Jocelyn Humfrey speaks to Coralie Whittall about the influence of antiques and restoration on her interior design projects
Speaking with Jocelyn about her interior design career reveals her prevailing desire to create a sense of calm, comfort and harmony in every space she works in. Her enthusiasm for interiors and her passion for antiques are palpable. But perhaps equally important are the influences she derives from modern life and her considerate approach to mixing old with new so that a room is in sympathy with the architecture of a building.
"For as long as I can remember, architecture and interiors have been an abiding interest" she tells me. "I was fortunate to be brought up in several architecturally interesting houses and from a young age I organised the restoration of many of my parents' antiques."
Jocelyn was not always an interior designer by profession, although her enthusiasm for creating attractive and comfortable interiors has long remained her guiding light. She started her career working in an auction house, specialising in musical instruments. "It was while working with intricately made instruments that I developed a keen eye for detail and an appreciation of shape and form" she says. "It is that intimate knowledge of tiny differences that can transform the feel of a room."
Some years later, after working on a project to promote craftsmanship and a stint with a leading furniture restorer, an opportunity arose to source some pieces for a friend. "It all started over dinner in a beautiful Chateau in France", she explains. "I had a real vision for the Chateau and after enthusiastically suggesting a lighting scheme, I was then asked to find a four-poster bed. One thing led to another and that was how I started my interior design business JHT Interiors, which I have now been running for over 15 years."
Since her first commission in the French Chateau, Jocelyn has worked on a range of different projects from furnishing an entire Swiss chalet to designing the interior spaces in a historical family home in Notting Hill. She draws inspiration from an infinite variety of sources, from shapely musical instruments to the muted colours of the serene Swedish landscape and Baltic archipelago. "First and foremost I am influenced by the particular job in hand; the building I am working with and the client" she says. "But I always like to bring in new ideas and subtly weave in some of my own influences."
Each project provides varying challenges and rewards and Jocelyn is keen to explain that it is not necessarily the size of the project that makes it interesting, but rather the ability to use her creativity to reinvent a piece of furniture or update a vintage fabric, producing a cohesive and pleasing effect. "Every project requires a different thought process, a different approach. I enjoy the fact that each project works to a different side of my personality" she says.
Jocelyn is an avid buyer of antiques at auction and is on a permanent quest to find the perfect piece that will complement a room or indeed a garden. "I am always thinking of projects past, present and future" she tells me. "My absolute delight is to 'save' a piece of furniture destined for oblivion and to restore it to its former glory and ensure it is displayed in the perfect space."
Jocelyn is particularly drawn to lot 211, a pair of second quarter 20th century leather club armchairs, which are "perfect for ease and comfort"; lot 163, a pair of Regency style giltwood pier mirrors for style and light and lot 65, a pair of late 19th / early 20th century painted and giltwood crown finials, "to give a room an element of fun and an unusual twist."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com