In TZR’s franchise, Interior Motives, celebrities and tastemakers discuss their unique approach to home design and how it reflects their personal aesthetic.
While the past year found many in their kitchens or home offices, Carolina A. Herrera could likely be found in her garden. Yes, a favorite feature of her new home in the heart of Madrid, the creative director of fragrance at Carolina Herrera spent each day nurturing the plethora of fragrant botanicals in her city dwelling.
“I love gardening,” says Herrera to TZR. “I love flowers. Working with perfume, I’ve explored that side quite a bit.” In fact, the latest fragrance in the Carolina Herrera roster, Very Good Girl, is a floral-based scent, with key notes of rose incorporated. Could this be a case of Herrera’s life imitating her art or vice-versa? In any case, the greenery is great for her mood and mental health. “Just having [a garden] and being able to look at it every morning, rather than going to [my country house] once in a while, just makes me so happy.”
Indeed, it took a truly magical space to convince the business woman (and daughter of design legend Carolina Herrera) to leave her lavish fifth-floor apartment on the cusp of a global pandemic — and the garden very well may have been the tipping point for her.
“It’s the first time I lived in a house, which I literally found on the internet,” says Herrera. “I was like, I’m only going to move if I find a house because I love my apartment so much.”
And who could blame her? The apartment in question was truly a real estate dream, with 13-foot ceilings, constant streams of natural light, and furnished with an eclectic mix of 18th- and 19th-century furniture, vibrant cotton fabrics, and the occasional flea market find.
Herrera says her mission was to bring the same colorful, laid-back vibe of her beloved apartment to her new house. “I have two dogs and a cat, three children and now my niece is living with me,” she explains. “There are tons of friends coming in and out [of the house] all the time. I don’t like houses that you don’t use. I like everything to be used all the time and the dogs to sleep on the bed and cat on the sofa. I love a relaxed home where you feel welcome. You feel cozy. You feel good vibes.”
Ahead, read on as Herrera guides TZR through her new digs and her unique approach to design.
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When you’re taking on a new home and fresh design canvas, what’s your approach?
When I look at the space, I don’t even look at space for furniture. I look at the space for light and vibe. It’s like an energy thing. Then, I’ll come in with stuff, because I’m not one to get rid of everything and start fresh. It takes me a while to find things that I love, so they all mean something and I try and see where everything fits.
What are some of these key pieces that are near and dear to you?
Well, there’s a daybed that I’ve had for a really long time that comes with me. And then art that I’ve had for a long time — some pieces mean more than others, but I fell in love with all of them. So they all are part of a love story.
My bed is another piece [I treasure] — I have this thing with beds. I even have some in storage. Oh, and there’s a nondescript garden table that’s finally outside, which I traveled with from LA, believe it or not.
I also have a sofa that I traveled with since I lived in LA more than 20 years ago, but it has had so many reincarnations in fabrics.
Do you do all your decorating and interior design yourself?
I like to do it all myself but I always ask people whose taste I admire to give their very honest opinions. I remember I couldn’t figure out the positioning of the sofas in this house, which is smaller than my old apartment. So, I had to put things in storage or move them to the country house. So, I got two friends who came in and said, ‘Get rid of this’ and ‘Put that there.’ And that’s how it is now.
Talk to me about your personal style and how that transcends into your home design and decor.
I honestly don’t know if it does! My personal style is not as colorful as my home. My house is a lot of color. I love mixing fabrics, which is something I do in my home but not in my personal dressing. I don’t know if the two have anything to do with each other. However, when people come over to my house, they look at my decor and say, ‘Oh, it’s so you.’ So, I don’t really know what that means. I guess I’ve been consistent through different spaces.
What is your favorite room or space in your home?
My garden is my absolute favorite space in the whole house. But I also love my room because it has great views of the garden. I also love the library/TV room, where we all hang out a lot.
Did your childhood home have any influence on how you created your own space as you grew into adulthood?
I think aesthetically, yes, definitely. I remember my mother always cutting flowers, and I always have to have fresh flowers, as well. I remember red being a prominent color [in my childhood home] and now I like to have things with red in them. But I think [my current home] is more relaxed — it’s a different generation. My parents home is super cozy, but I didn’t bring the constant crowds of friends that my children bring.
Tell me about the designers and stores you love to shop for decor and furniture?
I shop at El Rastro, which is a sort of flea market, and you just know where to go. There are certain decorators I love who have studios and sell wonderful things, like fabric. I’m a fabric fanatic, so I have tons and tons of swatches that I’ve had for a long time. Also, every so often, I’ll get something made. I needed a table for the dining room and I had it made with metal, which I haven’t gotten yet. Sometimes, I’ll have these ideas that I draw up with somebody and have it made.
I know you were very attached to your previous apartment. Did you do anything differently design-wise when you moved into this home?
Well, my house is smaller with lower ceilings — I used to have four-meter-tall ceilings. I lived on the fifth floor, so the space was full of light. This is a house, and it’s a cozier environment, everything is smaller. I still used all my favorite fabrics that I still love, but I had to edit a lot and get rid of things that didn’t fit.
What kinds of fabrics resonate with you and your style?
I’m a big stripe person. So, I always go to this English designer Ian Mankin, who has all the ticking. They look like old mattress ticking in all different widths. I love suzani style fabric with all the colors and the Turkish style, too. I’m not big on silks or velvets, but I love cotton. So, usually, everything will be done in cotton fabrics. And I don’t mind mixing stripes with maybe a pattern or suzani or just like a bold color.
How would you describe the aesthetic of your home?
I would call it eclectic with no tchotchkes. I don’t have a million things everywhere. You know what’s one thing I don’t have? Photographs. All my photographs are in rooms and I like to pin them to fabric so I an change them and rotate them. I’m not big on frames. I don’t like frames on cables and things like that. I know that’s a weird thing.
Did the past year indoors change your perspective on decor or design at all?
For me, I was lucky enough to have this house with an outdoor space, so I instantly prioritized that rather than the indoor space. I worked a lot in the garden last year. [The time indoors] also helped me sort of ‘try out’ every room. I realized I was very happy waking up in my bedroom and spending time in the TV/family room. Being on the brink of confinement sort of validated all the different spaces in this new home. Also, the one thing I bought during that time was a ping-pong table.
What do you grow in your garden?
I have fruit. I have granadas [pomegranates]. Strawberries. I have nispero [loquat], madroño, which is another type of strawberry tree. And then I have flowers, pothos, a pear tree, a little apple tree. Everything is tiny! It sounds like a wild, huge garden, but it’s a city garden. I also have a beautiful maple tree and lots of jasmine. Everywhere should smell delicious all the time.