AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE OGUNDEHIN (PODCAST NOTES)

Notoriously private about her home, Michelle posts only corners of her rooms and has said she will never, ever, invite a magazine into her house to photograph it. So Sophie Robinson and I were both thrilled and privileged to be invited into her Brighton cottage for a full house tour and to chat about Michelle’s decorating philosophy for our podcast The Great Indoors. You can listen here.

We were allowed to take some pictures to illustrate the points we make in the podcast and Michelle has given permission for these to be used. Because, as she says: “This is my home. It’s not my work and it’s a very personal and private space. It’s a very intimate thing to invite someone in.”

On the day we arrive, the two basset hounds are out with the dog walker while Michelle’s young son is at school and Michelle has time to chat.

The double fronted cottage was built in 1821 and has the leaded windows and low ceilings associated with that period. Downstairs there is a hall with an L-shaped kitchen and living space fitted around it and a separate writing room with a sofa where Michelle meditates when she feels the “overwhelm”.

A dark herringbone parquet covers the whole downstairs floor. It came from Ecora and Michelle is unapologetic about how long it took to get the colour just right.

“Each piece was laid by hand  – it’s not engineered wood – and I knew I wanted it dark. But not black. And not too brown. So it was a case of darker, darker, no that’s too dark. But now it’s too brown.

home of michelle ogundehin hanging plants

MAD ABOUT . . .

AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE OGUNDEHIN (PODCAST NOTES)

17TH OCTOBER 2019

Michelle Ogundehin needs little introduction; the editor of Elle Decoration for 13 years (from 2004) she is now a regular television presenter, creative consultant and is just finishing off her first book.

home of michelle ogundehin floor length curtains

Notoriously private about her home, Michelle posts only corners of her rooms and has said she will never, ever, invite a magazine into her house to photograph it. So Sophie Robinson and I were both thrilled and privileged to be invited into her Brighton cottage for a full house tour and to chat about Michelle’s decorating philosophy for our podcast The Great Indoors. You can listen here.

We were allowed to take some pictures to illustrate the points we make in the podcast and Michelle has given permission for these to be used. Because, as she says: “This is my home. It’s not my work and it’s a very personal and private space. It’s a very intimate thing to invite someone in.”

home of michelle ogundehin floor length curtains

On the day we arrive, the two basset hounds are out with the dog walker while Michelle’s young son is at school and Michelle has time to chat.

The double fronted cottage was built in 1821 and has the leaded windows and low ceilings associated with that period. Downstairs there is a hall with an L-shaped kitchen and living space fitted around it and a separate writing room with a sofa where Michelle meditates when she feels the “overwhelm”.

A dark herringbone parquet covers the whole downstairs floor. It came from Ecora and Michelle is unapologetic about how long it took to get the colour just right.

“Each piece was laid by hand  – it’s not engineered wood – and I knew I wanted it dark. But not black. And not too brown. So it was a case of darker, darker, no that’s too dark. But now it’s too brown.

home of michelle ogundehin hanging plants

“I didn’t have a particular colour in mind I just knew how I wanted it to feel.”

The walls are painted in Arquerite by Little Greene, a soft greyish lilac that Michelle calls Bruised Purple. It was Brassica by Farrow & Ball but there was a drop too much pink in it and it had to go. It’s all about the details but when you spend time getting those details right it’s really worth it. Michelle’s home is warm, calm, comfortable and full of interesting things to look at.

The ceilings throughout are painted in full gloss Blackened by Farrow & Ball, while all the walls are eggshell. This soft sheen bounces the light around. In the dining room at the front the curtains are floor length velvet, in sitting room at the back they are dark to match the dark green wall. And there is Anaglypta wallpaper everywhere bringing texture to the spaces while a foxed mirror wallpaper lines the back of some shelves.

“The walls are your biggest palette” says Michelle. “That’s where you can play and it’s such a shame when it’s all one plain flat colour.”

A self-confessed “tinkerer” who was inspired by Sir John Soanes, Michelle points to an inch wide mustard coloured stripe that runs along the top of the dado rail and under the bottom of the shelves that is only visible if you are sitting down.

home of michelle ogundehin gio ponti chair

“I was sitting at the dining table one day and noticed it and just thought I wonder what it would feel like if I painted it,” she says.

But there is method to her tinkering because the ceiling at the back of kitchen is painted the same. And there is a gold velvet sofa in her writing room.

home of michelle ogundehin mustard sofa

The key is that it all comes down to the palette. You can do what you like in a space as long as you have worked out your palette. And that includes not just the colours but the materials as well – from marble and wood to metals (two only can be mixed) and every single detail.

Once you have worked out your palette then you can take it throughout the whole house using it in different concentrations in different spaces. Get this right and the whole thing will flow. And you will create the feeling that you need from your home which, in Michelle’s case is one of calm and retreat.

home of michelle ogundehin shelf detail

With her son’s drawings covering every wall and the two large dog beds in the kitchen, this is clearly a family home albeit one that has been meticulously planned. The hall is clutter free; coats live in the cupboard under the stairs, shoes are tucked into the living room because it’s crucial, for Michelle, that she walks back into a clear and calm space.

Another of her tricks is to have lots of built-in furniture. This is mostly made up of Ikea kitchen units that are bolted to wall and “float” over the floor. Yes there is the old trick of seeing more floor space, and this is not a huge house so that matters, but also because she wants to keep everything tidy and in its place. The cupboards have Superfront doors on and Michelle has added marble, left over from the bathroom, to the top to make them feel more luxurious and “like a sideboard”.