Clare Watson of Turmeric House shares her home styling secrets
Clare Watson is a stylist and curator, so if you imagine her home to be perfectly styled, you'd be right, but not in the way you might expect! There's no sense of stiff formality here, and while you might want to wander inside for hours, it doesn't feel at all like a showroom.
"I want my home to be warm, free and fully lived in," Clare told Mustard when we visited to shoot her eclectic, creative space. That's exactly what it is, filled to the brim with curiosities and treasures saved from previous projects and her travels. "I'm surrounded by things that hold creative memories," Clare says of her home. "Dried florals left over from a photoshoot, disco balls scattered and left from events, old theatre flats turned into artwork that are now backdrops on the walls themselves. I'm always looking for the next weird and wonderful thing." Here, she brings Mustard into her world, where creative flair is everywhere. And so are lockers, of course!
meet Turmeric House
Clare is the founder of Turmeric House, an independent creative studio based in Chobham Common outside of London. Like her aesthetic, her work is as surprising as it is varied. You might find her doing anything from styling up a field for a secret wild supper, directing the styling for a glossy mag shoot with a celebrity couple or creating a visual feast for a special event. Above all, she uses styling to evoke a mood or a feeling, and that same intention is evident in her home.
"I tell visual stories for a living," Clare tells us, "so I always love to be surrounded by things that inspire me." In fact, that's what initially drew her to her home. "We live in the middle of the common and I could watch its natural raw beauty ebb and flow for hours or just listen to the sounds. It's a little off the map in the wild outdoors, just as we like it. We love adventure, and I'm a sucker for an old house, authentic history, and some raw natural features."
Clare styles a Skinny and a Twinny in Slate to make her own custom triple locker
Clare's home doubles as a creative base, too. "The space itself we have re-imagined as a shoot and event space for supper clubs, creative sessions and a location house. It's constantly evolving, but home is where it all begins and I'm thankful for my space."
"A space is never just four walls — it's like a scrapbook of all my travels and adventures."
pieces to treasure
Ask Clare to name her favourite pieces in the home and you've set her an impossible task! "Oh gosh, I have so many favourites collected along the ride. I have these basket sculptures made of natural palm leaves, hand-woven by artisans from Tlamacazapa, Guerrero – Mexico.
I love artwork and will forever collect it. I've always been drawn to graffiti too and used to paint murals and design graphics on wooden surfboards when I lived in Australia. On a recent adventure and sourcing trip to Berlin, we went to see an incredible interactive installation, an expressive light and sound live performance. In the wee hours, we wandered across a bridge covered in posters for the show hanging off the side of the bridge. We took a few home, some with added graffiti which I have framed and utterly love."
Clare never met a disco ball she didn't adore. "We sourced a mixed selection of 48 disco balls to hang from trees and to line pathways at a beautiful, whimsical event fusing music, light and dancing under the stars. The light bouncing off the balls onto the trees and water was incredible!"
the art of living
If there's one thing Clare knows how to do, it's live well. "There's always music, painting, gardening, many fabrics, picnics and more," she tells us of her day-to-day. "My world is made up of powerful emotions and delicate pleasures, art and the art of living. It's constantly changing, a mood board and backdrop to projects. A space is never just four walls — it's like a scrapbook of all my travels and adventures."
"I feel so much room to create when surrounded by so much life right in my backyard," Clare says. That's why her favourite thing to do at home is to sit around the fire pit at the back of the garden with "tea, good music, friends or my sister and her guitar, nattering about the world and watching the deer and horses."
Clare has a confession to make: "Ok, I'll come clean — I'm a locker nut! It's how me, Jess and Becca initially met, through a Facebook listing for some lockers they were selling after a trade show. We've been friends ever since. For me, Mustard Made lockers are so much more than a beautiful, functional interior piece. It's being part of an incredible creative community." As for picking a favourite, she admits she loves The Midi for creating a break in a space, although The Lowdown can't be beaten on versatility. "It could be a TV cabinet or fit either side of the fireplace. We've replaced an ottoman at the end of a bed with a Lowdown topped with custom check cushions which we love."
"Humans of all ages are wired to crave creativity."
how to style
We couldn't speak to a stylist as talented as Clare and not ask for her top tips! "Every home, every space, is about bringing joy and working for you," she tells us. "Buy those random things you love! If you look at it and it brings a smile or a memory, get it on the wall. If you're on holiday or adventuring, bring it back, collect a scrapbook of your life! We're all searching for a feeling, an emotion or a fix — it gives us a release of that happy juice that reaches every nerve in our bodies."
Her best advice is to use the senses. "What can you smell, what can you see, what can you feel?" The most important question when planning a space is: "How do you want to feel in this space? You're creating a moment, an environment to be enjoyed." Above all, think of styling as playing. "Humans of all ages are wired to crave creativity and, when recreational spaces are designed right, they enable us to engage in activities that stimulate the intellect and keep our minds fit."
a taste of Turmeric
From Mustard to Turmeric, we simply had to ask: what was the inspiration behind the name Turmeric House? "My grandad was born in Poona, India and there has always been ties to that beautiful country," Clare explains, "with family visits and later on a lot of sourcing. It's one place where all your senses are in use, on overload all the time in the best possible way. The colour, every colour, the sounds, the heat, the spice in the air as well as the dust, the warmth, the wild dogs."
"Whilst shaping boards and creating designs from an old beach shack in Noosa, I would dream of the stories my grandad would tell me. Stories about the creation of print presses, the Indian Raj, the love, the adventures. Turmeric, golden milk, represented this amazingly bright force and literally holds memories for me. It captures health and lifestyle, so turmeric it was to capture moments and house to hold a number of different skills under one roof."
thanks for the memories
Memories are really what it's all about for Clare. She weaves them into her styling, she gifts lasting experiences to others through her events, like threads into fabric. "From family dress-up times and fairy tales – things that were once lost and forgotten, now together again. We wanted our space to embody the dance of light, texture and raw emotion."
If there's one thing that's guaranteed when you step into a space Clare has styled, it's this: it'll make you feel something.
Want to take a leaf out of Clare's book? She's shared some of her favourite sources of inspiration below:
The beautiful photography is by Megan Taylor.