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At home with Gabby Palumbo, from Flat15

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Dec 16, 2016

We quizzed interior designer and founder at Flat 15, Gabriella Palumbo, on her current interiors trends and tips.

Do you find that as an interior designer you always want to be tweaking your house?

Yes, but when I’m really busy with other projects I tend to find that my house gets really neglected. But yeah, I always want to try different colours and change things. I think painting my dining room pink was experimental. I ended up painting it back white again, because I thought white was cleaner. In the spare bedroom the dark grey was an experiment too, but I probably wouldn’t change that, I really love it.

I’m really big on accessories. I love incorporating them as it’s an easy way to change things around, so I like to always have a neutral base. I bring in colour with a piece of furniture or a rug. My style is more clean white walls and lots of greenery and then colour comes in through artwork, décor objects and cushions.

What advice would you give someone taking on a home redecoration from scratch?

I think it’s important to really do your research and really know the vision you want. And also, I’d say don’t be too hard on yourself, as sometimes when you’re doing things from scratch, things can go wrong. You can think you have every single thing covered, but there are so many details with putting a house together, even something as simple as where the outlets are going to go. It’s always a learning process, every time, as long as you have a really strong vision of how you want it to look it will come out okay.

And if you don’t even have a vision, how do you go about working out what you want? Where do you find inspiration?

Sometimes I’ll use Pinterest just because it’s a good way to find images, but lately I’ve been trying not to use it at all. It depends. It’s the easiest way to find images by far, there’s no other way that comes close to it, but I really try to use it as little as possible as I find that you become stuck in these trends that everyone else is doing. So I try to think outside the box and pull inspiration from other places and then if I know what I’m looking for I search for it on Pinterest.

I love interiors blogging. I think that it’s kind of like Pinterest in the sense that you see a lot of similar things but then there's also a lot of great bloggers and they’re doing things that are really interesting. I go to blogs for ideas whether it’s for interior, fashion or cooking.

One of my major way to find inspiration is commercial spaces. I love looking at hotels and restaurants, and even retail shops because I think they can push boundaries and trends with their interior design. I always think they’re in the lead in terms of what’s happening, especially restaurants. If there’s ever a hotel opening or restaurants I’ll visit straight away, as hotels can be great for ideas, they really go for it.

You’re from the states originally, but what do you love about London and British style?

One of the things I love about London is that I think people here have a really unique style. I really appreciate that. I’m from Philadelphia - it’s a smaller city, not like New York, and I think people are much more ‘safe’ in fashion and in everything they do. And so when I moved here it seemed like people aren’t afraid to express themselves, and they really just go for it. I think that’s amazing!

How did you create your beautiful gallery wall?

I like to try to buy one piece of art a year, so I collect pieces as I go. I go to a lot of art shows and auctions for inspiration, and I even love to sometimes use an image of a striking artwork from an auction catalogue (I will take out a page and frame it on a small gallery wall for example).  The butterfly I got at a car boot sale in East London, and I also included a photograph taken of my wedding in Miami. There’s a Grace Jones art print by the artist Chris Levine that I bought from a show at the Vinyl Factory as well.

This is one of my favourite walls in the house. I think it’s neutral but busy. To plan it, I cut out brown paper to the size of each frame, and moved everything about until it worked. Then I put everything on the wall. It’s a really hard wall too, you have to drill every single hole - you can’t put anything up easily - so I definitely planned it. Which is why I don’t want to change anything, I just want to leave it… forever! I enjoy it, even this one here is a vinyl record cover but I thought it looked like a piece of art. What you feature on a gallery wall could be anything. That’s the beauty with what you can frame to put on your walls, if you like it, you can put it up!

What's your favourite thing to cook for Christmas dinner?

Seeing as my roots are Italian, every year we celebrate an Italian-American tradition on Christmas Eve which is called the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Basically, we have a meal of fish and other seafood. Therefore, my favorite dish to make is a delicious, tomato based seafood pasta. It's always a hit in our family!

Favourite thing to eat at Christmas dinner?

My favourite Christmas treats are a selection of delicious bite-size Italian cookies and pastries. In particular I love biscotti, panettone and homemade pizzelles (we make them every year).

What's your favourite Christmas party cocktail?

My favourite holiday cocktail must always include a little pop of red to give it a festive feel. I really love adding a hint of cranberries or any other red berry to my sparkling champagne cocktail.

What's on your Christmas dinnertime playlist?

My Christmas playlist is an eclectic mix of all sorts of feel-good holiday tracks, but honestly I love listening to classic christmas songs this time of year. My all time favourites include, Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses, Baby It's Cold Outside by Dean Martin, and Last Christmas by Wham.

What's on your homes / interiors / décor wish list this Christmas?

During the holidays, it's always great to add a little coziness to the house. I love adding a touch of warmth with brass accessories, such as candle holders, coasters or delicate flower vases, so brass decor is definitely on my wish list right now.

What's your favourite part of the Christmas meal?

My favourite part of the Christmas meal is not actually the food itself, but the quality time spent with the people I love and sitting around the table laughing for hours.

Christmas prep / hosting can get hectic - how do you like to unwind?

Holiday hosting can get hectic, so the best way for me to unwind is with a good glass of wine and a classic Christmas movie.

To tinsel or not to tinsel? Is there ever a place for bad taste at Christmas?

I don't think there is ever a "wrong" way to decorate for christmas, just as long as it reflects your family, home and personality. This time of year is all about being festive so whether you are into retro colourful decorations or classic white and green, I say have fun with it because it only lasts about a month anyway!

Shop Gabby's tableware here.

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