One of Livingetc’s favourite stylists, Marianne Cotterill contributes to many of the world’s leading magazines, consults with brands such as Farrow & Ball and works as an interior designer for private clients. Here, she explains how to team modern style with vintage…
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTERESTED IN VINTAGE?
My mum and aunty used to run the church jumble sales where we lived in North Wales and I remember sitting on black bin bags watching with great excitement to see if they found a fur coat or a handbag with extraordinary jewellery inside. Later on, I helped out with the bric-a-brac and one day, when I was about nine, I had a stall that took more money than anyone else in the hall!
‘There are lots of markets I like to mooch around in – Braderie de Lille, Tongeren in Belgium, the big flea market in Bath and Ardingly Antiques & Collectors Fair.’
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT FINDING INTERESTING PIECES?
It’s like a hunt – why spend £18k on a sideboard when you can find one for £800? I look for things that make me smile. I love the one-off rather than the uniform – when things are replicated and reproduced, they lose their fascination and beauty for me.
HOW DOES VINTAGE WORK IN YOUR OWN HOME?
I like mixing vintage and contemporary in a way that’s bold and edgy rather than frilly and girlie. When someone walks into the room, I want it to look both inviting and intriguing, but also very welcoming. For example, in the kitchen, I’ve teamed a Fifties Italian lacquered sideboard with modern pots. Or I might upholster an old French boudoir chair with a clean geometric print or paint its legs a different colour. I’ve just tiled a bathroom with Made a Mano’s white and gold star tiles, which look modern, but luxe. These all make instant talking points in a contemporary/classic interior.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE VINTAGE FEELS MODERN RATHER THAN JUNK SHOP?
Always mix vintage with clean lines – it allows a curvy, sculptural vintage piece to take on a life of its own if the rest of the space feels restful. I also work in modern accessories with a mid-century feel, such as a sleek Fifties-style sofa or a floor light from Roche Bobois. As a backdrop, I like colour on walls rather than white. I have Farrow & Ball’s dusky Pink Ground in my bedroom and dark, chalky Railings in the living room, which really makes the paintings stand out. I always team something provocative next to something clean.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR WHEN HUNTING FOR VINTAGE?
Don’t buy just for the sake of it – you’ll end up purchasing things you don’t have an affinity with. Pick up items you can happily live with – they need to mean something to you. The key is in the mix – you can have four or five pieces that stand out, but don’t clutter a space. If there’s too much in a room, it becomes ugly and confusing. If you’re starting a collection – whether it’s paintings or vases – do it with patience! Take it slowly, collect as you go along and allow it to take on a life of its own.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I love travelling – I never go anywhere without a suitcase big enough to bring back stuff! I take lots of pictures too, which I look back on for ideas later – it might be a café door painted in an interesting colour or the way things are displayed in a shop. When I have time, I often head to Foyles in London early in the morning, grab a coffee and scour the amazing interiors books.
HOW DO YOU BRING OLD PIECES BACK TO LIFE?
I’ll paint anything that doesn’t move – if I’ve paid £5 for a simple bentwood chair, I’m not spending two days stripping it back. I might just paint a mad stripe or customise the base with fringing and bobbles around it. I never buy anything that’s falling apart, though – I don’t have time to fix it and I can’t stand anything that’s uncomfortable. I like something you can have a cuddle on.
WHAT ABOUT LIGHTING?
Lighting is so important – I try to have it at every level, from table and floor to wall and ceiling. And it has to be generous – oversized and maybe a bit tongue-in-cheek. I like lights that add drama and make a statement.
FINALLY, CAN YOU SUGGEST ANY QUIRKY TOUCHES?
I pick up lots of old portraits of people I don’t know – I like how they make you look twice. I often group paintings of flowers and portraits together, or hang a painting either quite low over a coffee table, above a picture rail or below the dado. It’s unexpected and a little mad, but it looks great!
To see more of Marianne’s work, visit mariannecotterill.com