Interiors: A Strong Palette Miranda Rhys Williams Is as Flamboyant as Her Grandmother, Elinor Glyn , the Novelist Who Coined the Phrase `It Girl'. Emma Marshall Finds a Home with a Personality as Forceful as Its Owner's
Marshall, Emma, The Independent (London, England)
"GOOD THINGS come to those who wait" has to be one of the most annoying proverbs. But in the case of Miranda Rhys Williams and her beautiful west London home, it has proved annoyingly true.
Having searched for her ideal flat for two years (she was insistent about having "loads of light, ample space and one dramatic party room"), Miranda finally settled on the 80th property she saw: an elegant apartment with soaring ceilings and polished parquet floors. Even then, there were so many complications with the lease that her lawyer advised her to withdraw from the sale. It took a further six months before circumstances were more propitious and she was able to secure the property. "I would far rather wait than settle for mediocrity," she declares, "and I know instantly and instinctively whether or not I like something."
She has applied the same rules to the interior decoration, so it is no wonder that it has taken five years to get it just right. She spent three years, for example, searching for a mirror to go above the mantelpiece in the living-room. The one there now "was the only ornate design that was not embellished with prissy bows and little flowers". And the extraordinary gilded oak dining table ("the table of my dreams") was commissioned from designer Orianna Fielding Banks. It is irregular in shape (so that an absent guest will go un- noticed) and large enough to seat 18 (essential for the huge dinner parties that Miranda loves to host). The flat itself is in the sort of smart but nondescript street of red- brick Victorian terraces that strangers would describe as dull, but which those au fait with postal code prestige would term "highly desirable". Miranda says she likes the area because it reminds her of Brussels, a city where she used to work in development aid and emerging market finance for the European Commission. The unremarkable architecture belies the opulence of the interior, which feels more like a 19th-century boudoir than a flat belonging to a young Nineties professional. Brilliant jewel-like colours - emeralds, purples and cherry reds - saturate the walls, and gold glitters on the ceilings. Her late father, the politician Brandon Rhys Williams, seems to have shared her taste for brilliant colours. An avid adherent to Goethe's Theory of Colour, he always insisted on bright orange carpets downstairs ("although he didn't always get his way"). "My childhood home was a Sixties, swirly heaven," she smiles. Her father indirectly influenced almost every room in the flat. He encouraged his youngest daughter to share his delight in the sky's kaleidoscopic colours and the kitchen (definitely not for the faint- hearted) is an attempt at reproducing a particular dawn sky in all its orange and pink glory. "My father was incredibly energetic and inexhaustibly knowledgeable," Miranda says, remembering a childhood trip to Italy. "He would take us on tours of every church and hamlet, no matter how small, pointing out paintings and frescoes or his favourite madonna". Her decision to paint the upstairs ceiling gold, and paint those rooms blue and pink, was inspired directly by Fra Angelico's angels. Other relations have played their part in fashioning Miranda's tastes. Her grandmother, with whom Miranda feels great affinity, was Elinor Glyn, the flamboyant novelist who coined the phrase "It girl" and scandalised Edwardian society with her best-seller Three Weeks, in which a mystical beauty seduces a young English aristocrat on a tiger skin. The book led to the popular refrain, "How would you like to sin/With Elinor Glyn on a tiger skin" and today the said tiger skin, a gift to Elinor from Lord Curzon, sprawls upstairs …
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Publication information: Article title: Interiors: A Strong Palette Miranda Rhys Williams Is as Flamboyant as Her Grandmother, Elinor Glyn , the Novelist Who Coined the Phrase `It Girl'. Emma Marshall Finds a Home with a Personality as Forceful as Its Owner's. Contributors: Marshall, Emma - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: June 27, 1999. Page number: 46. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.