We’ve been very fortunate as Royal Watchers to have access to thousands of high-quality photos of Kate attending events and being able to identify details about her clothing or accessories, makeup or shoes. To say that we, as a Kate watching community, are able to identify things about the Duchess of Cambridge’s appearance quickly, accurately and reliably would be an understatement!
After the recent engagement that the Cambridges had with US President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at their Kensington Palace Apartment, the first since it has been renovated, we were thrilled to see that there would be photographs released of William, Kate and Harry (and George!) entertaining their guests. It gave us a rare, special glimpse into the home that Kate has obviously spent much time decorating and personalizing for her growing family to enjoy whilst they stay in London.
Today, we’re going to share some of the background on William & Catherine’s home, look at where Kate may have looked for inspiration (hint: another Princess!) and then boil down Kate’s decorating style into 10 easy tricks that you can incorporate into your décor so you can do what Kate would do and add some regal touches to your home.
First, let’s look at some basics about Apartment 1A.
Various reports have indicated that the Duchess drew interior decorating inspiration from Princess Mary of Denmark after visiting her home at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen. Kate and William were in Copenhagen in 2011.
The neutral, clean and modern palette chosen by Princess Mary was evident as Kate’s decorating was revealed through the Obama visit. The Duchess chose a neutral colour scheme mixed with both traditional and modern elements – like adding a $50,000 Persian Rug from the royal collection while throwing in a bird-motif platter from Zara. Much of Kensington Palace Apartment 1A’s original features were preserved during the Duke and Duchess’ refurbishment, but the entire building was updated. Kate reportedly did much of the design work herself, but did also work with home designers like Kelly Hoppen, who decorated Prince George’s nursery or Ben Pentreath, who helped redesign Anmer Hall.
What did we learn in the images released of Kensington Palace Apartment 1A? The family home now features comfortable, welcoming cream sofas covered with pretty floral cushions. Delicate and ornate gold console tables off to the side of the sitting area feature family photos from the family, while a stylish footstooll/ottoman looks comfortable enough for a small toddler to climb over – or at the very least leave his stuffed dog on! Also featuring prominently is a large floral statement bouquet, something necessary in any chic, contemporary home! You know that the apartment also smells fantastic as there are large scented 3-wick candles creating a casual, comfortable atmosphere.
So how can you – yes you, capture a bit of the magic of Kensington Palace in your home? By incorporating the rules that the Duchess of Cambridge, future Princess of Wales and Queen of England, used to decorate her home! By asking What Would Kate Do? we came up with 10 easy rules to add some Duchess Inspired Design to your Decor.
Decorate with the Duchess Tip #1 : Use Lamps To Create Ambiance
There were an abundance of lamps in almost every shot that was taken by the White House and Kensington Palace reporters. Take a look at the image above, where you can see six table lamps! The lamps add an ambiance to the room which an overhead light fixture wouldn’t be able to – and can be most likely dimmed or individual lamps turned off as the evening progressed and there was a need for less light. Of note for us was that the lamps are not all the same. They appear to be similar in style, color and size but are not identical. A great way to be able to mix-and-match without making a room look too formal.
Decorate with the Duchess Tip #2 : Incorporate Family Memories Through Photos
On all the side tables around the room in 1A, there are family photos displayed. Intrepid eagle eye photo spotters were able to identify photos of William taken at St. Andrews and older photos of the Duchess from engagements and family events. A house is meant to be a home, and a home something you share with those you love – something William and Kate have obviously taken to heart when showcasing memorable moments of their past. Given the public nature of this event and the purpose of these formal entertaining/reception rooms, we weren’t surprised to see a lack of personal photos of the children. However, seeing the amount of photos in this room, it is extremely likely a guest would find these images in the more private areas of the home.
Photo Frame Inspiration:
Decorate with the Duchess Tip #3 : Embrace Children’s Presence
After we recovered from the adorable sighting of Prince George, we noticed that two of his toys were present during the Obamas visit. A Rocking Horse, gifted to him by the First Couple upon his birth and a stuffed replica of Bo, their dog. Whether the toys were strategically placed photo props is another matter or discussion, but we like to think that William and Kate, as practical parents, realize that children’s toys will occasionally wind up even in the more formal areas of your home – after all, they are little people who live there! It’s refreshing and encouraging to see that Prince George was included in the visit and obviously a part of the home.
Decorate with the Duchess Tip #4 : Stock a Bar for Guests
Offering a guest a refreshment when they arrive to your home is often the first course for business – and undoubtedly something that Kate had planned for when we saw evidence of a home bar set up on a side table in the living room. Take a peek at the photo above, in the top left corner for a sneak peek at Will & Kate’s bar. Having a few basics on hand at all times is highly practical so you can accommodate any requests that your guests would like, but knowing ahead of time what your guests preferences are is the hallmark of an excellent hostess! Placing the alcohol stylishly on a table as Kate did also allows for yourself, your guests (or help) to access the options easily and create a stylish display.
Drink Table Inspiration:
Decorate with the Duchess Tip #5 : Ambiance is Everything
We definitely were not the only people who noticed the candles (3 wick, in a clear votive) that were present on the tables. Not only do they provide a glorious flicker to the lighting, but they also create a heavenly smell when they are properly used and not cheap, toxic smelling candles. Given Kate’s use of Kelly Hoppen in the interior design, we think that the candles are the 3-wick Scent Two from Kelly’s home line, or if not from another brand Kate has used in the past, Jo Malone? In any case, choose classic scents to lightly perfume a room, not overpower it. Trust us as well, once you have started perfuming your home with the more high-end candles, you won’t be able to go back! You can also see large floral bouquets in the room, undoubtedly fresh which also assuredly lightly scent the room. You can never go wrong with fresh flowers!
Decorate with the Duchess Tip #6 : Layer and Mix Patterns Like a Pro
The entire room we were privy to was carpeted in an oatmeal coloured carpet, but there was a large patterned rug positioned directly under the seating area, which provided a great way to centre the room around the area and make the area feel more comfortable. The Cambridges used a $50,000 Persian rug from the royal collection in their decor, and we saw Kate looking for pieces while out shopping on numerous trips during the refurbishment. Take your time and find the perfect piece is our advice. We also saw an abundance of pillows on the cream coloured sofas present in the photos. The pillows were all in different, but complementary colors and patterns. Try selecting one main accent color (for example, green in what looks to be velvet, like Kate did above) and then finding pillows incorporating that color in their design – like the floral pillows behind Kate. Start small!
Decorate with the Duchess Tip # 7 : Hang Curtains Properly
There is a proper – read : formal – way to style your curtains and the Duchess has mastered it! Are we surprised? Kate went to British fabric manufacturer Bernard Thorp & Co., to select fabric for the regal window coverings herself. She reportedly chose a herringbone pattern coming in at $240/metre and the curtains in this room are then perfectly tailored to sit just right against the floor. They are the perfect accessory to the large windows overlooking the private garden below. Real Simple has a great tutorial on how long curtains should be, and we like Kate’s just breaking length at the floor for a real royal touch.
Decorate with the Duchess Tip #8 : Showcase Favourite Books & Art
Kate chose a painting by Dutch artist Aelbert Cuyp titled “A Page With Two Horses” from the Royal Collection to add to her home. We also got to see various books showcased around the room, undoubtedly volumes of classics and modern favourites of the Royal couple. It’s important to choose pieces that are meaningful to you in your decor and showcase them. Perhaps this painting reminds Will and Kate of the country and their love of wildlife? Perhaps William’s fondness for horses through playing polo is evident in the choice? Whatever art or literature you showcase in your home, make it something personal and meaningful.
Decorate with the Duchess Tip #9 : Know What You Like
Kate apparently hates purple walls and has said that her favourite color is white. While her fashion choices might indicate otherwise, the walls in her home do not. The white, neutral walls are the perfect backdrop for the herringbone curtains and allow the gorgeous greenery from the garden to take centre stage or the paintings on the wall to catch your eye. Knowing that she wanted neutrals was assuredly something that came up early in the conversation about the renovation, and Kate stuck to her instincts! We also see lots of blue and white chinoiserie type patterns, something we also saw on the Naeem Khan dress Kate wore to the Taj Mahal – definitely thinking this is a pattern and motif she likes!
Blue & White Inspiration:
Decorate with the Duchess Tip #10 : Be Yourself!
There are small elements of Kate in so many aspects of this room – the children’s toys being allowed to have a spot in meetings with a world leader, a lucite clear table that houses candles, personalized selections of art from someone who studied art history… There is perhaps no better lesson here that being yourself in your decorating scheme, definitely what Kate would – and did – do. We are sure that from the moment that President and Mrs. Obama entered the Cambridge home, they felt welcomed, respected and like old friends. While the friendly, welcoming and engaging personalities of Prince William, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge was obviously first and foremost in accomplishing this, the gorgeous surroundings of the Cambridge family home undoubtedly helped the guests feel at ease and allow for a friendly and productive dinner. Which is what any home should do – reflect the owner and make everyone entering it feel happy to be there.
We hope that this helps you incorporate some Duchess Decor into your home. Here is a recap of some inspiration you can use in your decor! What are your favourite elements of the Duchess’s Kensington Palace apartment?
I love this article! I don’t have a chance to wear my repliKate pieces in my everyday life, so seeing her home and having some inspiration for my new house is so great. Now I have something I can apply to my life a little bit for a royal touch.
Thanks, Sloan! Had a great time researching and writing the article as well – stay tuned for more home decor!
I love this post! As an interior designer myself, I really enjoyed these glimpses into the Cambridges’ home, and I especially loved learning about the Duchess’ decor inspiration. My favorite thing about their “apartment” isn’t really one thing but the overall successful combination of history (all the fabulous antiques) with the personal effects of a young family (photos, toys, etc). It somehow manages to be both formal enough to host the President and First Lady yet completely comfortable and inviting. More interior design posts, please! 🙂
Thanks, Jennifer! It was so much fun to write. Will definitely keep the interior design posts coming!
Jennifer! As an interior designer, where would you point me in the direction of something similar (and not outrageously expensive, as I’m sure W&K’s was…) hexagonal (octagonal?) ottoman? I have been in love with it ever since these photos were released and cannot find anything even remotely similar in the US!
Jennifer Muirhead says
Hi Lisa! You could try searching Overstock and Wayfair to start, and if you have the time, scouring eBay and Craigslist can sometimes pay off in a big way. Happy hunting! ~ Jennifer
Thank you, Jennifer! 🙂