Eclectic, interesting and artistic, florist to the stars Nikki Tibbles lets her imagination run wild in her Notting Hill home

WITH her Wild at Heart shop, Nikki Tibbles is a star of the flower arranging world. Dark sunglasses wrapped around her pixie hair cut and dressed in killer high heels and mini skirt, she looks more like she has stepped out of a pop video than been arranging flowers for hotels and weddings.

Creating flowers for the stars has been in Nikki’s life for almost two decades. She was the florist for Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman when they first stayed in London, while Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman and designers Rifat Ozbek and Ralph Lauren have all been clients.

Now 51, after more than 18 years in the business, she has started her own home range with a collection of candles, throws and cushions, created by herself and other artists.

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Before she worked with flowers, Nikki was an advertising executive. Then she created a bouquet for a friend’s wedding and realised her true vocation. So she swapped her suits at Saatchi for an overall in a florist’s to learn the trade. Two years later she was running her own company.

Before long she could list fashionable customers such as Chanel, Paul Smith, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Burberry.

It is no surprise that her home – a five-storey town house in the heart of Notting Hill – is as interesting and creative as her flowers. She shares it with her musician partner Raymond and his sons, Oscar, 12, and Luke, 10, plus their four rescue dogs Tia, Reuben, Lenny and Smith.

Nikki did most of the decorating of the 19th-century property when she first moved in 12 years ago. “This is a home first, not a show home. That’s the most important thing,” she says.

An office takes pride of place on the lower-ground floor, a dining room and kitchen on the upper-ground floor, an open-plan living room on the first floor, a master bedroom suite above, and two further bedrooms and a bathroom on the top floor.

Throughout the house eclectic styles clash and quirky pieces such as old china dogs sit atop Missoni rugs while artworks abound. Pieces by Scottish artist Jim Lambie, Jake Chapman and Anselm Reyle jostle for space.

“I loved the light and space,” she says of her home. Though untouched for 25 years when she moved in, it luckily only needed cosmetic work.

Nikki painted the floorboards black and chose shades of greys for the walls. It works as the perfect backdrop for her eclectic collection of photography and modern art, with designer and vintage furniture, glass and ceramics, all mixed in together. “I only have things in here that I love,” she says.

The red and brown wallpaper is by Carden and Cunietti, and a large Terence Woodgate sofa is covered in vintage rose fabric.

In her bedroom, a large upholstered grey Edra bed takes up most of the room, and covered in cushions and rugs it is the perfect bed, Nikki says, for all the family and dogs to sleep on.

Not surprisingly, there are flowers everywhere with peonies and hydrangeas current favourites.

Nikki has found many interesting items at antiques fairs. “I like the ones at Ardingly and Kempton, and go to markets wherever I am in the world. I was at the Paris Clignancourt flea market at the weekend,” she says.

Many things are from car boot sales too,” she adds. “I love old, quirky pieces.”

A crucifix was a gift from Raymond (“We both love them – it’s a Catholic thing,”) and many vases were bought for just a few pennies.

“If I see something I like, it doesn’t matter if it costs 50p or £50.”

The house is full of ununsual pieces and Nikki often refreshes the look by moving things around. “I’m not always good with change,” she laughs. “But I move rugs and vases. That’s about as much change as I can cope with.”

Her home is for calm and stability, full of much-loved treasures and her dogs. “Work is always changing with flowers coming into season, new varieties, new colours,” she says. “I love the fact that everything changes every day and every season, but home stays the same. You can spend months and months working on some flower designs and creations and then after a few hours they are gone, wilted, dead. I love that,” she says.

Before Nikki came to run her own flower business she was living in a house in East London and renting a studio in Southwark in 1993. Then a note came through her door inviting tenders for a new flower shop in Piers Gough’s innovative Turquoise Island in Westbourne Grove, a slip of land housing public toilets and enough space for a florists. With characteristic enterprise, she sent over a bouquet of flowers.

“I wrapped some flowers beautifully and delivered them to the address they gave, which was the council’s waste department. Then I got a call inviting me to an interview – and they gave me the keys.” Nikki instantly loved the shop, though it was hard work. “I’d go to the market at 4am then open the shop at 8am – we were open until 8pm six days a week, and 10am to 4pm on Sundays.” Now she focuses on weddings and contract jobs, and works at some of the most extravagant events in the world. Recent highlights have been a royal wedding in Qatar, a wedding in Santorini and glamorous events everywhere from the south of France to the Hamptons in upstate New York.

After the Island came another shop in Ledbury Road, which switched its focus to flower-related interiors with a range of vases, floral textiles, scented candles and flower books. Wild at Heart has also opened concessions in Liberty and Harrods, with a redesign for the whole brand. Now the look is grey, black and silver, with an injection of Liberty purple. “I love it here in West London. I shop at The Cross, eat at Rosa’s, drink at The Cow and buy food at Tom’s. I love Portobello market and love walking to the park with the dogs. I’d never want to live anywhere else in the world.” k

Who is your favourite artist? There are many including Jim Lambie, Daniel Sinsel, Richard Prince, John Currin, Picasso, Gris and Ruebens.

What do you love most about living in London? Life, colour and choice.

Where is your favourite holiday destination? West Sussex, Bandol and 
New York.

What is your favourite food? Macaroni cheese, tomatoes, wild sea bass and cake.

What is your favourite perfume? My own fragrance made for me by Lynn Harris, a gift from by a friend. It has vanilla, parma violets, amber rose and violet, my favourite smells.