Interiors and fashion have never gone more hand in glamorous glove than now. Stylists and influencers share the ubiquitous mirror selfies and what happens? It’s not just the outfit of the day (#OOTD) that their Instagram followers are eyeballing and commenting on but also their actual wardrobes — as well as every other stick of furniture in the frame.
Yes, the backdrop has become the star.
For Munster fashion stylist Chloe Markham, the progression has been seamless. “I think fashion and interiors can very often go hand in hand as both require a strong judgement when deciding on what colours, patterns and prints work well together — the use of various fabrics, when something is too much or when it isn’t enough,” she says.
“I work as a fashion stylist and creative director but interiors have naturally become part of my business also.”
It all came home to roost for Chloe literally when she and her husband Bertie moved back to their native County Limerick from London, in December 2018 and set to work renovating a 230-year-old house on his family farm, near Newcastlewest. “It was always the end goal as he comes from a farming family and this is where our future would be,” says Chloe.
“As we did a lot of the work ourselves it was tiring at times — sometimes work was slow — but looking back now it all went pretty quickly, I was just eager and excited to move in and start decorating as soon as possible. But any fashion and glamour went out the window during the renovation stages which I documented in my highlights on my Instagram page, Chloe Markham Stylist.”
And those Insta snaps and stories also started to open doors careerwise as the duo completed the renovation in just five months (from May to October 2019). Pleas flew in thick and fast to Chloe from her clients to help them with décor as well as their dress sense. “It was both flattering and very exciting for me to be able to carry on my love for interiors beyond my own home,” she says.
Back to Chloe and Bertie’s own interior: Their time living in London meant they wanted to infuse their rural pad with a city feel. As a long-time fan of the television series, Chloe was keen to channel elements of Monica’s iconic loft apartment (“I loved the large warehouse-style window and balcony”).
“London, of course, influenced this also so we wanted to incorporate that feel whilst still having a cosy space. That balance was important to us. We tried to mix industrial with boho and hygge characteristics at the same time.”
Her in-laws’ home nearby is, by contrast, says Chloe, “a perfect example of modern country — so we have two different styles but both on the same farm”.
Renovating their six-room home in five months on a budget means the couple are “beyond happy” with what they have created, says Chloe. “The house is over 200 years old so you can imagine a lot of work was needed to go into it. It was renovated in previous years but we received the house with the original low ceilings and small windows allowing minimal light.”
They then removed the galvanised outer sheeting, straw thatch, and finally three ceilings that had been installed throughout the history of the house. “In the thatched roof, we actually found a message in a bottle from the 1960s placed there by past relatives along with old newspapers from the 1970s which was something to cherish forever,” says Chloe.
They reroofed the entire house and infused the interior with natural light by installing 12 skylights. They also knocked the old 3m-thick chimney wall, gaining extra space for the living area. “Because we had lived in London for several years, we added a brick feature wall with original London brick to have a piece of London in our home,” says Chloe.
Sustainability is key to life for Chloe, whether it’s interiors or fashion. “Although my job suggests differently, I don’t have as many clothes and accessories you might imagine,” she says. “I am known to restyle and rewear items in different ways to create new looks and give the sense of a ‘new outfit’. I like to get the most out of my clothes and don’t like clutter. I try to keep my wardrobe organised as this is the key to utilising what you already have. I recently renovated my spare room into a dressing room/studio this has allowed me the organisation I always dreamed of.”
A fan of colour, she chose to paint most of her interiors white “as I knew this would allow me to inject so much colour through my accessories, furniture, and art”.
Chloe’s favourite spot is her built-in kitchen bench seat. “It allows me to admire the space if I’m working from home,” she says. Cue a post this week about that nook that elicits comments and enquiries about its styling and accessories that rival those of a movie star’s red-carpet look.