Today, we’re thrilled to feature an interview with entrepreneur, style icon and mother India Hicks. India Hicks lives on Harbour Island with her family, where she runs her business, blogs and enjoys the beauty of her Caribbean island home. India recently collaborated with Pottery Barn on a photo shoot featuring her office, and while we were there, she gave us an insider’s peek at tropical living, office must-haves and why she loves Pottery Barn furniture. You can also learn more about India Hicks in our Design Love post!
How would you describe your style?
“I would describe it as modern classic.”
What do you find inspiring about living on Harbour Island?
“I find it continuously inspiring. There’s never a day that goes by that I don’t find something new to look at and something to be inspired by. I think that’s because we’re so dominated by nature. There’s the sea around us, the sand we stand on, the sky above us, the trees that shade us — everything has a natural take and so much of the way we’ve designed has been about bringing that nature into the design.”
What are your guidelines for decorating in a tropical environment?
“We try to take all of the harsher elements out. When we moved into our home when we first arrived on the island we took out the glass, the cement and the tile and we replaced those with the softer elements of wood and paper and straw, for instance. We laid down very long, quite dramatic floorboards in our sitting and dining rooms, which immediately dated the house and gave it a real tropical atmosphere. We do very obvious tropical decorating moments such as overhead fans, mosquito netting and dark-stained four-poster beds. These are all things that are very distinctive to an island style. We tried very hard to make it look like our house was made in the 1880s rather than the 1980s and I think that that’s achieved by having a very West Indian plantation feel to it.”
What colors do you gravitate towards?
“We always say that because of the kaleidoscope of colors on the outside when you’re living on an island, on the inside we try to have a more neutral, calm palate. But we also say that rules are made to be broken. For instance, our staircase leading upstairs is painted in a bright hibiscus pink. And really what I recognize is that it’s shocks of color we have. We don’t go for bold massive color, but there are little shocks here and there to keep you on your toes.
Clearly having been brought up as the daughter of David Hicks, who was all about vibrating color schemes, I do have that in my DNA. But again, because there is so much color on the outside, we did tend to paint our walls a soft dove gray and then we brought in a shocking pink sofa for instance, so the room isn’t totally dominated by color.”
When you did your office photo shoot, you brought in items that were significant to you. What were the pieces that gave the room a lot of personality?
“We brought in our collection of straw hats, because I love the idea of bringing texture in. The hats are very tropical. We call them our lending library and whenever we have guests come and stay we have a shelf where these hats live in amongst our library. And the guests will help themselves to one and wear them while they’re here. The hats, I think, do two things: setting the island element and bringing that lovely texture in.”
Can you tell us about the shocks of color you used in the office and how they helped the design?
“I do feel that those shocks of color were important. Again we have the shocks of color such as the red photograph albums. I’m a huge scrapbook person, so there are a lot of lovely red albums from a wonderful stationery company called Smythson. And we have a shocking pink umbrella that we brought back when we were in India. And we have Anish Kapoor’s painting on the wall, which is all chocolate brown with a deep pink center to it. And we have a big vase of bougainvillea. It’s the whole story of the color, the texture, the hints of island life there, the whole feeliing that it is very personal, it’s quite emotional, but again it is a work atmosphere.”
What defines a home office for you? What are your office essentials?
“It’s quite difficult because you have to have a good balance in a work environment where you’re very focused and there aren’t huge distractions. The greater part of my life is now spent in an office. I’ll sometime come up here at 8 in the morning and leave here at 8 in the evening. Because it’s a home office you want to have a very personal feeling, and thank goodness we’re able to have that personal feeling around us. I think it’s important to have, for instance, a vase of flowers, or a palm frond or something that makes you feel there’s something living in the room, that there is a natural element in there. My desk I designed by myself, incredibly simple with that dark-stained wood, that a local carpenter put together for me. It’s very practical and useful yet it doesn’t have a sterile, cold feel to it. I have a bookcase that I designed that could be considered a cabinet of curiosities. I have my scrapbooks in there and large shells, reference books, design books so again there are all elements of my life there, but they are all neat and orderly at the same time.”
You outfit your guesthouses with PB products. What products and why?
“We have two Pottery Barn sofas. You need very practical pieces of furniture that can be reupholstered very easily. They’re very useful for people that have a lot of dogs and children and a thoroughfare of activity and that’s very much the way we live our lives. I don’t find that the Pottery Barn pieces are very precious and I mean that in the most complimentary of ways. They’re sturdy, good home living pieces.”
What do you find personally more important about decorating a family home?
“We’re very lucky in the fact that we have space. We have a relatively grown up sitting room where we have objects laid out and good paintings on the wall and then there’s a kid room where they have their own environment where they can be kids. And yet at the same time I want my kids with me in the sitting room as well so we don’t buy objects of huge wealth that could break or be mishandled by small fingers. At the same time we want our children to grow up surrounded by a nice environment and good-looking stuff so again it’s finding that balance where a child knows that it’s more of a looking than a touching room but doesn’t feel intimidated by the environment.”
What Harbour Island foliage is your favorite for decorating?
“I would always go for a green palm frond. They last a long time they’re in abundance outside so they’re completely inexpensive and I think that their neutral texture is quite calming. I like bringing the outside in. The pink bougainvillea was just for a little bit of fun and to get that shock of color in.”