Can a Chanel handbag on a wall be considered art? Can a Swarovski-studded shoe, displayed on a plinth, constitute a sculpture? They can in Tara Nash-King's home, but then she lives, breathes and works fashion to the max from her very bijou mews house in — where else — Notting Hill.
Tara bought the three-storey house four years ago as a desirable white shell and, as the owner of Chic&Seek (www.chicandseek.com), a fashion retail company that sells pre-owned Pradas, Chanels, Louis Vs and the like, she has turned it into her home, office and showroom.
Her company mantra is painted in shocking pink on the office wall: "One girl's freak is another girl's chic!" Not surprisingly, for a girl whose hand towels are multi-striped Missoni, Tara's decorating style is all about colour, print and pattern.
The first thing she did when she moved in was wind a garland of pink silk roses along the outside balcony and paint the living room French windows dayglo pink.
"Notting Hill is an exciting, vibrant place — colourful, multi-stranded, eclectic — and I wanted my new home to reflect these elements," she says. "Besides, my last home was a flat in South Kensington, all neutrals and good taste, and I'd so had enough of that. Here, I wanted to break out."
She has done just that, cleverly keeping to white walls — with the exception of one living room wall painted Dior grey — so that her colour choices in furnishings and fabrics really pop, but, carefully co-ordinated, are nonetheless easy on the eye.
Chanel and Tod handbags hang on the wall, objects of beauty, each held on the fingers of a sculptured hand
In the first-floor living room, Graham & Green's embroidered folklore cushions and Missoni Mexican-striped throws add a decorative layer to a chartreuse green Designers Guild sofa and vintage armchairs, reupholstered in chamois suede.
The much-admired coffee table that belonged to her mother, a glass circle supported by an art nouveau bronze figure, rests on a rug that looks as if it has been splashed with several cans of primary-coloured paint.
She couldn't find a brightly coloured dresser, so painted an Ikea black cabinet with high-gloss purple, and pinned a group of decorative mirrors, old and new, to the white wall above.
Laden dress rails aside — and they are literally pushed aside, to the edges of the room — she has managed to merge the showroom into the living room by turning the merchandise into artworks.
Chanel and Tod handbags hang on the wall, objects of beauty in shades of beige and camel, each held on the fingers of a sculptured hand, an idea inspired by the way Balenciaga sold its handbags a few seasons back.
Mad shoe-boots encrusted with zillions of Swarovski crystals are displayed as sculpture on a mirrored cabinet and a pile of shoes that would look awkward on the floor uses vertical space, courtesy of half a dozen stacked white cubes, each displaying one perfect pair.
"My big storage secret is Morplan, a London shop-fittings store that has lots of space-saving ideas, like these display cubes," she says. "I also found great white wooden hangers there." On the wall above is a limited-edition print designed for the fashion house Hermès, bought by her boyfriend when she turned 30.
In the top-floor bedroom, Nash-King struggled with the out-there notion of a Philippe Starck bathtub at the end of her bed, but after all, it was already installed, left by the last owner. "I did think I could have a massive wardrobe instead, but it does suit the space, and it's great fun, so it had a reprieve."
Needing the bedroom to be a retreat — the only room she has in her home that is totally private — she bought a double bed from Laura Ashley that stashes away to a single-size daybed, so she can use the extra floor space for yoga sessions.
The downstairs area comprises a spare bedroom that Tara converted into a changing room, and an office, with corner shoe shop, that opens to a small courtyard garden.
Very Tara, she wrapped an undulating white wall around the back of the garden that she and friends can perch on, to remind her of the white sands of a favourite holiday destination, Ibiza.
The small hallway has become a grand entrance by the addition of a wall-hung Italian Thirties console with compartments — currently holding sunglasses collections — and an oversize circular mirror on the wall above.
"I saw a similar but unaffordable mirror in an exclusive shop, then was thrilled to discover a much cheaper version in BHS," says Tara. "For me, like clothes, the fun of dressing a house is mixing old with new, expensive with bargain."
Photographs: Clive Nichols