Nature-inspired prints make a bold statement in Hastings house
Louise Body has thrown her life to the wall. Originally a painter, Louise studied fine art at Nottingham Trent University. These days she is an award-winning wallpaper and textile designer, who has recently produced new collections for Laura Ashley and John Lewis.
Louise’s father was a photographer and her mother a food stylist, so creativity was part of growing up. Brought up in a shared mansion near Reigate in Surrey, Louise and her brother and sister lived with five other families.
“My father was friends with the owner of the house and we each had our own self-contained units. It was wonderful to have so much space and as children we had huge grounds to play in,” Louise explains.
“I remember going to shoots with my Mum and seeing how she cleverly transformed things like mashed potato to look like ice-cream – they were both very creative and encouraging.”
Louise started working on wallpaper ideas in 2001 when she was part of Brighton-based studio collective Maze. For an exhibition centred around the home she designed a wallpaper called “More Tea Vicar”, featuring different tea cups and hands pouring tea.
The success of the exhibition led to orders for her hand-printed wallpaper. Louise then received a grant from the Princes Trust, which enabled her to set up her business.
Home now is a six-bedroomed Victorian villa in Hastings, East Sussex. A sea view, plenty of space and value for money clinched the deal for Louise, partner Jonny and their two children, Isaac, six, and Marney, two. The couple previously lived in Brighton, but high house prices encouraged them to move further along the coast.
Stepping into Louise’s home today you are greeted by a wonderful array of wallpapers. Every room has been decorated with her unique and stylish prints, many of which feature birds, elements of nature or household objects.
“When we first moved in, the house was in a dilapidated state,” Louise explains.
It took more than a year for the couple to complete the renovations, during which time they camped out in their dining room and cooked on a Belling camper stove.
“We installed a kitchen, which came from Wickes, as there was no kitchen at all,” Louise explains.
There are four bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor, while on the second floor they use two bedrooms as a studio and office. Throughout there is a fantastic selection of furniture from different eras, all of which has been inherited or bought from the many second-hand and antique shops in Hastings. “There’s nothing expensive in my home at all,” says Louise.
Although most of the work in the house has now been completed, with a new fabric collection just launched at John Lewis and two young children, everyday life can be hectic. Having travelled extensively, Louise says the one thing she misses is the ability to get up and go whenever the mood strikes. “Now with the business and the children we are pretty settled here, which I love, but I do get the odd hankering for my travelling days,” she admits.
“Whenever I’ve travelled I always used to take sketch books with me; everything influences what I do now.”
To see Louise’s work go to www.louisebody.com;
Louise Body fabrics launch on johnlewis.com this week
Louise Body’s favourite things:
What is your favourite perfume?
Prada Infusion d’Iris.
What was the last book you loved?
One Day by David Nicholls.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Provence in the South of France, where my Mum now lives.
Who are your favourite artists?
Cornelia Parker, Prunella Clough and Paula Rego.
Do you have any favourite places in Hastings?
The First In Last Out pub in Old Town Hastings.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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