Colefax and Fowler’s Brook Street showroom is to me what John Lewis was to John Betjeman. World war three could break out and nothing bad would happen to me in there. A sanctuary where I could ostrich my head into the ground , Liberty and Townhouse Spitalfields also come under this umbrella. Everybody needs a safe house list.
It’s the comfort blanket of the big eighties Colefax chintz patterns from my childhood. The romantic notion of owning a house in the country. You wonder through the labyrinth of rooms in the house, forgetting it’s a showroom.
There’s a lovely private walled garden where I want to sip a gin and tonics and listen to records. Then there’s the iconic yellow room, designed in 1959 by Nancy Lancaster. That’s the place I'd like someone to build me a roaring fire so I can curl up with a book on the sofa all afternoon. My favourite room is the little antechamber with botanical print lined walls, matching curtains and a display cabinet of creamware. I’d like to conduct all my correspondence from there. Really, I just want to live THERE.
The rumour that Colefax was going to be moving out of Brook Street started here on Ben Pentreath’s blog. Awful I thought, surely not!? You know when you start to hear a rumour more than once - it’s got legs. Jennifer Boles from The Peak of Chic asked me if it was true? Looking round Chelsea Harbour a few weeks ago for fabric swatches, I heard it was true.
Heartbroken as I am, I decided to pop in to 39 Brook St and dedicate this week’s post to its beauty. Before it turns into something wretched like an Abercrombie and Fitch!
Last Wednesday when I visited the weather was stickier than a fudge shop. It felt more like August than May. The silk curtains in the yellow room gently wafted in the breeze from the half opened sash windows. All the lamps were on at 4pm and the vases were brimming with flowers. Just as they would be in your own home.
I was looking for a small scale print to upholster my Parker Knoll chair with, but got distracted by these bespoke resin trays with fabric suspended inside. You can choose your own print and size. Or buy the ones in the shop. I could definitely handle one of the fabric covered luggage stands in my life. It would make tedious packing a joy.
In more recent years C&F has overhauled it’s aesthetic to look more contemporary - sometimes I do miss the old Colefax. Maintaining the roots of a brand’s DNA whilst moving with the times is a challenge. Which is why Brook St so perfectly showcases the evolution of a brand which for many is the definition of English country house style. It feels like my own real life ‘Pinterest’ board and tear sheet collection. A reference point to come back to……but not for much longer.
It’s not all woeful though. They are moving to the lovely Pimlico Road - which you could call ‘safety in numbers.’ As their moving date is unconfirmed, go whilst you can for one last hurrah!
I'm so excited about the launch of this new book by Imogen Taylor, John Fowler's trusted assistant. With great tales of aristo clients, royalty and just how they lined those walls in fabric. A must read!
This is a great book too if you want to read up on the legendary Nancy Lancaster.