A triumph of creativity

The decorator Michael Inchbald wasn’t David Hicks. Hicks turned himself into an international brand. Although Inchbald’s name was given to the Inchbald School of Design, that institution has always been run by his first wife, Jacqueline Duncan. Inchbald’s canvas was provided by the meeting places of the rich-homes, hotels, liners, Buckingham Palace.

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A glimpse into his world was given at Christie’s last week, when Peter York spoke about his own home, Stanley House in Knightsbridge, the contents of which were going under the hammer. Inchbald had inherited the house, built in the mid 19th century, from an uncle and decorated it in the late 1950s. What a pep it must have given London in that grimy, unglamorous era.

Stanley House had swank. Made Regency, the façade was painted apricot. A row of black obelisks stood in the porch, their number repeated to infinity by judiciously placed mirrors. Inside, colour exploded from the walls. Exotic effects were achieved with silvered wallpaper. The furniture was sumptuously French. Each room was a surprise. Last week’s sale realised more than £3 million, but money wasn’t the key to this palace of delights. The Georgian front door was bought at Christie’s for £12. What appeared to be marble was often ingeniously cut lino. Theatrical draperies added flourish at little cost. After half a century, the genius of it seemed as fresh as ever.

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