WALKING into the home of jewellery designer and interiors stylist Marianne Cotterill is like walking onto a movie set – everything looks stunning.
With its beautiful French beds, vintage mirrors and covetable pieces, it is the kind of home for which the term “room envy” was coined.
Having worked as an interiors stylist for Harrods, Graham and Green, and The Conran Shop, as well as on campaigns for Farrow & Ball and M&S, plus a host of film and TV companies and magazines, she knows what looks good. Marianne herself looks as elegant and stylish as her home, but the funny thing is, she tells you that most of the beautiful things in her house have been found in junk shops, skips or abandoned in some other way, and did not cost the thousands you might have imagined.
For six years Marianne ran a concession in Selfridges, selling her own mix of customised vintage jewellery, vintage wallpapers and perfumes and candles by the Parisian perfume house Diptyque. Prior to that she worked as a fashion stylist, so having an eye for what works best has clearly always been a skill. These days she also works as an interior designer and is writing a book with designer and fellow vintage fan Pearl Lowe, called The Vintage Home. Her own book, The Stylist’s Home, will be out next year.
Everywhere you look in Marianne’s home there is something exquisite, from a gold-leaf sculpture light that she found in a vintage market in California to Mexican hat lasts resting on old chairs. As Marianne says, “If you are surrounded by things that please you, your life is immeasurably better.”
Having originally studied French, Marianne realised she wanted to do something with art so switched to art and textiles at Birmingham University. On graduating, she lived in the South of France for a year where she taught English as a foreign language before then teaching in the Far East. She moved on to a career as a fashion stylist working on major advertising campaigns including Levis before having children in her early 30s, when she starting working with interiors so she could spend more time at home. After studying a course in interior design at Chelsea College of Art, which she says she did not enjoy, she looked into the possibility of using her own home as a location.
“I got a card printed up and sent it around to magazines and advertising companies, and within a few weeks the bookings were coming in. I wanted to do something that would allow me to be at home with my children,” she explains.
Fortunately the house was big enough to accommodate her five, now grown-up, children, Bridie, 18, Declan, 20, Cormac, 22, Bea 24 and Ted 26. The property has six bedrooms and four bathrooms, and Marianne and her barrister husband Terry bought it nine years ago. When they moved in they opened up the kitchen by knocking down a wall, and they put in two new bathrooms and wet rooms.
“What we loved most about this house was that it had hardly been changed at all. The same lady had lived here for more than 65 years. She was in her 80s and from a Scottish family. Her husband had been an optician and when we moved in we found one room covered in old spectacles and looking glasses, it was incredible.
“Any other house of this size in London would probably have been changed into flats. We fell in love with all the original features and tiling,” she adds.
A David Hockney drawing of a nude that Marianne’s husband bought a few years ago takes pride of place in the blue sitting room on the ground floor. There is also an eye-catching white and yellow rug from the Rug Company that stands out in the sitting room floor. “It may have been expensive, but it will last and last, and I really adore the colours,” Marianne explains.
These pieces sit comfortably alongside the quirkier finds, such as the 1970s aquamarine sofa that Marianne found on a street corner and then had covered in Osborne and Little fabric.
“I do have a bit of a thing for sofas,” Marianne reveals. “At my last count I had 21,” she admits. “Some people collect shoes; my thing is sofas!”
The master bedroom is a relaxed space with scarlet curtains from Designers Guild and a bed she found in France, perhaps not surprisingly, on the side of the road. One of Marianne’s indulgences is good quality bed linen.
“I adore Peter England cotton sheets. I’m a real stickler for quality. Every time I go anywhere on holiday I take my own pillow. The kids all laugh at me, but then they always want to use it too,” she says.
One of Marianne’s tips for making any house look good is to concentrate on the first space visitors see inside a home. “Create a dramatic hallway using really good lighting and a huge mirror,” she says.
Last year Marianne turned her hand to a new venture and started making her own jewellery. Each piece is hand made and is based on ethnic Indian hand jewellery. “A lot of people were asking me for these, so I started making them myself,” she explains.
When it comes to creativity, Marianne clearly has all bases stylishly covered.