Colette van den Thillart of NH Design spills her decorating secrets


Want to know how the experts create their stunning interiors for the likes of Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr and Rod Stewart? Painting the inside of your lampshade pink is one clever trick as Colette van den Thillart, Creative Director at Nicky Haslam’s NH Design explains here. She's giving a talk at Decorex 2010 this Sunday and to give ACHICA Living readers an EXCLUSIVE sneak preview she shares her TOP 10 DESIGN TIPS below.


With a client list that ranges from royalty to rock stars including the legends name-checked above, NH Design is famous for creating spaces that are comfortable yet glamorous, luxurious yet liveable. But how does the team do it? How does one draw inspiration from everyday surroundings and turn it into an eye-catching space?

During her talk, Colette will explain the creative process, zone in on how concepts are shaped and share practical examples where an idea has led to a stunning outcome. What you'll find is that it's all about seeing what's around you in a new way. In this frank discussion she'll share how the team at NH Design visualise and develop their ideas and how you too can learn to establish your own creative patterns, drawing inspiration from the mundane to the magical. Be sure to pop by Decorex International 2010 on Sunday and say hi if you see her!


1.     Be fearless and confident…have a point of view and don’t be afraid to stray from what everyone else is doing. As Diana Vreeland always said ‘If you have an idea, you’re well ahead.’ Create a ‘look book’ with things you like and when it comes to making decisions about your style, just go for it.

2.    Lighting truly makes a room, although I avoid recessed ceiling lights as much as possible. Consider beautiful chandeliers or lampshades that match other aspects of your room so your lighting can further enhance the concept you're creating.

3.    Don’t underestimate the allure of silver…think Nymphenburg Palace like Nicky Haslam did for the entrance hall/dining room of his previous flat…or even tin foil like Andy Warhol. The light that gets reflected off a silver wall is truly special.

4.    Create multi purpose rooms.  In vertical houses, library/dining rooms are wonderful. On the other hand if you're blessed with more lateral space entrance hall/dining rooms can be charming. Don’t be afraid to mix the purpose of a room with that of a completely different space – you’ll be surprised at what you may find works for your lifestyle.

5.    Don't buy suites of furniture; it's cheaper and prettier to collect your pieces separately and the bonus is that each piece will have a story connected to it. I love trawling fleamarkets and have even found great pieces on the high street. It’s about finding things that go together, no matter their age or purpose.


6.    Keep light switches and other necessary wall receptacles low and out of eyesight. Ideally you can hide them behind something, but if not, make sure they are the same colour as the paint or wallpaper so that they can mix in seamlessly with the surface where they’re mounted.

7.    Paint the inside of your lampshades pink….you won’t believe how wonderful YOU will look!



8.    As Nancy Lancaster always said…the way to work with pattern is to just add more…and more. Be bold and refer back to Rule number 1.

9.    Make a plan and stick with it.  Start with a furniture plan, which will focus your purchases and determine the scale of what you actually need. Don’t get sidetracked by special deals on things you don’t really need. Always refer back to your floorplan and decide whether something new could potentially replace something else. If it can’t, it’s better to not buy it.

10. Don't forget plan down to every last detail. I personally loathe loo roll holders.  I think a basket looks so much nicer.


Images courtesy of Nicky Haslam's NH Design.

For beautiful furniture, accessories and daily design ideas for your home and lifestyle,
shop at ACHICA.

Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor