x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

'Home is a work in progress'

Home in the life of Allegra Hicks is an interiors and fashion designer renowned for her innovative use of prints and patterns, and her signature kaftans.

Allegra Hicks's home in Chelsea reflects her modern and flexible design style.
Allegra Hicks's home in Chelsea reflects her modern and flexible design style.

Allegra Hicks is an interiors and fashion designer renowned for her innovative use of prints and patterns, and her signature kaftans. She lives in London with her family.

Until 18, I lived in Turin in a glass house inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. I then lived in Milan and Brussels where I studied design and fine art, and then moved backwards and forwards between New York and London for several years before settling in London, where I live now.

I don't find moving house stimulating at all. I think it can be one of the most traumatic things you can do. I like to travel so I like to have something to come home to. And when you move a lot I think you have to, you know, decorate in a minute to quickly create a home. Personally I always want to have something ready to return to as a home. That's very important to me.

I've lived in my present house for 16 years, which is the longest I've lived anywhere other than in my parents' house in Turin. Of course, as my childhood home, my parents' house has very strong memories, which as an adult I cherish. I think that childhood memories are more rooted in fantasy than reality but are no less strong for that. In my current house I have strong, wonderful memories of coming home with my first child. We still had builders everywhere when I arrived back - I had to hide in the loo to breastfeed! They're such different memories but I'm equally fond of both houses.

Oh, I think that what's inside my house is far more important than its external setting. I believe that you don't live in an address - you live in a home. What attracted you to your current home? When we first saw it, I was nine months pregnant, and my husband and I had seen 70 houses already. They all looked the same. It was very boring. So we saw this one and liked it, and I just said, right - that's it! It also needed to be redone which was an attraction.

We changed the cornices, the floors and several rooms in different ways but we didn't make any structural changes. As my husband Ashley is an architect I tend to leave the bigger, more fundamental adjustments to him and I look after the soft furnishings.

Ha! I go through phases. Sometimes I am the biggest collector in the world. Really I am a major collector at heart, especially when I am working. But if I spend time at home I begin to declutter. Give me three days at home with the kids and I am soon a ruthless de-clutterer.

I think the décor and design of my house reflects my professional style a lot. I am known for my use of patterns and prints, and my informal, warm, modern style - I think that describes my style at home well, too. It emphasises the importance of being at ease with itself, and is flexible - it can change easily and smoothly. I am quite a hippy whereas Ashley is much more of a purist. We do differ sometimes but we usually manage to resolve it through compromise.

A huge piece of coral given to me by my husband about 10 years ago.

Our library; it's very small and very cosy. It's perfect for watching films in or, of course, for just reading and sitting quietly.

The stairs. We have five floors, so if I forget something in the morning as I'm about to leave the house I have to make quite a journey back to get it.

My home is a haven to think and be creative but it's not a showcase. It's a work in progress, too. I like to change it, though all change is best when it comes organically. For me, it has a lot to do with unpretentiousness and letting things be as they are. Being at home and sipping green tea and listening to music from my iPod always makes me feel especially happy.

Luxury at home is about possessing a certain ease. If I could compare it to clothes, it is a kaftan: simple, elegant and comfortable and without any constraints.

I think I'd like to live in the countryside in the south of Italy. This year I went to Sicily for the first time and now I have this idea about living there. It's a fantasy, of course, so I don't know how it would really be - I have not lived in Italy as an adult so I have a very romantic idea of it!

Ah, no, no, no. I am much more of the theory that it is better not to have regrets - anywhere in life and that includes my house. * Emily Davies