“Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style.”

I try to go straight to the source when looking for inspiration.  Instead of emulating or borrowing from the work of an imitator, I look back to the original decorators of the 20th Century, the greats, one of whom is Billy Baldwin.  Baldwin was an American decorator prolific from the late 1930’s through to his retirement in 1973.  Known as the ‘dean of decorators’, Baldwin was an early advocate of mixing different styles and periods, as long as there was an underlying current connecting them – quality.

I bought his book, Billy Baldwin Decorates (1972) from a charity shop in Melbourne in 1993, and have always been reminded of his message since then – essentially, that it’s better to have gaps in an interior, with one good piece rather than several ordinary pieces.  Invest in pieces with integrity and, as Baldwin himself said, “Let the room grow slowly to maturity.”

Both classical and modern, Billy Baldwin’s style was to become the American style, and his clients included Cole Porter, Greta Garbo, Jackie Onassis, Diana Vreeland, and William S. Paley.  My favourite Baldwin interior, however, is his legendary one room New York apartment.  Between the dark brown lacquered walls, the French 18th Century furniture, the oriental pieces, the simple white slip covered sofas and the modern cane and metal furnishings, this interior has left a continuous impression on me since that fortuitous trip to the charity shop.