Lucinda Chambers’ Shelving Design Tips

Comprehensive home tours are wonderful and inspiring, but most of us decorate step-by-step, focusing on

Comprehensive home tours are wonderful and inspiring, but most of us decorate step-by-step, focusing on (and perfecting) specific areas at a time. In Anatomy of a Nook, we’re dissecting specific areas of a home and asking our stylish friends to break down the process behind their favorite nook, cranny, or corner of their homes.


“I went into the loo a month ago and I was like, ‘This is not good,’” says Lucinda Chambers of the smallest room in her house. “I hadn’t taken any notice of this loo, but I spend quite a lot of time here, and so does everybody else, and they should be having a pleasant time.” So, naturally, Chambers set about creating a nautical feel in the smallest room in her house. Now, “it’s lovely.”

Chambers is an editor by trade. Three decades at Vogue followed by the launch of her own ventures, Collagerie and Colville, effectively honed her creative eye. Her Shepherd’s Bush home, which she and her husband purchased over 30 years ago, reflects that distinct sense of style. “I’m a big swapper-outer,” Chambers explains, though she prefers a more evolutionary approach to dramatic changes. No nook, cranny, or wash closet has been left untouched.

And in said nooks and crannies, you’ll find the spoils of Chambers’ aesthetic treasure hunts. Great markets are “better than drugs,” she muses. “It took my mother a long time to realize I could come back with a lollipop stick, but I had to come back with something that was a memento of that day. It’s deeply psychological.”

Though the entirety of her home stimulates your senses via color, texture, and the occasional oddity, the principal bedroom she wanted to feel calm. A soft, fluttery pink coat of paint provides a backdrop for a printed bedspread and an assortment of personal artifacts. Nestled in the corner, you’ll find a fascinating shelving unit, a sort of cabinet of curiosities displaying tidbits of her collections.

Unlike the rest of her home, this shelving unit has mostly remained the same for 25 years. A doodle by her husband laid the framework and they now house mementos from their life together. “It has looked like that forever,” Chambers explains. “Little things might change. There are little mementos that I keep close.” Discover more about these knickknacks and more as the esteemed editor offers us a glimpse of her creative brain by hashing out every detail of her shelving unit below.

Photo: Courtesy of Lucinda Chambers

“[Those shelves] have been there for about 25 years. My husband, who I literally don’t let change a light bulb in the house, actually designed those shelves. He said, ‘I’m going to just do a little doodle,’ and then he did them with this lovely carpenter. And then the little mirrored bits [came from] my lovely friend Zoe Bedeaux. She’s a bit of a witch, and she’s fabulous. I went to her house, and she was playing with these mirrored chips. I was like, ‘Zoe, those are so amazing.’ She was like, ‘Oh, darling, I can come and do it for you.’ She came and stayed for about six weeks and then her daughters moved in, as well. That was a very happy time. She just did a few mosaics a day.”

On her love of curating:

“I think it’s a love of products. I do love stuff, I’m not going to lie. I guess my happy place is rummaging around in a market. And usually, when I’m in a market, I probably won’t be looking for clothes, I will be looking for that one thing that is weird and peculiar that I’ve never seen anywhere else. I totally flip-flop between [fashion and home], but it’s about design and production. And I’m obsessed about both.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lucinda Chambers

On the technical side of arrangement:

“What I suppose I like about any shelf that I’m fiddling or twiddling with is different height proportions, and I’m a big fan of brown. Brown will work its way into every shelf.

On curating a shelf pre-social media:

“I suppose I did these before Instagram days, so it really was for my eyes and my husband’s eyes only. Now if I’m twiddling with a shelf, I will take a picture of it to see how it looks. It’s a different sort of discipline, but I actually quite like it. It’s just different. [This nook] is very personal because I didn’t think anybody else was going to look at it.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lucinda Chambers

On ceramics:

“I’ve always collected mid-century studio pottery. I love the school of Bernard Leach. I’m not very knowledgeable about it, but ceramics have everything. It’s three dimensional, it’s texture, it’s color, it’s touch, you know. Every glaze makes you feel something. There’s something intensely personal about the person who’s made, who touched them, who’s been on that wheel or done it freehand.”

On collecting:

“I want everybody to be different. That’s what I want. And I want to encourage everybody to be different and follow their own path and follow their own instinct. It’s not educated. It just comes from something you respond to. It doesn’t matter if it’s in, out, fashionable, or not fashionable. I mean, who gives a shit, but it’s lovely to fall in love with something.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lucinda Chambers

On fashion versus interiors:

“I often think,
Am I passionate about interiors because I’ve spent my life in fashion? And [typically] you kind of hate what you’re in, but I love what I’m in. So I think it’s about decoration, whether that’s on the body or the home. To me, there’s no boundary. There’s no line in the sand. I’m as happy decorating a Christmas tree as I am putting on a new dress.”

On the books:

“I think there’s a first-edition Saul Bellow in there. I think I bought it to impress my husband when I first met him, and it’s remained there ever since. Nothing impresses him. But I always do have books on the go. So they will tend to be there or by our bed or, you know, kind of like anywhere really.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lucinda Chambers

On the beads:

“I like to have them on hand because, otherwise, I’d forget. I’ve got a shelf in my bathroom that is just covered in beads, as well. But that’s a good bead hanger-upper because it’s right by my cupboard. So, I grab a bead and grab a bag.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lucinda Chambers

On the florals:

“I always have a fake flower. Can’t kill those however hard you try. They’ve been there for ages, I think.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lucinda Chambers

And wicker:

“I’m a big wicker fan. I guess I like the way you can display things on it. Like I’ve got one wicker thing on my chest of drawers that has all my earrings on it. I’ve always collected wicker.”

How she feels when she stands in front of the shelves:

“I feel calm. It’s a very calm room.”

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