Last year House & Garden did a shoot for their top 100 issue. It featured a double spread with the title 'The Greats', and sat below the title was a lineup of knee-knocking talent. I feel very proud (slightly embarrassed) to have one of those 'Greats', Wendy Nicholls, take part in Tete a Tat. Wendy joined Colefax and Fowler in 1976. As she recalls it: 'I remember studying a deep cornice, painted in Victorian bands of colour, in a house that had not been touched since 1840, and thinking, "I'm out of my depth here. I need to learn more". That's when I knew I had to work at Colefax'. Wendy had the right idea; Colefax and Fowler is one of England's oldest and most highly regarded design practices. It was started in the 1930s by Lady Colefax who, after the Wall Street Crash in 1929, had lost much of her fortune. Being the resourceful & creative woman she was, she set her mind to a profession in decorating. Armed with her black book of contacts filled with names of royals and movie stars, and her ability to create comfortable, stylish, unpretentious rooms, she was constantly busy. The British Diplomat Harold Nicholson describes 'Lunch with Sibyl Colefax at Boulestin. She tells me that she has made £2,000 last year by her own efforts. She gets up by candle light and fusses till midnight. A brave woman'. In the late 1930s, with her ever-expanding list of projects, she brought on bright young interior designer John Fowler and in 1939, Colefax and Fowler, the juggernaut of interior design, was born. To this day, Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler's reputation still holds. Wendy is one of the eight current designers working there. Each of them has a distinct personal style, managing their team and specific projects. In 2017 they opened up their new showroom on the Pimlico Road, which has truly cemented the Pimlico Road as the design hotspot of London. Even if you cannot afford the talents of the designers at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, you are at least able to pop in and imbibe their exquisite aesthetic. Anyway, as you might tell, I am chuffed to bits that Wendy agreed to answer these questions. I was even happier when I read her replies. I do hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Favourite piece of furniture?
A black Italian cartonnier on stand. It’s been part of my life since my first flat and gives character to any room it inhabits
Love in a Cold Climate – Escapism and laughter.
Best Moment in your career so far?
Finishing a big house in the Caribbean against the time odds (new build accepted in June finished in January). The client arriving that night and sending a message the following morning saying that he’d woken up there and thought he’d died and gone to heaven.
Who Is the best animal you have ever met?
A Lucas terrier belonging to friends and with whom I formed a mighty bond
Great film suggestion?
Cinema Paradiso – enchantment throughout.
Favourite Day Of The Week?
Thursday because it’s nearly the weekend!
What is the worst job you’ve done?
Selling scarves in a London department store in the sale during my art school holidays – some of the staff had been on the counter for over 20 years - conversation limited – there was almost nothing to do except watch the shoplifting which was happening all around – you had to mess up the scarves and then re-fold them in order to look busy – long hours and terminal boredom
Favourite Restaurant in the world?
Wiltons – civilisation with many happy memories
Bella di Notte
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An interior decorator – of course!
What would your autobiography be called?
‘Harpies and Queens’.
A song that can always make your foot tap?
This dates me – Paint it Black – The Rolling Stones