Earliest design memories
The living room of this Malibu beach house that Kathryn Ireland designed for friends proves her penchant for layering bold colours, patterns and textures. SAH: In what ways is your personality reflected in your designs? KI: My designs are bright, uplifting, irreverent and slightly witty. “Serious” is a word I avoid both in decorating and in life – I like whimsical, unexpected things. SAH: What’s one of your earliest design memories? KI: I used to read all of my mother’s house and garden magazines, and when I was about seven or eight, I told her I wanted my bedroom to be apple green, which was very hip in those days. So we remodelled my room based on things I’d seen in magazines – a canopy, a walk-in closet. We must have been the first people in England to have a walk-in closet. SAH: Was it a good look? KI: Yeah, totally. But in those days I didn’t think this is what I’d end up doing.
The armchairs in kathryn’s living room were upholstered in a custom-embroidered sultan’s robe from her close pal Martyn Lawrence Bullard. SAH: Looking back, does your career path make sense? KI: Some of it does. I was big into needlework. I won the sewing prize for my patchwork quilt when I was seven. I was very hands-on about making things, and I liked decorating – I just instinctively knew where things should go. SAH: How does your English heritage influence your aesthetic? KI: I always go back to my European upbringing. I spent lots of time in London, the Scottish countryside and Vicenza, Italy, and so I was fortunate to live and stay in amazing historical and architectural houses. It rubbed off on me. SAH: And how has that changed since moving to California? KI: I’m a lot more laid-back. My traditional English upbringing was thrown into bohemian Malibu beach life. It’s a good mix, a very livable look.
Kathryn had her sculptural cast-iron claw- foot tub painted pink. SAH: What other places inspire you? KI: Morocco, Egypt, Scotland, the French country- side...I’m here in Toronto on a beautiful day, looking at the buildings, and it’s such a great vibrant city. I’m inspired wherever I am – unless I’m held up in an airport somewhere. SAH: What would we be most surprised to find in your home? KI: Maybe my collection of black and white photos of sports personalities from the ’20s to today. I started it for my three boys – they love sports. SAH: How else did you adapt your decor to accommodate three boisterous sons? KI: It’s my state of mind: Everything is unprecious. Things are going to get broken; things are going to be spilled. Who cares? It’s part of the tapestry of life. Life is to be lived, not to be put on a pedestal.