Back in the Spring, film photographer Katharine Peachey and I visited the East London home of one of my oldest friends, Katie Shillingford, who lives with her music producer husband, Alex Dromgoole, and two year old daughter, Mila. Katie and I went to school together and then she went on to study at Central Saint Martins and Camberwell College of Arts. At this point, it was very clear that she was headed for an incredibly successful career in the fashion world, which now seems like an understatement. The current Fashion Director at Another magazine and the contributing Senior Fashion Editor at Dazed and Confused magazine: Katie’s fashion stylist skills are just extraordinary.
As a teenager and student, I always admired Katie’s ability to turn her bedroom into an eclectic and super cool interior, bursting at the seams with clothes, curios, pictures, photos, ornaments and furniture. Today, however, Katie and Alex have pared their style right back; almost an antidote to the crazy, hectic schedules they both manage. In Katie’s own words: “Over time my taste has refined, life has got really hectic and full, and so I don’t want to surround myself with all that stuff.”
Since Katharine shot their home, the couple have bought and moved to a huge barn project in the countryside, so when we visited they were getting ready to move, and they don’t feel that they ever really “finished off” their home, after doing an extensive renovation of the period property: “Mila arrived, our jobs took over and we never got round to styling it in the way that we had planned. I haven’t even put any pictures up since I hung the first one incorrectly,” jokes Alex.
Now that they are moving on, Katie still likes the idea of keeping the beautiful blank canvas that they did create in their London home: “I like to have a clear canvas so I can add the things that I love. The inside of a home naturally evolves and that’s why we kept it white so we could add to it over time.” The couple chose grey as a “neutral highlight” to emphasise the wonderful period features throughout their home because that was the colour Katie loved during that particular fashion season. Her own beautiful wedding dress designed by Gareth Pugh, which is currently exhibited in the V&A’s Wedding Dresses show, was pale grey.
When we sit down together to talk about their home – on the sofa I remember so well from Katie’s parents’ home – it is very clear that the couple take an equal part in the decision making process: “Katie panics about the decisions and I make the decisions,” states Alex. “But Alex has to agree with me,” Katie quickly interjects. Sounds familiar to me. They reel off a list of their favourite interiors shops that they frequent: Past Caring, Chase and Sorrenson, Fandango, SCP, as well as trawling eBay and searching for 1930’s Art Deco or mid-century furniture. So much in their home has a memory attached, which reflects Katie’s work as a stylist; every shoot begins with a story: “I like things for what they are or for what they have meant to us.”
A special thank you to Katharine for these beautiful medium format film photographs – be sure to check out more of her beautiful interiors shoots. Thank you to Katie and Alex, too, for a lovely Sunday morning spent with them. As they move on and away from this, their first family home, they want to take with them what they have learnt from this project and the inspiration that came from the fifteenth century farmhouse in France, where Alex proposed to Katie. I can not wait to see the results.