I first launched the style warrior secrets series because I was interested in what drives people to be creative in choosing decor and items for their home whether it be to experiment and release a hidden side to their personality, to escape from the real world, to show off to friends and neighbours, to be someone else, just a way to gather little memories around them or in fact to attract a mate… ok the last one was just to see if you’re listening but we all feather our nests in different ways and I find that really intriguing.
The way we arrange ( or don’t arrange) our things around us says so much about us. Tidy home = tidy mind… right? Is that all that says? Some might say it equals an empty mind or just someone with a serious OCD issue. Can our nesting in all its styles and forms actually be about self care? By making things just a little bit more comforting at home we CAN face the workplace on Monday and all the strife the week brings. By having not a thing out of place and everything pristine we can pretend we ARE perfect. By being a bit more adventurous we can stimulate our imagination and take ourselves off to another place for a while and become ANYONE we want to. Whatever the need, I think there’s something so empowering about being able to change our environment. It’s ultimate symbol of freedom and the first thing to be taken away as a form of punishment so it must be important.
This weeks style warrior has built a home that I feel is centred so much around nurturing. From her work in maternity to babysitting her grandchildren to looking after her lovely dog, she is someone who naturally seems to make people feel calm and relaxed. Her home absolutely matches her personality which as an Insta-mate I can say is so kind, friendly and up for a laugh. Cosy layered textures, natural wood, colourful textile weaves and silky sheepskins draped so invitingly along with twinkly candlelight welcome you in to her home and yet the art that animates very inch of wall tells of another quietly cool and anarchic side. It has a stylish yet relaxed bohemian vibe and you just know you could come as you are and hang out with her on a Friday night over a glass of wine and a spag bol – putting the world to rights! Enter the very lovely Danielle Le Petit or (@daniellellp on Instagram) to tell her interiors story…..
Hi, I’m Danielle. I was born in Australia but have lived in the UK since I was 5. I live in Surrey with my Husband Martin. We have 3 grown up children, all have left home now, and we’ve been in our current Victorian home for 10 years. I’ve worked for Maternity services for the last 17 years within the NHS and I work in the community. My husband is a carpenter and has his own business.
1. How would you describe your interiors style and how has this changed over the years?
I’ve always had an interest in interiors, I have no idea where this interest stems from as no one in my family shares my passion! Even as a young girl I knew how I wanted to style my bedroom and had visions of how I would furnish my first home. Interestingly, I remember that I wanted plants everywhere so that is something that has stayed with me throughout my life. To be honest, my style hasn’t changed that much in the last 20 years, I’ve stayed pretty much with the same basic aesthetic, which I would probably describe as Eclectic with a bit of Boho thrown in.
2. What’s a ‘typical’ week in the life of Danielle Le Petit?
A typical week in my life finds me working 3 days a week, one afternoon a week I look after one of my grandchildren, the rest of my time is spent on my home and garden, walking my dog, catching up with friends and of course finding time for Instagram!
3. Can you describe for us what role art plays within your home?
Art plays a big part in the styling of my home and although I’m very honest about my lack of knowledge of art, I do know what I love and just buy from the heart really – if I love it, I love it. Most of my art is not expensive and my main love is Typography in all its forms. I have a huge amount of it in my home.
4. What’s your favourite piece of art in your home and why?
My favourite piece of art in my home is a photographic portrait by the very talented Pati Robins. It’s of an ex-army war veteran who has PTSD, but his fierce defiant attitude shines through in the photograph and it always stops people in their tracks when they see it for the first time. It’s also huge which adds to the impact and it still makes me smile every time I see it.
5. What’s your creative process for coming up with interior décor ideas?
I don’t feel that I necessarily have a creative process when thinking of interior projects, but will just see something perhaps, for example at a salvage yard, or antique fair, and will think about how I can incorporate that piece into my home, or will start a room with a certain piece in mind and work from there. Greatest source of inspiration these days is definitely Instagram, but I still like Pinterest and certain interior magazines. I don’t have a particular style icon, but there are so many people on Instagram whose style I aspire to. In particular, I love Emilie Fournet’s style of interior design.
6. Tell us about your favourite creative interiors project within your home…and to make us all feel better, what was your biggest interiors mistake?
Our loft room is probably my favourite of our interior projects because it was done at a very stressful time in our lives and on the smallest budget imaginable, which was extremely frustrating and miserable at times but I look back with pride now at a great space created out of very little. Every ounce of ingenuity and imagination had to be used to come up with the cheapest option without compromising too much on style. I won’t lie, it’s not how I would have it if money was more freely available, the fixtures and fittings would be much better quality and I don’t love the furniture, but its good old Ikea and it’s what my son chose at the time and of course it was in our budget!
We haven’t had any DIY disasters that I can remember but when we changed our cabinets in our current kitchen to a French Grey, I was totally confident in choosing a colour for the walls…14 coats later we finally settled on pure brilliant white!!! I kid you not, each time I picked a colour we would do the usual, paint a sample on wallpaper lining and pin it around to see it in all different lights and each time I felt happy and confident with my choice. However, when it was painted over the entire wall surface, I kept hating it, and slowly but surely totally lost my normal cocky confident attitude to decorating!
7. Can you share your best DIY Style Warrior ‘secret’ tip from your creative projects?
My main tips regarding decorating your home and styling are to use the best materials you can afford. Money has been tight for us for a few years now as we had a financial disaster when the recession hit, so we have had to compromise a lot more than we would’ve liked. I hope that we’ve shown you can do your home on a very tight budget, it’s much harder and more challenging but very satisfying when you are happy with the end result. It’s not perfect by a long way and it’s taken much longer than we would’ve liked but we got there in the end! We’ve also upcycled where possible and used a lot of reclaimed materials or my husband makes us furniture as he’s a carpenter, which is obviously very handy.
8. Can you give any gems of advice for those looking to create an individual look in their homes?
I think when you are trying to achieve an individual look for your home, you’ve got to go with your gut instinct and not worry about what other people will think.
There will always be people that don’t like or even understand your home but to me that’s even better because it tells me it’s not boring hopefully. I love lots of texture in my home, I love the tactile nature of it and I really believe that lots of different textures provide warmth, character and comfort into your home. Also, I’m a huge believer in shopping at salvage yards, independents, Ebay and antique shops to create a more individual unique look. Nothing wrong with the high street either of course, but it’s good to have a mix so your home doesn’t look too generic. I also try and avoid ‘trends’ if I can, most items/furniture in our home we have had for over 20 years now because none of it was ‘on trend’. Having said that, I totally get sucked in too sometimes and will get something that everyone is buying but that’s ok if you love it!
9. If you threw the ultimate house party who would be your surprise star guest (dead or alive!) and what would you ask them to bring?
If I threw the ultimate house party and could have anyone dead or alive it would have to be Lauren Bacall. I named my daughter after her and have loved her style ever since I was a teenager. I read her Autobiography and she led such an interesting incredible life and met the love her life, Humphrey Bogart when she was just 19. I wouldn’t ask her to bring anything, I would just love to listen to her deep raspy voice telling me about her life in Hollywood and with Humphrey Bogart.
10. What’s your best trait and worst vice that we should know about before we move in?
My best trait I think, is that I’m a pretty good listener. My worst trait is impatience!! So as long as you don’t take too long doing something, we’ll get along fine!
Few of us have a massive budget to spend on home decor so being creative is more important than ever. I love that Danielle has styled her home over the years, saving up to make special purchases if she really loves something or finding a special vintage piece or more economical way to create a recycled piece that might have otherwise been unaffordable. That’s not doing without, that’s making it happen! She has shown that owning and hanging art doesn’t have to be a pretentious thing, it can and should be the most personal thing of all and not being afraid to put up what you love is liberating.
Decorating and styling our homes might seem a bit frivolous when the world outside seems to be changing so drastically for the worse but it’s the very thing that can help us to cope with the constant noise and mindless blur out there. Creating space to think, to notice the small stuff, to marvel at little home triumphs that help us to make our individual mark however small, allows us to keep growing and that brings happiness in my book. Getting to know yourself, your needs and recognising that your environment has a direct effect on your emotional and physical health is not frivolous it’s absolutely empowering – a style warrior trait of the highest order!