You may recall that I had posted that I was going to be doing an interview with Christina Strutt of Cabbages and Roses, and share some pictures of her new book entitled At Home With Country. So without further ado, here it is! The questions are in all caps and Christina’s responses are just below. I’ll be interspersing pictures from Christina’s new book within the interview for your enjoyment.
At Home With Country by Christina Strutt. CICO Books, $29.95; www.cicobooks.com.
Photo Credit: Edina van der Wyck
MANY WOMEN ARE AFRAID TO PURSUE THEIR DREAM OF STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
Do not be afraid! If you are choosing this new path it will be because you have a passion for it. Do your research thoroughly, ask friends, neighbours, mothers at the school gate, family for their opinion. I have just heard on the wireless a rather wonderful saying "FAIL TO PLAN IS TO PLAN TO FAIL” which seems to me to be a rather good maxim. Plan well trying to cover every eventuality. Ask yourself is my idea unique, saleable, desirable - and if it already exists can I do it better than anyone else. Be prepared to give 100% of your time and head space to your new venture and if this is not possible, find a partner who shares your enthusiasm and passion for your enterprise - this will either halve your burden - or add to it!! If you do have a partner, the first thing to do is work out your exit clause.
Clearly define areas of responsibility and be realistic. Having your own business is both thrilling and terrifying so keep control of finances and if you can possibly avoid it - don't borrow any money - a lot can be achieved on a small budget and let the growth of the business fund itself.
IF YOU ONLY HAD $100 TO SPEND ON UPDATING OR ADDING TO YOUR DECOR HOW WOULD YOU SPEND IT AND ON WHAT?
I would buy a book on making things - Home Made Vintage published by Cico Books would be a good start. If you already know how to sew spend your money on some beautiful fabric and turn it into cushions or new drapes. Alternatively go to your wardrobe and turn a skirt or dress made from lovely fabric that you haven't worn in years into cushions. That way you won't have spent anything and I would take my $100 and buy flowers. And finally you could go to a junk shop or flea market and buy a piece of furniture - you can usually find a lumpy, dark wooden piece which, if it were simply painted white could become a beautiful and functional piece.
DO YOU HAVE ANY BASIC GUIDELINES FOR ARRANGING YOUR ROOMS?
Decide on a focal point, I like to make the fireplace the focal point of a room. Usually though it is the television that is the focal point. Be practical and take note of how the room is used. How many people use it and for what purpose. Make sure the seating is comfortable and that there is a place for each seat where a cup or glass can be safely put down. As much as you can, fill it with things you love and get rid of things you don't.
I don’t like empty walls, so I fill the space with pictures and paintings this brings warmth and interest to a room.
WHEN DO YOU KNOW ENOUGH IS ENOUGH IN A SPACE/ROOM?
When I have this problem I add and add - a small table here, another chair there a painting a pile of books. Keep standing back and take an objective view. If it seems not to be working, start again - empty the space and slowly build it up again. Follow your instinct - only you can judge.
CAN YOU EVER DO COUNTRY IN SOME ROOMS BUT NOT IN OTHERS?
I think country works anywhere - but if this question means can you do a country style bedroom in a modern loft appartment then yes I think you can. Country style can be minamilist and clean as well as cluttered and cosy. I once saw photographs of a beautiful hotel decorated with Cabbages & Roses fabric - there was a bedroom - huge, white and plain with nothing but a Cerise Hatley (see www.cabbagesandroses.com) vintage linen bedspread - it was divine.
WHO OR WHAT HAS INSPIRED YOU MOST AS A DECORATOR?
Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler were doyens of interior fashion and their legacy still thrives - their country house design was as beautiful in the 1930's as it is today. The countryside is always an inspiration, the changing seasons, the wholesome nature of life in the country.
DO YOU FIND IT DIFFICULT TO STAND OUT AS UNIQUE AND ORIGINAL FROM OTHERS?
It is difficult to be original as during the past 2010 years I think most things have been done before! However every person's mind is unique and it is the assembling of the same ideas in a different way that makes things original. However we try not to be influenced one inevitably is. At the beginning of Cabbages & Roses we would go to shops for ideas, but the opposite happened. We would have our own lovely ideas and be so disappointed to see that someone else had already executed them. So the best solution by far, is not to look outside for inspiration, but to create your own.
WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION AND IF YOU COULD BE ANY COLOUR IN A CRAYOLA BOX WHICH ONE WOULD YOU BE?
I would be the pink one if you asked me in the summer and the cherry red one in the winter. Faded full blown roses are such an inspiration as is a cosy red room with a roaring fire filled with books in the winter.
WHAT IS THE ONE PIECE OF DECOR IN YOUR OWN HOME THAT YOU WOULD NEVER SELL OR DISPOSE OF?
I think the fireplaces, which are the focal point of all our rooms - I feel that a room without a fire is a room without soul. Everything else is disposable (she says bravely!) If this question wasn't so mean, in that I could choose more than one thing the list is as follows in order of importance:
Photograph albums, pictures, dolls house, the rug in the parlour. We had a chimney fire a few years ago and whilst waiting for the fire brigade, having safely put the children in the car outside, we had fifteen minutes to save what we could from the house - all I could think of was the photograph albums!
Thank you so much, Christina, for taking the time to share yourself with us and for making us all feel that we can, indeed, make our house a home; and a lovely one at that!