Hello everyone! How are you doing? I’ve been busy this week – I’m learning how to crochet and knit and so far, I’m quite bad at crochet so I’ve been practicing a lot! I’ve also been busy with my film theory and video making class (2 classes this week) and working on some side projects for my upcoming trip to London. I’ve missed you so much that today I thought I’d make up for my brief absence and continue with my series of personal snapshots highlighting the homes of the lovely people found in my latest book, Decorate Workshop.
Today I’m chatting with Sania Pell (her cute feet are shown above!), an interior stylist (and blogger) who works mainly on photo shoots for magazines such as Elle Decoration UK and for commercial companies like Cox & Cox and Waitrose. Sania is also the author of two beautiful craft books (I own both and love them!) and yet with all of her professional accomplishments she still finds time to blog her beautiful craft projects and other inspirations. Sania is a mother of two and lives in West London with her husband, graphic designer and creative director Mark Wilson from MWA Design, in a very sweet terraced house built around 1900. Today, Miss Sania will share some snapshots of her home along with other favorite things. Would you like to listen in on our chat?
Hi! Let’s jump right in shall we and talk first about London! What is your favorite thing about living there?
Sania: There is so much to do and see, inspiration is all around you and you feel you are in the middle of it all. There is always an exhibition to visit, a new shop to see or restaurant to try. There are also many fantastic open green spaces in London – parks, the river, Kew gardens – that means you can step out of the urban landscape whenever you need to.
What are 5 of your favorite shops in London?
Sania: Liberty (a favourite since I was a school girl!), Mint (interiors), Tracey Neuls (shoes), Ally Capellino (handbags), VV Rouleaux (Ribbons and haberdashery).
Speaking of Liberty, I spot a candle that I have in my home from Liberty that you also have…
Sania: I love the industrial quality of the Le Labo candle against the softness of the ceramics. In my home I have areas of interest and then areas of calm. The mantlepiece above the fire in my living room is an area where I gather and collect groupings of things I love. This photo shows a collection of handmade ceramics and a vintage glass bottle I have collected over the years at craft fairs, shows and antique shops. I made the little wired button garland that hangs around one and in the reflection is a lampshade I embellished with hanging, spray-painted keys. The orchids add a welcome splash of colour and the dried hydrangea lends a beautiful soft colour.
What is your passion and what inspires you?
Sania: I suppose my passion is just being visually creative, in all its forms whether styling, making, painting… I love taking photographs to document the things I see all around me. As a creative, visiting new places – whether it is a foreign city or an undiscovered little shop close to home –is always inspiring.
You are also passionate about detail. Can you tell us about the objects above?
Sania: Yes, this is on top of a large, old haberdashery unit we use in the kitchen corner to store the children’s toys and art materials. I love the pages of old books, how they vary in colour and texture. They also add height to a display. The jar to the left was given to me by a friend, the idea behind it is to place good things scribbled on scraps of paper, folded and placed into the jar to open and read out at the end of the year. It was a slow start to the year, but we now have quite a few folded good things in the jar. The little fluorescent flower display was painted and shot for my blog as an idea. The doll was a project I made for my latest book and she was the angel on top of our christmas tree and has remained out on display. I have recently started painting again and this is one of my paintings. Succulents are one of my favourite plants and the helebores are picked from the garden and are one of my favourite flowers, especially at this time of year when there is very little else flowering in my garden. I also use them in my window boxes with succulents.
Can you show us where a majority of your books are stored in your home? I ask because this is one of my favorite spots in your house!
Sania: This is the main bookshelf in my living room (shown below) and I recently shuffled furniture around to create a reading nook. The bookshelves originally held more ornaments than they do now, ornaments being replaced by books as we acquire more and more books, They’ve now become an ever-changing part of the room’s decoration – loosely organised by the colour of their spines. The 1960’s Eames chair was bought at a flea market in New York about 15 years ago, we saw it loved it and bought it. For the journey home to London, we removed the legs and swathed it all in bubble wrap like a giant padded ball. It rolled out of the luggage carousel and bounced straight across the floor, luckily undamaged! I found the lamp at my local car boot sale (flea market) for just a few pounds. I wasn’t entirely sure if I liked it or not, but as it was not expensive so worth the risk. As soon as I put it in a corner of my home with a new lime green silk shade on top, I loved it.
What do you love about interiors books in general?
Sania: I love the fact that by collecting them they become part of your own interior. Looking through them you see new ideas every time and they have a longevity that magazines and blogs don’t have.
Let’s talk a bit more about books. Can you give us a mini review of Decorate Workshop?
Sania: It is a treasury packed full of exciting visual reference to inspire anyone who needs a point in the right direction. It is also practical with guidance and advice to help the reader through every step of a decorating project. I also liked getting an insight into your home too! I love that the little gifts I’ve made for you over the years pop up in a few of the photos in your home, it is lovely to see them in situ!
What is one of your favorite photos of your home that Debi took and what stood out about Debi Treloar and I working in your home?
Sania: My favourites photos are of my children’s bedrooms on the left hand side of page 133. As I’ve known you for a few years now, and I also knew Debi through work in London, it is more like friends taking photos of your house than ‘work’. It was a very relaxed shoot, friendly and chatty, whist still concentrating on the job. It was fun!
Tell us about your favorite blogs and magazines…
Sania: I’ve always loved magazines. I get Elle Decoration, World of Interiors and Vogue on subscription and usually buy lots of others each month, especially more niche, trend titles like Bloom which is another favourite. Blogs offer spontaneity, where ideas can be posted almost immediately (unlike magazines where you can be working several months ahead and books a year or more). Some of my favourites are food and fashion blogs, such as Roost, What Katie Ate and The Sartorialist.
Are their specific qualities about blogs, magazines and books that seem to stand out for you the most?
Sania: I like the fact that glossy magazines are aspirational, they push boundaries and show items that would not be seen often in everyday life. I like personal blogs where you feel like you’re really hearing from that person, whether it’s through their words or images. I also look at more editorial blogs as they are useful for industry news on a daily basis. Books can be reference tools as well as treasured possessions, there on your bookshelf forever.
Before we wrap up, can you show us some more corners of your home that you love and tell us a little about each?
Sania: Of course! This is the view I wake up to in my bedroom (below). The drawer unit was bought at an antique shop and was once used for storing greetings cards in a shop. The lamp was a project I made for a story I shot 10 years ago and behind it is another of my recent paintings. The collection of ceramics has built up over the years, birthday gifts and purchases at art and craft fairs.
And what about this pretty shelf below?
Sania: This is another section of my bedroom shelf… The print is by one of my favourite artists Craigie Aitchison, and one of my most treasured possessions.
Can you share some detailed shots from your work room that make your heart happy?
Sania: Of course. The next four images are of shelves in my studio. I enjoy being surrounded by little pieces of inspiration I find it helps having a few props on display, reminders to use them rather than tidied up in cupboards. There are also books and folders on my shelves too. The bottles with paper tied around them are ones that I made as a project in my first book. The vintage box (with bird illustration) belonged to my grandmother, as did the little floral pot. My grandmother was a hoarder and thanks to her I have the most wonderful collection of interesting bits and bobs. The hair clip was my mother’s. The patterned boxes serve as storage for small beads and made items.
I love those shelves in your craft corner, I couldn’t stop touching everything when I was there last. Can you show us more?
Sania: Yes! I just adore the faded colours of these vintage threads and the button board in the background is a personal favourite that I could not resist and bought at a vintage fashion fair in London.
I’m curious – who is in the photo tacked to the wall below?
Sania: It is of my mum when she was little and the thimbles are from my grandmother, the rest I have collected over the years.
Okay… One final snapshot from your home. Tell us about these boxes in your craft room, please! So pretty!
Sania: These old tin boxes are fantastic storage vessels. I can’t always remember what I have squirelled away in them though, so it’s always a pleasant surprise opening them and rediscovering the contents.
It was such a pleasure chatting with you today Sania! Readers – if you have any questions for Sania, please ask her in the comments section below. Thank you!
(images: sania pell)