House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

Nicky Haslam

Decorex is over, but the designer’s celebrations are just beginning

Nicky Haslam

October 01 2011
Nicky Haslam

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

We’re all rather tired after the dismantling of our entrance hall at Decorex; we spend the morning repatriating stock items to their rightful place and attempting to manoeuvre between the mountains of boxes and bubble wrap that is the detritus of such an elaborate entrance. When some space is cleared, we have a quick meeting to discuss our presence at last week’s Yacht Show in Monaco. Afterwards, I finally manage to sit at my desk and get to my computer and concentrate on the ever enlarging inbox.

I would very much have liked to have been able to go up to Yorkshire for the memorial service of Lord Harewood, always a hero of mine not only for his musical brilliance and his opera-directorial prowess, but his innate modesty about being part of the royal family (his mother was Princess Royal, sister of King George VI), his enchanting wife Patricia, and their amazingly beautiful house with the most wonderful pelmets of painted, carved and gilded wood designed to look like elaborately draped material by Robert Adam, the architect of Harewood. Lord Harewood was one of those links with the past that I always find fascinating.

At 5pm I rush home to have my hair cut short as I’m dining with a lot of military men, at the Knightsbridge barracks with the Household Cavalry. I don’t want to be ticked off by regimental Brigadier Parker-Bowles for looking shabby. The evening is to raise much-needed and deserved funds for the Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy; the organisation works so hard in working with special-needs students to develop confidence and skills through riding.

We all gathered in the barrack yard just as the huge red sun slipped behind the Albert Memorial and the mounted regiment gave a display of their finesse and elegance on their chargers. One of the Guardsmen, Archie Horne, is the son of my nearest neighbours in the country, and recounted his memories of riding close behind the bride’s carriage in the procession for the royal wedding. My host, Lord Patrick Beresford, had a table with some of his brigade friends and their wives. I was especially touched that on the same table he put my cousin Miranda Ponsonby, who was a guards officer many years ago and always supremely elegant in his breeches and thigh boots. I walked home in the warm Indian-summer night, down the newly paved Exhibition Road. I’m sure this new layout makes sense to the town planners, but it doesn’t to me.

Friday I was to be photographed for one of my favourite American publications, a magazine called Traditional Home which often features our designs and projects. They wanted Colette and me to show them our secret places for shopping in London. Not necessarily decorative or antique shops, but more unusual but regular haunts, from Tosca, the genius alterer at First Tailored on Lower Sloane Street, to our gilder and furniture restorer Rupert Bevan in Fulham.

It will be early to bed tonight to be ready for Bob and Pixie Geldolf’s 60th and 21st birthday party on Saturday night. I’ll be staying nearby at Jools and Cristabel Holland’s ancient castle, but if it’s as hot as is predicted I won’t be able to wear the elaborate costume I had intended for the theme – Po’ White Trash. Luckily clever Cristabel has laid hands on a mass of chain-gang prisoner uniforms, so I may be able to muscle in on one of those.

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