The secrets of style

Regularly cited as one of the most stylish women in France, Ines de la Fressange shares her ideas on how to give your home a gorgeous story.

With her aristocratic bearing and endless legs, Inès de la Fressange has the sort of chic that money just can't buy. A model and the muse of Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel in the 1980s, she is now the ambassador for the French shoe brand Roger Vivier and recently won France's highest accolade, the Légion d'honneur, for her services to style.

But while Inès is best known for her fabulous fashion sense, her innate style translates just as well into interior decoration. She has fashioned the Roger Vivier headquarters in rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in a way that looks more maison than magasin, using furniture and paintings - including Picassos and Poliakoffs - from the late designer's home. Her own office-cum-sitting room in the building is a cosy den of gorgeousness, full of cherished possessions - a paradigm for the way she has decorated all of her homes over the years.

Inès has very definite ideas about decoration: she likes to mix everything up, making priceless antiques work alongside Ikea pieces, fabulous paintings alongside her children's drawings. She also loves to display beautiful possessions, letters and mementos. "It's good to dare, to have spontaneity - my obsession is to be different from the others," she says before sharing her home design secrets:

Approach everything with humour. I like to place funny little drawings that my children have created next to serious art. I like the mix. Mix expensive items with cheaper ones, just as you would mix a Chloé jacket with something from Topshop. I have a lamp that cost five euros next to a Poliakoff painting. Be brave and follow your instincts. I painted my office in deep pink and everyone thought I was crazy. Now my colleagues are always making excuses to come in to it. The pink creates such a wonderful light; it makes everyone's skin look lovely.

Don't be afraid of strong colour. I painted a dark brown armoire in matte red. It looked wonderful. Don't be afraid of black. I love it, so chic. I love black napkins and I like to decant all my makeup into chic black bottles. Black towels look stylish too. If you do nothing else, paint one wall a different colour. A wall in my daughter Violette's room is painted bright pink and the rest are white. She loves it.

Give your home a story. I always have a story in my head. You wouldn't dress a tall blonde the same way as a tiny brunette. So each home should have a different story. I have a tiny house in Normandy that has a Hansel and Gretel look. In contrast, my Paris apartment became a Gustavian fantasy and now my office is like a flea market full of wonderful clutter. If you love it, frame it. I frame everything - I put favourite boots, shoes, scarves and mementos in perspex boxes. It gives things a new life. A first pair of Start-rite shoes would look charming framed in a perspex box. You can create your own art.

Frame all your pictures in black and white frames. Even put them in the loo. Use black and white prints to cover boring areas like corridors and stairwells. I have a stairwell at Roger Vivier full of prints of famous people. I call it the "stair of vanity" as it leads nowhere. If you don't like it, don't keep it. It's crazy to keep inherited furniture or wedding gifts just because you think you should. I gave away my grandmother's silver that I never used - it was very liberating.

Break the rules. Dare to put a sofa in front of a table; there are no rules. Express your interests. I helped a football-mad friend decorate his home: I bought some beautiful 1930s football posters in a flea market, put them in simple wood frames and they look wonderful. I helped another friend who loved books; the books became the decoration. Buy basic items and make them your own. Take Ikea furniture and adapt it. I sawed the legs off the Ikea cupboard in my office. I also buy white pine furniture from La Rédoute and paint it grey or blue.

Organise chaos. Maniacs like me love to keep magazines. Keep them filed by title and in date order. Pick the right storage for the job. I love Muji for storage: I keep jewellery in their Perspex boxes so that I can see rings and trinkets easily. It's like being in a shop. I use their tin boxes for boring things like batteries. Get creative with the kids. Let your children paint murals on one wall in their rooms. It can look very sweet. I allowed my step-daughters to paint murals on a wall in my cottage in Normandy; the drawings are still there even though the girls are now grown up.

Be creative with your carpets. Frame rugs or carpets with a border to make them your own. Visit flea markets and auctions - if there are none in your home city, do so when you travel. If things are a little bit broken I don't care. Always bring things back from your travels, whether you buy them new or in flea markets. Banish white silk lampshades. I hate them - they're so bourgeois. I like to cover mine in brown paper and write little messages on them with a Japanese brush.

Cut up your flowers. I don't like formal flower arrangements; don't be afraid to cut up a posy and put the flowers into individual glasses, one by one. Never be stressed when you entertain. People don't care about the food and decoration. Better to serve pasta and be cool. Be entertaining when you entertain. In my house in the South of France last summer I served chocolate mousse in little cups from my daughter's doll's tea set and gave everyone a little silver teddy bear. They thought it was charming. On one occasion Christian Lacroix did a beautiful drawing on his napkin. Now I invite all my guests to draw something.

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