Meet the interior designer: Lucy Barlow

We talk to top London interior designer Lucy Barlow about neoclassicism, lighting as secret weapon and the lure of leopard print…

Lucy and her brother Max founded Barlow & Barlow in 2013 and have rapidly established themselves as one of London’s most exciting interior design practices. Offering a complete interior architecture, decoration and lighting service with a focus on flair, boldness and art, their interiors are described as ‘an antidote to the blandness of the instant house look’. Here’s our exclusive Q&A with Lucy Barlow… Image: Barlow & Barlow

How did you get started in interior design?

I have always been fascinated by art, European architecture and fashion, so interior design was a fairly natural route for me. I actually studied fashion initially but, wanting to have a more fluidly creative career, I then went on to the Inchbald and then after graduating I worked with the wonderful Mark Gillette, assisting in the creation of interiors for a series of big country house estates. A couple of years later I got the opportunity to work on an amazing solo interiors project: the restoration of a quartet of luxury London apartments inside Gatti House, a beautiful grade II listed building on the Strand. I was given a huge amount of flexibility and worked on blending classism with a rich interior style, full of a riotous sense of fun, colour and pattern. The success of this project was the springboard for founding Barlow & Barlow in 2013. Image: Barlow & Barlow Image: Barlow & Barlow

How would you describe your interior design style?

I am a Maximalist at heart: I love creating spaces full of interest which offer up more and more every-time you look at them. I also love the English Country House style but I tend to update the traditional approach in my projects by paring back the design and having fun with it. I like to mix an antique or vintage piece with an incredibly modern item (and I absolutely can’t resist a touch of leopard print!). Image: Barlow & Barlow Image: Barlow & Barlow Image: Barlow & Barlow

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I take huge inspiration from Neoclassicism: its proportions, symmetry and ornamental flourishes, and I often reference art and fashion to bring in bolder colours and patterns. I also subscribe to all the interiors glossies from all over the world and learn and absorb so much from them. I am always excited by the work of my contemporaries. Image: Barlow & Barlow

How does lighting play a part in your interiors?

Lighting is an interior designer’s secret weapon. It’s the best way to create instant warmth and ambience in a room. It’s a clever tool which can draw attention to or away from elements and gives you the ability to create several different moods in the same space. Image: Barlow & Barlow Image: Barlow & Barlow Image: Barlow & Barlow

Which recent projects are you particularly proud of?

We just finished a great lateral apartment in Notting Hill. The clients were a young couple looking for their first London home, a place where they could begin married life and start a family. They are an Englishman and a Canadian who met in Geneva, so there was a cosmopolitan element to their requirements. They wanted a smart and classic home with a focus on entertaining and hosting so it also needed to be fun and welcoming. They had inherited some fabulous pieces of art and furniture and we needed to incorporate them in an intelligent way which complimented them whilst keeping the scheme fresh and up to date.

Image: Barlow & Barlow

Image: Barlow & Barlow

I think we were really successful in creating a scheme that was future proofed with the potential for starting a family, and was both smart and lux look without being stuffy.

Do you have any tips for creating a cosy corner – a space that’s all your own?

My whole house has been designed with a cosy and welcoming feel in mind. I love collecting (I have an especial fondness for pineapples) and have lots of eclectic pieces living next to each other. I love every room in my house but at this time of year I have a little courtyard which I have designed as an exotic paradise, using a coral colour with a venetian paint effect on the walls and wide striped and palm patterned bench cushions, making it feel like a Moroccan Riad. It’s a leafy retreat from the world and the perfect place for cosy summer dinners and escaping from the world. It is my little oasis and I don’t feel like I'm in London when I am there.

Image: Barlow & Barlow

Cosy to me is anywhere my ‘frug’ Figaro is, she has a terrible habit of joining me on any chair I sit in…but I can’t help but let her because she is an instant relax and unwind.

Finally, do you have a favourite Pooky light?

I don’t think we could possibly choose! It’s such a great and varied collection and different pieces appeal to different schemes. We love the Wexford (unfortunately the Wexford is no longer available, but please take a look at our extensive range of table lamps herefor some dignified Georgian panache but we’ve also had great fun using the large Artur lamps in more whimsical schemes. The Coolie wall lights (unfortunately the Coolie wall lights are no longer available, but please take a look at our extensive range of wall lights hereare also incredibly useful lights to have up our sleeves for all sorts of applications like bookcases, cinema rooms and guest cloakrooms.

The Wexford in situ - interior by Barlow and Barlow. You can view more of Barlow & Barlow's stunning interiors portfolio on their website. And you can follow Lucy on Instagram and Facebook.