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April 2020 / Homes & Interiors / by Ali Howard

At home with: Aiveen Daly

It’s little wonder Aiveen’s elegant home is full of sumptuous textures. The London-based designer specialises in luxury textile interior commissions, and is known for her distinctive handcrafted work.

Photography by James Merrell

Daly’s four-bed Edwardian house is situated, she says, in “arguably the friendliest street in London”. She lives with husband Conrad and daughters Agnes and Valentina – as well as a soon to turn three cockapoo named Baci (“the girls have been planning her birthday for weeks!”). Like anyone with a penchant for period property, she fell in love with the high ceilings, noting “good light” on her list of non-negotiables. But for Aiveen, getting to know the people she shares her vicinity with is just as important. “I always go and knock on the door of the neighbours to introduce myself before buying a property,” she explains. “You get some good insights and it’s good to know who you are going to be sharing your street with.”

The family moved in five years ago but not before this truly ambitious renovation project was realised. “We gutted the entire house,” Aiveen says. “You could see right through three storeys into the loft from the ground floor. We had new plumbing, electrics, sash windows, everything! All of the original moulding had been ripped out but our lovely neighbours let us nose around so we could reinstate something similar to what was originally there. The good thing about starting from scratch is that everything works. We were also able to put in amazing insulation, which is transformative in so many ways.”

Aiveen studied traditional upholstery at London’s Met University where her love of fine craftsmanship was nurtured – her work typically features intricate beading, pleating and complex fabric manipulation techniques, whether that’s with pearls, silk or butter soft leather. Naturally, luxurious fabrics feature heavily in every room here: “I love using antique textiles as a starting point for colour,” she explains. “In our living room I had some 1920s Indian saris, which I mixed with a tobacco linen dusty blue, sage and soft pink. And I bring in a lot of pieces from my work. I like testing how they operate in a real life setting to make sure they stand the test of time.”

Aiveen Daly at home with

The use of fine fabrics brings an undeniable softness and homely warmth to Aiveen’s modern glamour aesthetic. And beyond the sumptuous curtains, cushions and pouffes, this soft touch can be found in unexpected places, too: large-scale artworks and furniture pieces protrude with tactile materials. Even Aiveen’s elegant sideboard is finished in a soft creamy leather. “Texture gives such warmth to a space,” she enthuses. “We’ve used tapestries, rugs and woven lampshades, as well as some of my sculptural suede wall hangings.”

With a passion for mixing old and new, the house, while finished to the nines, still looks lived in and loved, and much of that is thanks to Aiveen’s interiors shopping habits. She namechecks Hermès for fabric, Atelier Mériguet-Carrère for paint, Marrakech Design for tiles and Atelier Areti for lighting as her favourite brands. “But I also buy a lot of vintage and antique pieces from Kempton Market and abroad,” she reveals.

The look, it transpires, has grown organically, with Aiveen incorporating thoughtfully selected pieces over the years. “It’s been a very gradual, loving process,” she says. “We’re still adding artworks, ceramics from holidays in Italy… and I love getting family photographs printed. I don’t have particular schemes in my head but I do have a desire for a welcoming energy and calming colours.” While her creative eye for putting a room together is to be revered, her application is somewhat more relatable. “Whilst I admire the rigour and processes used by interior designers, my own home has been a series of fits and starts,” she admits. “I get obsessive for a while and then back off completely for several months. The house will never be finished but I guess that is part of the fun.”

So what does the year ahead hold for the upholsterer extraordinaire and her creative team? “We’re working on a lot of textile artistry commissions using hand painted leather and wire to sculpt shapes such as butterflies and flowers,” she says. “Other, more abstract commissions include pleated silk, lacquer and leather. We’re trying to focus on sustainability to see how we can use up small offcuts of leather, for example. And we’re trying to encourage clients to bring pieces to us to be luxe-cycled, where we add some of our beautiful embellishments to their existing furniture to reimagine it, rather than throwing it away or buying something new.”
(aiveendaly.com)