For Victoria Kelly, there are many parallels between interior design and entertaining – both inspire creative self-expression, in both she finds great pleasure and, perhaps most importantly, both are most rewarding when enjoyed with company.
Upon entering the Stanley home that Victoria shares with her husband and their two young children, neither her love of decorating nor her fondness for throwing a good party come as any great surprise. "I love welcoming people to my home and making them feel comfortable," she explains. "A friend of mine, when walking into a beautifully decorated room in New York, commented that a well-designed room just makes you feel good – it’s so true. There’s this magic that happens with the right proportions and textures and light that can have a truly emotional effect. I feel that, for me, I have achieved it – being in my home makes me very happy."
Indeed it should – the stunning space exemplifies the mix of scale, natural light and tactile tangibility that Victoria admires. From the sun streaming in through the wood-paned French windows that run the length of the living room to the soaring ceilings, as well as the considered appointments and accoutrements within, there’s definitely something special about the family’s abode.
Certain pieces in the generous living and dining areas draw the eye; take the gallery wall as an example. "Every single piece has meaning," says Victoria. Included among the works on display are orchid pressings by a close friend, Gemma Hayden Blest; a 17th-century map of India Victoria gave to her husband for their paper wedding anniversary; original prints of Hong Kong in the early 1900s; and a sketch drawn by her great-great-grandmother.
Other artworks by Victoria’s Italian-trained great-great-grandmother also enjoy pride of place above the mirrored cabinet, which captures the gaze of any guest. Bought in New York, the striking sideboard is the embodiment of Victoria’s design approach – bold, statement items peppered with personal touches. Thoughtfully presented atop this particular piece are seashells collected on her honeymoon on the Tanzanian island of Mnemba, a giraffe ornament from Zanzibar and a Mao Zedong figurine purchased in Shanghai.
"I love that we have filled our home with mementos from our travels, friends and family," explains Victoria. "They provide a connection to those places and people that is extremely comforting. While I really don’t like clutter, those special pieces that we do have out bring me so much joy every day."
Victoria continues, "I almost always entertain outside. My poor guests have shivered and sweltered at times, but I think there’s something so special about eating alfresco." She adds, "We’ve even been known to finish some dinner parties with a couple of rounds of beer pong in the garden – not so classy, but so much fun!" Fun, absolutely, and also indicative that Victoria understands the key to perfecting the art of entertaining is not only a stunning setting, but also a lot of heart.