Interiors: the Parisian home of Joy de Rohan Chabot

Being dyslexic, de Rohan Chabot found solace in drawing from an early age and has never stopped making art. And what a spectrum of disciplines in the decorative and fine arts she embraces: painting, sculpting, casting, metalwork, lacquering and gilding. Her practical streak is in evidence throughout the house: she has covered walls and doors in extravagantly patterned fabric; reupholstered beds and furniture; painted butterflies on the outside walls; and even sculpted the front gate in steel and bronze, surmounted by one of her signature owls. Then there is her furniture – fabulous baroque creations that she sculpts from wax and casts in bronze before adding the final decorative layer of painting, gilding and lacquering.

While de Rohan Chabot has built up a considerable reputation in France over the years – she holds an annual exhibition at Galerie Matignon off the Champs-Elysées and the fashion designer Valentino is said to be a collector of her work – her whimsical furniture, tableware and clocks are little known on this side of the Channel. This may change with an exhibition in London at the beginning of next year. Simply titled ‘Joy’, it will be held at the Brompton Cross branch of the clothing store Joseph, which has teamed up with Sophie Tremlett’s design company VIP Corner to create a series of three-month artist-designer shows.

Whether in Paris or the countryside, de Rohan Chabot is always busy. She is as passionate now about her art as when she was a young girl drawing portraits of her dolls. The biggest compliment anyone has ever paid her is that she creates an entire universe in her work. ‘I think this mix of painting, sculpting and patina is unique to me. I like working across many disciplines because I love working with new techniques. Once I know how to make something, I get bored because then I am only using the hands – and not the brain.’

A selection of de Rohan Chabot’s work is sold through Belgrave Place (belgraveplace.com)

The Salon

PHOTO: Frédéric Vasseur

The L-shaped salon (main picture and above) connects the drawing room to an adjacent smaller sitting room. Joy de Rohan Chabot covered the walls in fabric herself, with ribbon braid concealing the tacks. The fabric is based on an 18th-century print. She recently refreshed the room simply by taking this down, washing it and rehanging it. The carpet is by Madeleine Castaing. The furniture, objects and paintings are a mix of inherited family pieces and the many auction buys in which de Rohan Chabot’s husband, Jean, likes to indulge. The button-back sofa and chairs were bought from the French decorator Hubert de Vinols.

The table in the doorway is an antique – the first piece of furniture that she and Jean bought together, and an inspiration for her future work. Over the fireplace in the sitting room is a portrait of de Rohan Chabot as a young woman, while to the left of this is a portrait of one of her illustrious ancestors, the Duc de Choiseul, who was one of Marie Antoinette’s most trusted ministers.

Above is another view of the salon, with a console table by de Rohan Chabot that has proved to be one of her most popular designs. Each one is unique, with varied configurations of branches, birds, butterflies and so on. On the wall is a portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud. On each side of this are examples of the green ceramic leaves from the 19th century that de Rohan Chabot likes to collect.

The Studio

PHOTO: Frédéric Vasseur

De Rohan Chabot converted the basement garage into the spacious studio, where mature trees and other plants thrive under glass. Shown here is one of her gold-painted bronze chairs, Grande Fleur Pensée, and various works in progress.

The Dining Room

PHOTO: Frédéric Vasseur

The de Rohan Chabots extended the house into a small courtyard next to the kitchen in order to add this charming dining room. The glass panels in the floor allow light into her studio below. Above is a terrace garden that is reached via the guest bedroom. The dining table was designed by de Rohan Chabot. The portrait is of her half-Scottish maternal grandmother, May Balfour, who designed jewellery for Chanel among others.

The Master Bedroom

PHOTO: Frédéric Vasseur

The master bedroom adjoins the L-shaped salon, designed by de Rohan Chabot as if it were a hotel suite. When parties are held, she simply tucks the bed out of sight in a cupboard. Above the bed is a photograph of Château de Haroué, where she held an exhibition earlier this year. The trompe l’oeil ‘cushioned’ bedhead was painted by de Rohan Chabot, who also covered the walls in this butterfly-print fabric from Marché St-Pierre in Paris.

The Bathroom

PHOTO: Frédéric Vasseur

An antique double basin takes centre-stage in the master bathroom, which is decorated with several of the handsome Venetian mirrors that de Rohan Chabot collects. She bought a job lot of faux tiger-skin rugs from China, using some here and taking some to the country chateau.

joyderohanchabot.com

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Design notebook: customisable storage from Ikea

This exuberant floral wallpaper, on which blooms of different sizes mix with berries and climbing fShopping: a bounty of bread bins by David Nicholls oliage, is the star of Sandberg’s new Brunnsnäs collection. There are 11 patterns, all inspired by the 19th-century mansions that line the shores of Lake Åsunden, near the Swedish company’s headquarters in Ulricehamn, east of Gothenburg. It costs £84 per 10m roll (0800-731 9622; sandbergab.se/en).

The frame of Ikea’s new PS wardrobe is a blank canvas waiting for you to decorate in your own style, using coloured plastic tiles that click into place. It fits in with the current trend for ‘customisable’ design, allowing people to put their own creative stamp on their interior spaces. The wardrobe (from £100) is supplied with 160 plastic pieces in black, red, yellow, orange and green (ikea.com).

Past glories

The Young Masters Art Prize was set up in 2009 ‘to celebrate artists who pay homage to the skill and traditions of the past’. This year sees the launch of a separate award for ceramicists, for which 15 artists have been shortlisted. The collector Maylis Grand is providing the £1,500 prize, the winner of which will be announced on October 30. Shown here is Goldilocks by Claire Partington, which is based on the 17th-century Diego Velázquez paintings of Mariana of Austria. Two exhibitions of the shortlisted artists are on show at two locations in London until the end of the month. Visit youngmastersartprize.wordpress.com for more details.

The best bread bins


This powder blue one with a wooden lid is by Nigella Lawson, £73, Unique & Unity

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The 50 best interiors shops


Bert & May
We adore this new tile shop, which runs the gamut from reclaimed Victorian to a modern twist on Moroccan encaustic tiles. There’s a good eye at work in this east London space, with no dud designs among the stacks of tiles, and if you can’t find an old design you like, they can distress brand-new tiles for you. 67 Vyner Street, London E2 bertandmay.com


BHS Furniture
Our prize for best high-street lighting goes to BHS, for its range of incredibly cheap interpretations of design classics. The furniture’s good-looking too, with some smart sideboards and dining-tables. Check out the Oslo and Honley ranges. bhsfurniture.co.uk


Blodwen’s General Stores
There’s no smarter way to stay warm in the winter months than under a traditional Welsh blanket. The bold, geometric patterns might look modern, but they’re based on designs woven in the valleys since the 18th century.blodwen.com


British Standard
The simple lines and solid craftsmanship of a Plain English kitchen are what those in the know hanker after, but they don’t come cheap. That’s where its sister company, British Standard, comes in. Simple instructions walk you through how to measure up, design, order, collect and fit its “no-frills” wooden cupboards and worktops. 41 Hoxton Square, London N1 britishstandardcupboards.co.uk


Caravane
Ready-made curtains sound like a disaster, but Caravane’s are both understated and chic. As you might expect from the London outpost of a hit Parisian store. 38-40 New Cavendish Street, London W1 caravane.fr


Cath Kidston
The megalith of kitsch homeware needs no introduction. Some might argue that it’s ubiquitous, and there’s no doubt Cath K has conquered the world. We say there’s nothing wrong with that when the bright oilcloths pack a punch. Branches nationwide, and a factory shop at 1A Alpha Drive, Eaton Socon, Cambridgeshire cathkidston.com

Christopher Farr
You’ll keep a rug with you forever, however many times you move, so it’s a good investment. Christopher Farr’s collection with Gary Hume is the closest most of us will come to owning a piece of YBA art. 6 Burnsall Street, London SW3 christopherfarr.com

The Cloth Shop
The new collection of washed linens in 10 spot-on, low-key colours is reason enough to visit this temple to cloth. Cotton prints, wools, muslins and, crucially, double-width fabrics for curtains can be found here, as well as a selection of blankets and pots. 290 Portobello Road, London W10 theclothshop.net

Cole & Son
Paint dominates over wallpaper these days, but for a small space, such as an understairs loo, something bold and colourful from Cole is a realistic option. Try Macchine Volanti, a riot of hot-air balloons from its Fornasetti collection, or Vivienne Westwood’s Squiggle. Unit 10G, Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, London SW10 cole-and-son.com

The Conran Shop
Conran’s position in postwar design can’t be overestimated. Where others might have run out of steam after so long, it powers on under Sir Terence’s son Jasper, who has injected new life into the stores since taking charge in 2012. It’s still the place to go for modern furniture but it’s the kitchenware we lust after. 81 Fulham Road, London SW3, and 55 Marylebone High Street, London W1 conranshop.co.uk

David Village Lighting
Sheffield shoppers are spoiled for choice at this showroom of ultra-modern lighting, including Foscarini and Artemide. It also offers a full home-lighting design service. 180 West Street, Sheffield davidvillagelighting.co.uk

Dorton Reclaim
Rock-bottom prices for salvage – before it gets cleaned up for the urban market – lure intrepid shoppers to this reclamation yard. Subscribers to its mailing list receive notice of the best finds before they’ve even been removed from demolition sites. Station Goods Yard, Station Road, Burgess Hill, West Sussex dortonreclaim.com

Fired Earth Factory Shop
Sort your bathroom and kitchen in one fell swoop at this factory shop. Lavatories, basins, baths, taps and tiles are stylish and well made rather than revolutionary. Modish metro tiles abound. Twyford Mill, Oxford Road, Adderbury, Oxfordshire firedearth.com

Garden Trading
Don’t let the name fool you into thinking that this online shop caters only for outdoors. As well as smart garden furniture and tools, there are simple items for stylish indoor organisation in natural colours and materials. Think wooden drying racks and powder-coated steel storage bins for every conceivable domestic need. Warehouse sales take place three times a year. gardentrading.co.uk

Georgian Antiques
Mahogany furniture is deeply unfashionable at the moment, so invest now in solidly built pieces in mint condition at this 50,000sq ft former whisky bond in Leith. 10 Pattison Street, Leith Links, Edinburgh georgianantiques.net

God’s Own Junkyard
If it’s neon, lights up and looks quirky, chances are it’s the work of Chris Bracey, who’s been in the neon sign business for 37 years. Long enough to have changed a lot of flashing lightbulbs. Unit 12 Ravenswood Industrial Estate, London E17 godsownjunkyard.co.uk

Habitat
Of the furniture chains, Habitat carries the largest stock, and with concessions in Homebase is hugely accessible. Classic stackable dining-chairs and clever storage options have a Scandi feel. habitat.co.uk

Heal’s
We get the feeling that the Heal’s design team has thought about how most of us actually live, assembling pieces that they themselves want. The result is an intelligently curated collection, cleverly displayed. Six branches nationwide and online. heals.co.uk

Hector Finch
What’s not to love about lights that look far more expensive than they are? Kit your house out at this endlessly inspiring shop, with the sort of pieces your friend with the impeccably interior-designed house might find, from lanterns to picture lights to table lamps. 90 Wandsworth Bridge Road, London SW6 hectorfinch.com

Hema
Bargain-bucket prices for colourful, well-designed basics from this Holland-based megalith. Branches in London, Bromley and Kingston upon Thames. hemashop.com

IACF Fairs
Ten thousand stalls selling every type of antique under the sun, at 29 events each year. Newark and Ardingly are our pick of the five locations, though Shepton Mallet has the advantage of being at the weekend. iacf.co.uk

John Julian
We’re convinced that food tastes better eaten off one of Julian Sainsbury’s handmade classical dinner plates with their smart cobalt-blue line around the rim. Guest artists are invited to produce distinctive one-off collections. johnjuliandesign.co.uk

Lassco
By combining showroom with restaurant, the Oxfordshire outpost of this architectural-salvage outfit repeats the trick of its Vauxhall location. It is also the place to find unusual items, such as a Victorian pulpit, among the fittings, fixtures and furniture. London Road, Milton Common, Oxfordshire lassco.co.uk

Looking Glass of Bath
Thirty-five years and still going strong… Mirrors large and small, old and new are what this Bath institution, with its bright-blue façade, does best. It will also make pieces to commission and can antique a piece of new mirror glass cut to fit a particular spot. 96 Walcot Street, Bath lookingglassofbath.com

The Lollipop Shoppe
Find big names at this big-hitter on the design-shop scene, which now has a brand-new space on Brighton seafront. Lighting and table settings with a strong modern aesthetic rub shoulders with Danish mid-century chairs from the likes of Carl Hansen. The whole lot is simply but beautifully curated. 54-55 Kings Road Arches, Brighton thelollipopshoppe.co.uk

Marks & Spencer
It might be best known for being the nation’s underwear provider, but let’s not forget that M&S is also pretty strong on the furniture front. From the new autumn collection, we have our eye on the Marcel Mona dressing-table and stool, and the Padstow larder, which is as smart as its green paint. marksandspencer.com

Mandarin Stone
Simply the best selection of terracotta, limestone, marble, granite etc. You name it, they’ve got it. And at prices that won’t leave you reeling. 10 showrooms nationwide mandarinstone.com

Marianna Kennedy
Proof positive that it’s better to do a few things well, Marianna Kennedy’s shop in the heart of Huguenot Spitalfields sells mirrors, resin lamps, bronze sconces and round-top tables. They’re pricey, but just one of these items will make a room. 3 Fournier Street, London E1 mariannakennedy.com

Modern Shows
Keep an eye on the website for up-to-date information on these fairs in Dulwich and Haggerston in London (with additional pop-ups), which bring together mid-century modern dealers for one day only, four times a year. Disciples of mid-century modern design (and their numbers are ever growing) know to arrive early for the best pieces. modernshows.com

Miles and Wilde
Ceiling moulds and cornices for our Victorian and Georgian housing stock are what these plaster perfectionists do best. Visitors to the monumental dining-room at Berners Street Hotel in London will have seen their work in all its glory. Unit A, Arch 110, Astbury Business Park, London SE15 milesandwilde.co.uk

The New England Shutter Company
Does exactly what it says on the tin. Five styles of shutter, both solid and tilting, made from wood from environmentally responsible suppliers. You can’t go wrong. 16 Jaggard Way, London SW12 thenewenglandshuttercompany.com

Oka
A visit to one of the 11 Oka showrooms nationwide will leave even the pokiest bedsit decked out like a comfortable Cotswold pile. The signature look is slightly Sloaney furnishings that might have been handed down through the generations. Would make a great alternative to a department-store wedding list. okadirect.com

Original BTC
Handmade in Oxford, these table, floor, pendant and wall lights in metal, bone china and prismatic glass are a modern take on elegantly curvy 20th-century designs, at reasonable prices. Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, London SW10 originalbtc.com

Pentreath & Hall
Ben Pentreath and Bridie Hall’s bijou shop is so elegantly kitted out in their twist on the traditional English look that we’d happily move in. There’s upholstered furniture, but it’s the finishing touches – vases, trays, linen napkins and the like – that are the real draw. Those unable to visit can follow Pentreath on his blog. 17 Rugby Street, London WC1 pentreath-hall.com

Pitfield London
Pick up a coffee and a slice of cake at the café on one side of this treasure-trove of vases, candlesticks, teapots and tankards. The buyers’ clever clustering of objects makes for a visual feast. Leave one hand free to grab a bunch from the florist just outside. 31-35 Pitfield Street, London N1 pitfieldlondon.com

Redbrick Mill
Quite simply the best all-round interiors destination outside London, with four floors of the best in the business: sofas from Conran and made.com, Feather & Black beds and Calligaris tables. There’s also a spa for the end of a long day’s shopping. 218 Bradford Road, Batley, West Yorkshire redbrickmill.co.uk

Redloh House
A number of textile tastemakers show their collections in this mews house tucked away behind the King’s Road, from Vanderhurd to Jennifer Shorto to Bird in the Hand. Good for prints-piration. The Old Gasworks, 2 Michael Road, London SW6 redlohhousefabrics.com

Design Centre Chelsea Harbour
A Mecca for interior designers, the 100 showrooms at DCCH also welcome the general public. Fabrics are a particular strength. Our favourite is Tissus d’Hélène, but other options include Colefax and Fowler, Lewis & Wood and Turnell & Gigon. Lots Road, London SW10 dcch.co.uk

Dickinson’s Period House Shops
Sticklers for period detail will appreciate the Bakelite light switches and replica Victorian airing racks at these two Shropshire shops. If they haven’t got what you’re after, their experienced restorers will help you hunt it down. 141 Corve Street, Ludlow, and 65 Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury periodhouseshops.com

Retrouvius
Wooden worktops, windows, slabs of marble and furniture – they’re all to be found in this cavernous warehouse of modish salvage. Look out for hand-dyed velvet cushions by Kirsten Hecktermann. 1,016 Harrow Road, London NW10 retrouvius.com

Tim Page Carpets
Anyone traumatised by 1970s carpet squares will be reassured by the tasteful carpets, rugs and runners to be found here. A full installation service will take away headaches, or have the company make something to the correct size for you and lay it yourself. Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, London SW10 timpagecarpets.com

Surface View
Get designs printed on to blinds, tiles, lampshades, wall hangings, Formica tabletops. Choose from about 3,000 Getty images, various museums and selected designers (or send your own) and start living in a technicolour dreamland. surfaceview.co.uk

Tinsmiths
Ticking stripes? Check. Checks? Er, check. Sturdy fabrics and Irish linens for smart curtains and upholstery abound here. Lighting and artists’ prints complete the line-up. Tinsmiths Alley, 8A High Street, Ledbury, Herefordshire tinsmiths.co.uk

West Elm
High-end New York style at reasonable prices. The rugs and dhurries are particularly good value compared with similar styles elsewhere. Think wood and steel finishes for furniture and neutral textiles. 209 Tottenham Court Road, London W1 westelm.co.uk

Willow & Stone
Once you’ve covered the glamorous bits (sofas, rugs, dining-table) you’re still going to need the less sexy stuff – door knobs, hooks, towel runners and the like. This shop should furnish you with the lot. 18 Arwenack Street, Falmouth, Cornwall willowandstone.co.uk

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10 of the best: painterly cushions

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Which interiors style is for you?

Colour-blocker, pastel lover or minimalist? Click through our gallery guide to create the interiors style that suits you.

COLOUR-BLOCKING

For proof that colour-blocking works as well on walls as it does in an outfit, look no further than this home, belonging to the French antiques dealer Florence Lopez. She is such a committed colourist she repaints every two years.

Picture: The Interior Archive

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Design notebook: colour, pattern, fashion and fun

Pull up a pew: Baines & Fricker

The Pew bench is a new design by Baines & Fricker, the Brighton-based husband-and-wife team whose crafty crossover style includes simple but handsome pieces from woods such as sycamore, elm, oak and beech. Inspired by the traditional church seating, Pew is made from Douglas fir stained a vibrant yellow, with the grain of the wood remaining visible. It costs £750 on its own, or £1,600 with three tapestrykneelers (handmade by Eliza Fricker’s aunt) to be used as seat pads or back rests (bainesandfricker.net).

What started out in 2000 as an eccentrically decorated restaurant in Shoreditch, east London, Les Trois Garçons has evolved into a brand that includes a bar, a ‘lifestyle’ store selling antiques and modern design, and a grand holiday rental (Château de la Goujeonnerie in France). It has also started producing its own homeware line, which includes this New Zealand wool rug (170?x?240cm), £4,560 from Harrods (harrods.com).

Plates of chicken: Anthropologie

Holly Frean is a London-based artist whose playful paintings of chickens have been applied to a series of plates that are available from Anthropologie. They are 21.5cm in diameter and cost £14 each (anthropologie.eu).

The fun house: Ben de Lisi at Debenhams

There is a fun and light-hearted feel to the homeware collection that the fashion designer Ben de Lisi has created for his Designers at Debenhams range. Pardon the terrible cliche, but it really is perfect for kids of all ages. Among my favourites are the doggy-shaped oven mitt (£8), ‘All you need is tea’ ceramic storage jar (£14) and this pencil-shaped lamp (£45). (debenhams.com).

Five of the best: leaning shelving units

Tilt, £129, Dwell (dwell.co.uk); Jai, £170, Habitat (habitat.co.uk); Step Ladder, £129, Marks & Spencer (marksandspencer.com); Lean, £99, House by John Lewis (johnlewis.co.uk) Brunel, £195, Rob Scarlett for Heal’s (heals.co.uk)

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Five of the best umbrellas

1. Orla Kiely by Fulton vinyl floral birdcage umbrella

The Queen and various other members of the Royal family have been using birdcage umbrellas for years, usually transparent ones with a trim to match one’s outfit. The shape offers maximum protection for the head and shoulders and, if you don’t need to be seen by adoring crowds on a daily basis, you can switch the see-through canopy for this pretty and lightweight Orla Kiely version.

2. Fulton Cyclone

£40, fultonumbrellas.com

Fulton, founded in 1956 by the engineer Arnold Fulton, is the UK’s bestselling umbrella brand and the holder of a Royal Warrant to the Queen. The Cyclone umbrella, as the name suggests, is hardy (it has been wind-tunnel tested to 78mph) and technically brilliant, with fibreglass ribs for strength, long-lasting polycarbonate joints and an ergonomic handle with a silicon finger pad for “high grip comfort”. It reduces down to a thin tube that you can zip into a case and carry on your back.

3. Knirps X1 Prints umbrella, paintdrops white

£44.95, brollied.com

Folding umbrellas have a habit of being less than satisfactory at either folding up small enough, or providing good protection from the elements. The “XI Prints” range is the proud winner of multiple European design awards and is the smallest model made by the German brand Knirps (which means “tot”, as in a tiny thing, in German), founded in 1928. The length of the umbrella’s sunglass-style case when closed is just 17.5cm, and it weighs 280g. Like all Knirps umbrellas, it has also been rigorously wind-tunnel tested and features fibre ribs with springs to avoid blowouts in heavy wind.

4. Aspinal ladies umbrella, black with fuchsia flower

£175, aspinaloflondon.com

The epitome of elegance for rainy days, this double-canopied umbrella by Aspinal of London has a serious black exterior with a cream border, and a beautiful bright-fuchsia lotus print inside. This is a brolly for those with a love of fine details: the fabric is polyester satin; the 36-inch shaft is brass with a marbled-acrylic handle (complete with pink Swarovski crystal, of course); and the umbrella is held closed with an Aspinal brass ring holder.

5. James Smith & Sons blackthorn root solid stick umbrella

£350, james-smith.co.uk

James Smith & Sons established a store on London’s Oxford Street in 1857, making it Europe’s oldest umbrella shop. It sells a vast range of brollies and the shop’s experts pride themselves on directing their customers to the perfect model — choosing a canopy from their fascinating selection cannot be far from the experience Harry Potter had when selecting his first magic wand. The handsome model pictured can have a black or holly green cover and the handle is made of solid blackthorn root with a sterling silver lapband. Each Smith & Sons umbrella is cut to the customer’s height.

Windproof Umbrella from the Telegraph Shop

The umbrella that doesn’t buckle in the wind, only £9.99 or two for £17.99

Buy now >

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My space: Laura Hamilton

My husband Alex and I bought this house in Purley, Croydon nine months ago. It needed a lot of work. As it was my 10th renovation, it didn’t faze me, but it was a mental time. A month before, I had given birth to my son Rocco. Then, the day after completing, I started on the Channel 4 ski show The Jump.

The place was uninhabitable. My mum says it now feels like a boutique hotel. My husband and I both love interior design. I buy things when I’m abroad for work. I once brought back a lantern from Marrakesh in the cockpit of an easyJet plane.

I fell into property developing by chance. I bought my first home at 19, having saved up the deposit from a part-time job. I had a huge mortgage. I got a job in television, but the channel went bust so I had to move back home. I rented out the property. Buying, renovating and selling houses became addictive.

Everyone says we’ll move in two years because I get restless. But we’ve got Rocco now. I really believe this is our forever home.

I saw this cowbell when I was in India for a wedding with my husband and his parents. My in-laws bought it for us and had planned to surprise us with it when we were back home. On the return journey, the alarm went off in customs. They were quite embarrassed when they had to get it out of their luggage and explain what it was

Sofa

I went into my local DFS store recently to look at furniture and a guy came running up to me, saying he recognised me from television. He asked whether I’d like to visit the DFS factory. At the time, I was a bit puzzled, but I had one of the best afternoons. I watched my sofa being made from start to finish, and even helped put the buttons in. I was really impressed

Coffee table

This is from an antiques shop in Merstham, Reigate that has now closed down. It looks like a treasure chest, but we had a sheet of glass cut for the top of it so that we could use it as a coffee table

Buddha picture

This is our only real piece of art. It’s from Spain – we have a house in San Pedro – and is by an artist called Alejandro Hermann. It belongs to Alex, my husband, and means a lot to him. Rocco, our son, loves looking at it, too

Laura Hamilton presents ‘A Place in the Sun’ on Channel 4

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Six of the best lamps for sale

Dog Lamp

This playful dog lamp, inspired by a little terrier named Samson, will light up your sitting room in more ways than one with its eccentric and adorable style. Available in either oak or dark cherry with brass fittings and an off-white shade. (£120, Clareloves.co.uk, 01494 874101)

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How to show off your record collection

One of the few positive stories to have emerged from the music industry over the past few years has been the resurgence in vinyl sales.

Where most physical sales have been plummeting, the format once thought dead is making a comeback. Last year 781,000 vinyl records were sold, the highest number since 1997.

Vinyl is the connoisseur’s choice, but it does have two major drawbacks: its lack of portability, and the amount of storage space it takes up.

I was reminded of this when I recently moved house, lugging 2,500 LPs with me. Musician and writer Bob Stanley had to do the same four years ago, moving his collection of 20,000 singles and 8,000 LPs first into storage and then his new flat.

Now his LPs sit in bespoke shelves, while his singles are accommodated in old Schweppes boxes, recovered from a record shop when it shut down. “My flat does look a lot like a record shop, which is quite weird,” he says.

Weird yet, surely, very reassuring. Anyone familiar with Nick Hornby’s novel High Fidelity will recall the moment where Rob Fleming sits on his living room floor after breaking up with his girlfriend, surrounded by piles of records that he is arranging chronologically, mapping his life through his music purchases. It is difficult to imagine sitting in front of a glowing computer screen and rearranging your iTunes as quite so romantic a vision.

Vinyl is much more durable than CDs, but there are a few things that must be avoided.

Sunlight is no friend of vinyl, and it is worth keeping records out of direct sunlight as they are liable to warp or become faded. “I had an Elvis single on HMV that I had cleaned and then left on the draining dish rack before going out, forgetting about it until the following day. By the time I got to it, it had warped,” sighs Stanley. Cats are another worry. I was thrilled to see a new collection being priced up recently. Rare prog, folk and psych gems winked at me from the pile. It was only when they were turned round that I realised all the spines of the LPs were ripped to shreds. “The owner’s cat used his vinyl as a scratching post,” I was told. And that is why I shall never own a cat.

Realistically, keeping your prized Beatles Sgt Pepper mono press in good shape requires a plastic cover, but beware what type you choose.

A few years ago vinyl fans discovered that PVC record covers were damaging their albums. The PVC was reacting with the vinyl, causing the surface of the records to turn cloudy and sound dreadful.

If only someone had told the BBC in the Eighties.“The whole BBC archive collection of singles was kept in thin polythene tucked inside PVC sleeves so they sweated and many of them got fogged and sound terrible,” says Stanley. We both shudder, and head around the corner to check out a record shop. Spotting something I need, I grab it.

Well, I’m sure I can squeeze a few more in somewhere.

TOP 5 TIPS FOR ORGANISING & STORING YOUR COLLECTION:

1 Ikea Kallax shelves perfectly fit LPs. There was an outcry when they announced they would stop producing the Expedit range but this new version thankfully still fits vinyl.

2 Wooden crates such as Schweppes boxes for singles, or old beer or milk bottle boxes for LPs work really well. They are now highly sought after, but you can find them in vintage shops for about £30.

3 Avoid solid PVC covers and go for the polythene ones.

4 Avoid sunlight unless you want your favourite Cure LP warped beyond recognition.

5 Do not stack records on top of one another. This will result in dishing – where the album will bend out of shape.

‘Portobello Road: Lives of a Neighbourhood’ (Frances Lincoln, RRP £16.99) is available to order from Telegraph Books (0844 871 1514) at £14.99 + £1.35 p&p.

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