20 QUESTIONS, 9 CREATIVES
New York based stylist: Hilary Robertson
interior stylist, art director, set designer, image creator, author, editor, compulsive rearranger, curator of treasures, trend-setter, effortless style legend.
Hilary Robertson is one of my favourite interior stylists. An English creative who left the seaside town of Hastings, 13 years ago, for the bright lights of Brooklyn, with her husband and now teenage son. I remember clearly seeing her New York home on the cover of Livingetc and falling in love with her look - no surprise that brands and creative houses think the same - she is in high demand for her creative eye and ability to create magic with spaces, places and objects. Her work has graced the covers and pages of the leading interior publications and if you know her work you will recognise her signature style and aspirational aesthetics. There are stylists and then are STYLISTS - Hilary falls into the camp of those with an effortless ability to create standout images that sell the dream: a creator whose work involves flying around the world, finding the location, creating the set, styling the look and art directing the finished piece. She is also quietly a really talented photographer - and in these days of lockdown, brands have called on her to help them out, shooting content from her Connecticut country home. Hilary was set on her career path from the word go - redecorating her own bedroom at the age of 8, then realising that she could make a career out of her passion. Editorial styling followed for Metropolitan Home, then freelancing for Elle, The Times, Livingetc and House & Garden, plus many leading brands - Crate & Barrel, West Elm, Ochre, Bloomingdales, Harrods, Swarovski, Sunbrella, Zoffany, Elle Decoration, Vogue Living, Town and Country, to name a few. She has worked as Creative Director for Canvas and last year began working with Bloomist (another inspirational start-up story I look forward to sharing) on a range of her own designs - think chunky white and black marble chains and elegant faux blooms. She has also produced 5 books for Rizzoli and Ryland Peters and Small (yes she can write too): Monochrome Home is one of my favourites - beautifully curated images and words that I have returned to many times. To say this lady is an inspiration is an understatement - she is a great example of what excellence should look like and one that will fire up your imagination.
How has your home evolved during lockdown? We left NYC for our weekend place in CT as we knew we might need the space - we have 4 acres here, as opposed to an overgrown postage stamp of a garden in Brooklyn. It’s been really helpful for us to spend more time here as we are trying to finish our renovation.
How has your work had to adapt? All my shoots have been postponed. I was in the middle of shooting a new book (Nomad at Home, to be published in Spring 2021). I had to cancel shoots in California and Mexico. At the moment I’m not sure when I’ll be able to reschedule or if I will have to change far flung locations for domestic ones. I have been trying to get ahead with writing the text. Otherwise Zoom meetings.
What projects have you been dreaming up? My 1800 schoolhouse has beautiful light and is a fantastic place to shoot, so brands that I work with have been sending me products to shoot here. I have a garden full of spring blossom which also helps! And I ran a still life competition with @mybloomist (I design accessories for this sustainable startup).
How has your neighbourhood come together? I live in the middle of nowhere so we don’t see anyone other than the postman and Fedex driver.
Acts of kindness - to you / by you? We brought friends here to ‘quarantine’ with us (as they have a tiny NYC apartment). We call it ‘the Commune’. It’s easier for the two ‘only’ children to be together, so it’s beneficial to both families!
Favourite space in the house to escape to? It’s been rather chilly so working on a daybed by the wood-burner has become my spot.
Jobs in the house ticked off the list? Ugh! So many jobs still to go! I bought a new bed frame for the guest room and a great new mattress for our bedroom. We had just installed a new kitchen so we’ve been trying to organise the drawers - a work in progress. My husband and our co-quarantiner, Johnny Fego have made a huge, much improved veg patch.
New daily rituals? I bought a Giant electric bike - I had been eyeing it because it’s very hilly here. A late afternoon cycle or walk with my husband has become an almost daily thing when it’s not raining.
Early morning fitness or another biscuit please? A very quick hula hoop session in the garden, or a little stretching on my yoga mat by the fire. I had more ambitious exercise plans but they evaporated.
What’s in your vase? Making flower arrangements with whatever I can forage from the garden is one of my favourite daily rituals. At one point I was bringing in huge magnolia branches everyday; now it’s Bleeding Hearts, Hellebores and branches of my Stewartia trees. I post these arrangements to Instagram as a way of marking time.
What’s on the menu? There are 3 decent cooks here so we’ve eaten ridiculously well. For the first 4 weeks I really enjoyed the endless cooking, but now I’m getting a bit jaded… and chubby. I make lots of healthy soups or Dahl, while the men marinate great hunks of meat and cook them outside on the BBQ.
Favourite tipple to get you through?
A G&T brought to me by my husband at 6pm.
What book is on your bedside?
I’m reading The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild.
What tunes are playing?
Last night it was Carleen Anderson.
News updates or podcasts? Both. I can’t deal with too much Covid news, so podcasts or historical dramas on Radio 4 - I love the serialisation of Persuasion, The Mirror and the Light.
Which IG accounts have inspired you? I love the seeing ceramic artist @simonebodmerturner post new pieces, my very funny friend Peter Cock’s posts from his pretend pub in his house @privatewiddle, seeing the progress of @leannefordinteriors renovation of her LA cabin, and I did an art class with @aeandstudio which was fun and @waynepate is prolific and inspiring.
What have you missed the most? My girlfriends and being on shoots.
What distractions are getting you through? Playing with my house, getting to spend lots of time with my teenager, being surrounded by nature, taking photographs.
Zoom backview? I think anyone over 45 is probably trying to find the most flattering lighting, so wherever that is. Laughing.
What has your home meant to you over this time? Shelter from the storm.