Belinda Corani, founder of Home Conscious, has become known as the UK’s very own home emergency service. Corani initially started out as a stylist, sorting through her clients’ wardrobes and getting rid of what they didn’t need. Soon her organisational streak took hold and she moved on to sorting out their bedrooms, and subsequently their whole homes. We had a chat to Corani about the service Home Conscious offers its clients, and three key home interior themes – wallpaper, a return to elegance, and film set style – she’s seeing more and more of her clients embracing.
How did you get into home interiors?
I started off styling to begin with, chucking out people’s clothes in their wardrobes and that graduated to not only advising about what they were doing with their wardrobes but also their bedrooms. Then that became their home. I’m quite an organiser. I found it relatively easy to do. I still do a bit of styling, but I started Home Conscious about four years ago, and most of the time I’m doing interiors.
I deal with a lot of families who have big homes and want lots of different bits and bobs done. The nature of my business is not just straightforward interiors, it deals with home maintenance, it deals with the outside as well as the inside, and it’s ongoing so I tend to keep my clients for many years. They tend to come back to me when they are going on holiday, and they want new wallpaper in one room, and the garden tidied up. They hand their keys to me and they go off into the sunset. Someone once called me the home emergency service. I even help with the removal side of things. You often start on one thing and end up doing the whole house. They think they can get away with doing a little bit but then they realise you can’t. It’s like buying a new pair of shoes. Your outfit will still look dated if you only wear a new pair of shoes.
And now you’re raving about wallpaper, why?
Traditionally there had been a great fondness for feature walls. Whether it paint or paper, though mostly paper. But back in the day, wallpaper was for all four walls and that looked good. The Victorians and the Edwardians were fond of papering over everything, even pipes. It’s quite funny to see it now. Then people went away from that. People went to the contemporary look which I call art spaces – white walls, black flooring, very minimal. This was OK but people didn’t realise wallpapers add colour and texture, they add pattern. Now people want to be different. They are being braver which is great. People are going for different wallpaper designs, for more natural stuff, twig-like and florals. Some are being more modern with geometric prints, hexagonal or square, that’s quite popular. They are literally papering everywhere. The statement is no longer the furniture. The furniture has become minimal. I love wallpaper. I think it’ll grow and grow. Some people will always want to do feature walls. Some people think wallpaper is enclosing. Walls are one of those things what you think you should do you should actually do the opposite. If you have a small room, people think you have to make it light and bright to maximise the space but it doesn’t work like that, it just makes it look bare. You should be using medium to dark colours. The fear is that they’ll be enveloped by wallpaper but they won’t, it’s broken up with rugs, pictures, furniture.
How do you define today’s return to elegance?
This is quite a welcome one to me. Over the last few years people have been looking for the unusual, the funky. Everyone wanted to stand out. People are now looking for something quirky and finding a lot of stuff on the high street in places like Dwell, with minimal, clean lines, though not necessarily well-built. People are moving away from that. People like it but don’t necessarily want to live with it. They are returning to classics, the neutrals. Very [British interior designer] Kelly Hoppen to a degree. They are adding stuff, whether it’s glass lamps, huge ceramic pots with flowers, and very elegant rugs which I haven’t seen people choose in a long time. They are going for Roman blinds rather than roller, or floor-length curtains, rather than Venetian blinds. It’s a return of colour. It’s elegant. They are looking for a proper home. It comes back to people staying in more. Outside everything is cooler, minimal, but when it comes to their home they want the classic look. Lots of layering up of texture, which is the right way to do it. It’s a total move away from the minimal side of things. It’s grown up.
What elaborate requests are clients making right now?
I feel like I’m designing a film sets sometimes. There are some really recognisable things that are out there at the moment. Whether it’s the 1930s Art Deco movement which is strong in fashion and will going forward be in homes more so. You’ve also got those who like the colonial style, like The Hamptons, so they want shutters and stripes. Others want the darkness so they have lots of black and red, lots of velvet and drapes. It’s a move away from the want a place to look fresh and light. It really is more to do with people saying I want to base it on this type of a look, this is my theme, I’m going this way with it, rather than just making it functional and practical. In some ways it’s my job to make it look practical so it doesn’t alienate them or their family, but they are definitely theming their rooms. It’s quite directional. I was asked to do one home in the style of Gone with the Win and I was quite shocked. They didn’t want the classic English look. There are crossovers but it’s a much more frilly and glossy with satins. Colours are very peachy and creams, almost quite sickly for some people. And they wanted a chandelier. Whereas The Hamptons look which is far more, Jackie O, with people out sailing, very Ralph Lauren as a fashion influence. It’s a relaxed money style. It’s not just a pair of blinds which are in navy blue pin stripe. They are going for the chequered materials on the armchairs, lots of wicker, lots of light and wooden accessories. It’s very typical that look. The other thing which is even more funny is the 1930s stuff. I haven’t seen the 1940s hit yet, I am sure it’ll come back quite soon. It’s cyclical like fashion.
To find out more about Belinda Corani’s Home Conscious service visit the Home Conscious website.