Editor, ELLE Decoration
Ben’s avid interest in contemporary design has led to a career spanning over two decades in the world of fashion, lifestyle and interiors. He has spent much of the past 11 years driving the ELLE Decoration brand as Editor in Chief. Ben will discuss how he created a home environment as calm as possible over the past year to combat everyday stress and strain and ensure his relaxed sleeping area helped him to wake up feeling refreshed.
Where is the craziest place you’ve slept?
One of the strangest places I’ve ever slept is on a boat in the Arctic Circle. I was on a very speedy two-day trip to Tromsø, in the north of Norway in the middle of summer. At that time of year that area is referred to as the land of the midnight sun, as it never gets dark. It was so surreal trying to sleep while the sun was so high in the sky.
What bedroom trends never seem to change?
The desire for comfort is universal and whatever changes according to trends and style, this is still the main focus. Crisp white bedlinen also never seems to go out of fashion. Get the thread-count right and it’s the ultimate.
Design wise, what makes a bedroom more inviting?
There are so many things you can do to make a bedroom inviting. Key elements for me are colour – painting the walls a soothing shade and adding textiles in calm tones can transform a space into somewhere you won’t want to leave. Lighting also has a massive impact. Install dimmer switches if you can so you can really alter the amount of light in the room at different times of the day. Low level illumination at bedtime will make the room so enticing.
Which hotel, B&B or luxury retreat would you most like to visit or revisit and why?
In my past I spent some time working at Claridge’s and was lucky enough to stay a few times. It really is the best hotel in the world with service that’s off the scale and a sense of old-world glamour that’s hard to match. A highlight a little further afield was The Post Ranch Inn in California’s Big Sur with its luxury cliff-top cabins high above the Pacific where you can see whales swimming below. I would go back in a flash.
Where have you had the best night’s sleep?
My parents live in a remote farmhouse in south-west France. It’s my sanctuary, the place I go to get away from it all, to rest and reset. It’s so quiet and has the biggest star-filled skies I’ve ever seen and because I associate it with family and calm that’s definitely where I sleep the best.
Tell us about your own bedroom?
As I’m obsessed with Italian design I have a bed by an Italian brand called Bolzan. Super contemporary, it has a Kvadrat plum fabric-covered metal frame, which incorporates an inclined headboard. The king-size mattress sits on top of the platform and I love that it’s really firm. I’m not a fan of squishy beds. I have bedside tables from The Conran Shop and clever lights from the mattress company Casper – you can set them to dim as you fall asleep and wake you by coming on in the morning all via an app.
What gets you up in the morning?
At the moment predominantly it’s sunshine. I love getting up early and often leave the blinds up so I can wake as the sun rises. I’m also a huge fan of that first morning cup of coffee and the thought of heading to the gym, which I do most mornings…
What helps you sleep at night?
I’m a sucker for a good pillow mist, something with lavender oil in. I also try and read before bed, but I’m usually so exhausted I only manage a page or two before my head starts to nod. I also like to listen to classical music as I drift off. Composer Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel is the most relaxing composition and makes me so chilled.
How do you help overnight guests feel welcome in your home?
I think it’s always a nice touch to give guests that hotel-at-home experience, so I’ll always provide slippers and robes for them with a basket of toiletries and set up a refreshment tray in the room so they can have a little independence.
What luxury item would you take on a desert island?
So it probably defeats the object of being on a desert island, but I’d have to take my iPhone and a solar-powered charger of course. I couldn’t survive without it and when you think of all the things you can use it for, it sort of makes sense!
How would you best describe your interior style?
So it’s very ELLE Decoration I suppose. Contemporary, urban and luxe with some eclectic touches thrown in. It’s all about the juxtaposition so it definitely involves mixing design classics with some family heirlooms and cutting-edge pieces. I’ve always had a very monochrome palette throughout my home, but lately I’ve been introducing more colour.
How did you get into interior design and what do you love about it?
I actually started working in fashion, but was always obsessive about interiors and design so quickly moved across to work in that world instead. The people are a lot nicer to be honest! I love that interiors can be the truest reflection of who you really are. If you invite people into your home it has to represent your style, your taste, your personality. There’s such creativity, innovation and originality in this industry. It’s invigorating to be part of it.
Which room in your house is your favourite?
The bedroom of course… It’s where all the best things happen… Long lie-ins, breakfast in bed, pillow fights…
What do you think will be the next big bedroom trend?
Flexibility! Post-lockdown with us all having been confined to our homes for so long, I think all rooms have somewhat lost their traditional functions. You can end up working, studying, exercising, relaxing, entertaining in any area of your home. So I think bedrooms will increasingly be spaces that adapt to how they need to be used. This is bound to have an impact on the furniture we use in them and how they’re decorated. We’re already seeing lots of curtain dividers and screens used so spaces can be divided up for multiple uses. For this reason, I’m also predicting a return to four-poster beds, which can be sectioned off like a room within a room.
What tip would you give someone who wants to transform their bedroom space?
Think about what makes you feel really calm, whether that’s a colour, a painting, a piece of furniture that you own. Use that as the starting point for how you approach the space. I’d also advise switching around the configuration of the furniture in your room. It may sound crazy, but doing something radical like moving the bed to the middle of the room or facing it in a different direction can create a totally new perspective.