What I Know About Style

Catherine Milner

Catherine Milner


Catherine Milner, founder of Catherine Milner Interiors, expands on her design philosophy, mood boards and wallpaper trends

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as essentially neo-classical. Classical principles never fail to give the space a timeless quality and are the perfect base from which to create elegant, intimate and highly defined interiors. My work is filled with historical references with splashes of contemporary brilliance; be that a powerful sculptural piece of furniture by an artisan, or an innovative use of the latest technology.

Are your mood boards and sketches something unique to you as a designer?

Mood boards and sketches are an integral part of the design process. They are also bespoke to each project and inspiration. My mood boards should inspire and delight clients and each are as unique as the individual for which they are intended.

Mood boards and sketches convey the design concept to the client and in that way they are very important. They are also a vital part of the creative process from which I can begin to turn ideas into a tangible reality; they become a storyboard from which the personal journey and ‘design template’ for every new client and project truly begins. It is very satisfying creatively when hand-drawn sketches correlate with a finished room.

What is your biggest inspiration?

My daughter is my greatest inspiration… she is certainly the most beautiful and perfect creation I have or ever could create!

However, history, literature and classical architecture are all very inspirational to me. An appreciation of the arts helps to elevate the mind and senses. It encourages me to aspire to create such beauty and harmony in my own work, a lasting expression of a timeless, beautiful and entirely intimate place of refuge and serenity for each client, reflecting their own personal ideals in life.

What are the most important things to consider when designing a space?

Classical finishes, excellent lighting and considered artwork and details — a room ought to be founded upon three key principles: function, strength and beauty.

Attention to detail is very important and the use of superb materials and textures. For example, shimmering mosaics can complete a room, such as ‘Silver Croc’ and ‘Kyoto’ by Mesguich Mosiak and fabrics such as the beautiful silk damasks Lullingstone ‘Gainsborough’ silk or Atlantic Blue ‘Leaf Stencil’ by Beacon Hill.

Any new trends we should keep our eye on?

Wallpaper is definitely back in vogue. Personally I love using de Gournay wallpaper and also Antoinette Poisson, based in Paris, who create beautiful patterned paper inspired by enchanting designs of the 18th century.

Another trend is geological patterns reminiscent of the 1930s — used to stunning effect in Arabescato marble and other beautiful and natural stone. It is all about getting away from the readily available and opting for the rare, timeless and beautiful objects, which have meaning and evoke an emotional response in their owner and retain their value.

What has been your favourite project so far?

There is no favourite project per se because all have been such a unique, creative and development process. My passion is revived with each new project and set of client objectives!

However, I love the stage of a project when it is time to collaborate with highly skilled artisans and artists to create exquisitely beautiful bespoke works. It is a pleasure to commission sleek and sculptural contemporary furniture by the most sought-after designers of our time, all of whom have the same passion and a keen sense of aiming to produce the truly exceptional.

Is there a particular building or property you would love to renovate?

I would love to have the opportunity to work with English Heritage and bring back to life a beautiful Palladian country house, to keep the architectural integrity, but to update the interiors to show that juxtaposing sculptural contemporary pieces can work beautifully and very harmoniously together. Both historical and contemporary designs do possess the ‘ideal qualities’ that a designer looks for.

I did undertake a similar design concept for a Palladian country house that can be seen on my website portfolio (password on request) and it was a pleasure to work on.

Favourite room of the house?

The bathroom. I endeavor to create the most tranquil atmosphere possible using beautiful marble and mosaics, which shimmer softly and allow the client to completely relax. I often take my design theme from the ancient Roman baths found in the imperial villas; they are both fascinating and designed for utter opulence and luxury.

What are your favourite brands?

Bisazza Mosiacs and Pierre Mesquith Mosaics, as well as highly skilled and innovative contemporary designers such as Herve Van de Straeten — inspiring, sculptural contemporary furniture designs and contemporary lighting designs, which I have used on projects to great effect.

I am also inspired by the designs of Patrick Nager, Valdimir Kagen and the Dutch designer Joris Laarman. In glass design I love Abigail Simpson’s work and the work of Abby Modell, whose new mirror collection is inspired by the natural beauty of the earth’s rock crystals as imagined in the celestial night sky.

Three items you couldn’t live without?

All my beautiful books! Reading is one of my greatest pleasures.

A sculpture of me by Jonathan Wylder. It intrigues me that when I am long gone this bronze will survive and its new owner will wonder ‘who was that girl?’

And a small Venetian painting by Fedrica Ravizza of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowering plants.

www.catherinemilnerinteriors.com; 07771 647 975

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