Archive | July, 2014

Decoding British Colonial Style: Part 1

I’m busy reading E.M Forster’s  A Passage to India and find myself day dreaming of balmy days & breezy nights, sipping G&T’s on checkered floor verandas filled with & big potted palms and deep comfy cane sofas…. Just a perfect setting for another post on our  ‘Decoding’ instalments. This time up: Colonial Style.

Seeing this is quite a hefty topic to tackle, I’ll be breaking it down into the relevant Colonial Styles, ie. Spanish, Portuguese, French and Dutch. But first up, we’ll be ‘de-coding’ British Colonial Style. Where did Colonial style originate? Colonists of course, are to be thanked for this style and it all starts with where their flag gets planted!

Colonial architecture is an architectural style from a mother country that has been incorporated into the buildings of settlements or colonies in distant locations. The colonists built a settlement that synthesised the architecture of their countries of origin with the design characteristics of their new lands, creating a hybrid designs.

But of course, it is much more than that. It is the fusion of food, fashion, lifestyle and sometimes love, that brings forth something beautiful and unique but always with a little mystique and a touch of the exotic….

British Colonial Style

So as we know, the Brits were quite good at the flag planting game, and can possibly considered the leaders of the pack, whilst gathering some exotic jewels in their crown such as South Africa, India, Jamaica, Kenya, West Indies, Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) and Singapore. Although all of these countries have since received independence, the colonial influence still lingers and makes for something really special.

What is find specifically interesting, is the blending of British influence of the coastal- and island colonies, compared to that of the inland colonies, in terms of colour treatment and furniture choices – it always seems to be ever so subtle and never forced, just the perfect mixture of formal Britishness and with an air of relaxedness the relevant colony brings to the party. A true match made in heaven.

Coastal British Colonial Style

As with all of the Colonial styles, most were born out of  a sense of practicality, rather than aiming for a certain style. Weather conditions played a big part in forming the style, taking in consideration that these exotic coastal regions had their fair share of extreme weather conditions –  torrential rain storms, typhoons, humidity & heat waves that would make many a  pinkish Brit want to hitch a boat ride back to the Big Smoke.

What elements can we consider to be traditional for describing this style?

Dark Floors & -Furniture

Of course it makes more sense to use locally available wood, such as teak & mahogany, to manufacture furniture, but still paying homage to its traditional British roots – furniture was still fairly formal & traditional in style, but carried elements in the form of carvings of the colony of origin.

British colonial style, bedroo

source: Pinterest


Also aptly called ‘hurricane shutters’, something the colonists adopted from the locals. Not only brilliant for privacy, but also for controlling harsh sunlight, but still allowing a natural breeze, definitely required for those stifling hot days and nights. And they are on permanent storm duty,  for when required. Not to mention the architectural value they add to any house – always beautiful.

internal shutters, british colonial

Architectural Features

High rafter ceilings – to help combat the heat!

Wide porticos/verandas – no other way the pinkish Brits could cope – always dotted with locally manufactured cane furniture, mostly painted white, or otherwise left untreated.

Cool flooring – think screed floors, beautiful mosaic or classic black & white checkered tile flooring on verandas.

british colonial, veranda, floor, cane furniture

source: pinterest

Dealing with the heat

White on White

Wall treatment, linen, slipcovered furniture, you’ll find mostly in white or shade thereof. Another way of helping with the stifling heat and to keep rooms feeling light, airy & ‘breathing’  – and to keep mozzies at bay. What is prettier than a mozzie net draped bed? Also of course plays off lovely against the dark floors and furniture. How gorgeous are these candlewick covered bed throws and Mosquito nets by Thom Sheerer?

Bedroom, British Colonial, four poster

source: Stylecourt

Ceiling fans

Beautiful to look at and what better way to fall asleep, with that ‘swoosh swoosh’- sound above your head. You’ll love it, the mozzies not.

India Hicks, Hibiscus Hill, British Colonial

India Hicks, Paddle Fans, British Colonial

source: hibiscushillharbour island

Bring the Outside In

Potted plants, ferns, a lovely orchid or bowl of local fruit, can be even prettier than a bouquet of flowers – and way more fitting in its environment – and will last longer. Promise you, your rose bowl would not live through the afternoon, but your curated bowl of pineapples, will definitely see you through the next days’ lunch – before it gets chomped up and becomes lunch.

India Hicks, British Colonial, tropical fruit


plants, inside, palms, india hicks

source: houseandhome

Embrace Natural Textures

Think baskets, woven grass carpets (perfect for dealing with sea sand) and cane furniture. Grasscloth-covered walls – just the best! Get the beach on your walls, without the hassle of dealing with the sand.

Its these elements, that truly brings this style to life for me. And the most obvious – readily available, cheap and practical. Ever tried getting sea sand off a persian carpet – I’m just saying…. grass cloth walls, british colonial

peacock chair, british colonial

source: Lonny 

How gorgeous are these grass baskets used as lampshades? Danish fashion designer, Marlene Birger’s beach house on St. Barth’s.

Marlene Birger, kitchen, grass, british colonial

source: flickr 

Cabinet of Curiosities

Set your inner Jacques Cousteau free – collect interesting found items – shells, driftwood, momentos – anything that tells your story. It not only creates interest, but makes the most beautiful ‘tablescapes’. Or try it as a wallpaper in a guest cloakroom. Anything flotsam and jetsam would work! And we all sometimes get stuck with the odd-no-talking-dinner-guest – at least you’ll have something to talk about – or pour yourself another Gin, if all else fails……

cabinet of curiosities collage, British Colonial

source: left: therovinghome, top right: pinterest, bottom right: moonandtrees

Take your Colour Queue from Nature

What shade of blue there is not to like? Don’t forget about the sorbet colours – love the coral pinks, and any, any shade of teal. Use it in unexpected places – soft coral on walls in a dining room, or a strong teal in a guest cloakroom. Always makes for a lovely surprise and contracts beautifully with all the white-on-white shades.

teal, dining room, british colonial

source: apartment theraphy

Coral pink walls, british colonial

source: the glam pad 

Plant your Flag

I just love any old flag, the more tattered, the better. Display it somewhere unexpected – in a nice frame in a bathroom, on a scatter pillow…… set your inner-colonist free – planting that flag lends character and charm and the more unexpected its place, the better. Union Jack, Colonial Style, flag

source: the dust jacket attic

Flag collage, british colonial, union jack

sources: left: pinterest, top right: lonny, bottom right: etsy

Nautical Elements 

Well you got there by boat after all? Bring some nautical elements inside – rope, ships window as a bathroom mirror, mounted antique telescopes, model boats – anything that says ship and sea.

nautical inspiration moodboard, british colonial style

sources: left pic: remodelista, top right: decor4all, bottom right: housebeautiful

Next post up: I’ll be taking you an a tour of a colonial that managed to tick all of these style boxes… bucket loads!

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patrick lichfield, gypset I stumbled upon this iconic pic of  Talitha & John Paul Getty Jnr., on a  Marrakech rooftop  in 1969, taken by the fabulous Patrick Lichfield, and realised she was probably the first ‘sophisticated hippy’ if you ever got such a thing.

My own style is probably more prep than hippy, although I can’t say I don’t absolutely love the whole bohemian vibe….. Kate Moss is my book probably the master at pulling it off, without looking like a complete tie-dye mess… As my friend always say –  ‘get the look but aim for Soho when pulling off Boho!’ – thanks Shahid….. And I think that is just the trick – to make it look effortless, without throwing in the fringes, frills, tie-dyes and sandals all in one go.

And apparently, the well-travelled, sophisticated-hippy-thing has been doing the rounds for some time now – I’ve clearly been living under a rock.

Gypset,  Travel, Bohemian, Fashion


Gypset (Gypsy+Jet set) is an emerging group of artists, musicians, fashion designers, surfers, and bon vivants– who lead semi-nomadic, unconventional…

Well, you had me at ‘semi-nomadic’ and that while looking fabulous – sounds like my kind of party.

Julia Chaplin, journalist and self-proclaimed Gypsetter, has published a book on Gypset living, Gypset Travel  and I tell you, I am reaching for my passport.

Gypset, Books, Nomadic

Source: Assouline

So, according to Julia, the Gypset is:

A new kind of luxury that fuses the sophistication and speed of the jet set with the wiliness of a gypsy. It’s flexible, spontaneous and ferrets out the untested and untried.

 The perfect gypset destination…

Should be two to three hours from an international airport and a little hard to get to. If something is geographically exclusive, it’s an initiation to get there. Also, there needs to be a local culture that’s intact.

Your packing essentials…

A pashmina (use it as a blanket or a sweater), a pair of Havaianas a bikini and good sunblock. All the places in my book are in warm, equatorial places, not because there aren’t gypsetters in snowy areas but because I don’t like the cold. It makes packing a lot easier, too.

Travel tip…

I never ask people about their work — or their last names, either. It’s nice to keep things abstract, be in the moment and explore the mind outside of the traditional world. Reinventions are possible.

Source: The Tory Blog

Gypset, Travel, Nomad

Gypset, Fashion, Marocco



And after more online snooping, I came across this woman that does that for a living!

Wow! She’s a ‘Gypset Lifestyle Guru’ (and here was me thinking calling myself a ‘blogger’ was cool).

Vienda’s  criteria for calling yourself a Gypsetter:

  • Every day is an adventure, no matter where you are or what you are doing.
  • You love fashion, music, art, writing, dancing, singing and all things beautiful.
  • You release your fears to the unknown, have no expectations for the future and carry yourself in the directions of your dreams, no matter what.
  • Attachment to material possessions is merely a superficial joy. You recognise that you are so much more than your belongings.
  • Family is not only those that you are related to by blood, but also those who you encounter and recognise a soul connection with.
  • Making an income has become part of your travels and lifestyle. You can make money anywhere you go.
  • You have a clear inventory of belongings you love and need. They all fit into a couple of bags. The rest is neatly packed away or has been given away a long time ago.
  • Your heart and soul sours every time you are in the place between places. You are free. You can love without possession.
  • It is about the journey, never about the destination.



Source: Tap Ruspoli via on Travelogue

So you don’t have to be related to a Rolling Stone to get your Gypset on, it seems it only takes a bit of guts and training yourself in packing light. I’m in, as long as James, the girls, the dogs & my Kitchen Aid can come along…..

Gypset, Travel, Nomad, K. Richards

Gypset, Travel, Nomad, K. Richards

Keith Richards & Clan doing what they do best – partying it up – Gypset style. This was for a Vogue shoot, at his North Caribbean island retreat on Parrot Bay.



Gypset, Travel, Olsen Twins


The Olsen Twins got the Gypset-vibe down – although most of their coming & going (I think) happens between Manhattan and the Hamptons.

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