at his Beaut exhibition in Kensington in April of this year. The painting was accompanied by others such as teddy bear graffiti pieces, a Chanel parody, and a pop-art portrait of model-of-the-moment and vitiligo activist Winnie Harlow. To accent the fabulous artwork, a furry neon pink wall was erected next to a stunning, yet more subtle, dining table. I’ve never personally seen fur on a wall, but in truth, it really worked; I was sold.
This room led into a kitchen, which, in the holiday spirit, had giant ceramic candy canes adorning the ceiling. Pink bowls of candy peppered the room, which was anchored by a marble kitchen island with millennial-pink bar chairs. Upstairs housed a stunning living room, with wall-to-wall modern art and a cascading lamp. There was also a second dining area, decorated for Christmas, with an unusual, albeit gorgeous memento mori: a chandelier that resembled a hanging skeleton; coolly blurring the lines between Halloween and Christmas.
Other notable rooms in the first house included an aptly named “Teenage Dream” room. This room, which trust me, I would’ve died to have as a teenager (and even now), featured a fan-frame bed, pink geometric wallpaper, and a neon sign that said, “Oh la la”. Oh la la indeed! No detail was missed; in the closet were stacks upon stacks of Sophia Webster shoes. On the vanity table were vintage glasses in fun shades, a stool that resembled a piece of cotton candy, and a multicoloured clutch. Above this, a heart emoji wall-piece with googly eyes, summarizing my thoughts on this display to a T. This room was designed by Studio Suss, which, if I ever make it big, will be giving them a call to make my teenage dream a reality.
As I walked into the next room and saw a pair of Aquazzura flats, I understood that the designers working on Holiday House truly understood the relationship between interior design and fashion. Despite the obvious links, such as fashion houses creating home lines, interior design and fashion are both creative mediums; drawing from and inspiring pop-culture aesthetics. It was apparent to me that the taste in Holiday House did not just extend to furniture or art, but to the imaginary lives of the people that would live in these properties. In both homes, clothing was left in closets or strewn over the back of chairs, creating the impression that these homes were lived in. The clothing selected was most remarkable, with current designers and eclectic pieces that fit the mood of the room perfectly. Sophia Webster is perfect for a teenage girl, while a silver cashmere dress, hanging from the den in the second home, is perfect for a distinguished London woman. This idea of taste expanded into other details as well, such as scents, with diffusers being strewn all over the place; my favourite being Culti’s Mare Minerale.
In essence, the details of Holiday House are what truly set it apart from many other well-designed spaces. Even the door and cabinet furniture, some of which was designed by Joseph Giles, was stunning. These details did not go unnoticed, as I remarked a number of people stopping to admire the handles and their craftsmanship.
In a particularly dreamy and contemporary bedroom, with its cool blue and white palette, our Harrison Solid Brass Door Pull Handles in mid antique brass waxed rested beautifully on wardrobes finished with cloud-like detailing. This stunning bedroom was designed by the incredibly talented team at Laura Hammett.
The interactivity between sight, smell and touch is what made Holiday House such a spectacular event. Ticket-holding wanderers were free to go at their own pace, stopping to take photos of things that pleased them, or simply ruminating in a room to soak up the creativity. And, with big names backing Holiday House, such as Farrow & Ball, Holly Hunt and Oliver Sears Gallery, there’s no way this event couldn’t be a hit, but more importantly, a successful initiative for a great cause. My only point of contention was that I couldn’t buy the homes, rooms included. Although the event is now over, I would suggest attending a Holiday House event in the future; I know I won’t be missing it.