Matthew Godley
Interior Design
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Country Life July 2005 \ Homes & Gardens \ Matchbox Magazine, April 2010
Matchbox Magazine, April 2010

Matthew Godley has spent a quter of a century creating beautiful bespoke interiors.  But the real key to design success, as LIAT CLARK learns, is to find the heart in every home.

Matthew Godley is a homemaker, in the truest sense of the word. Having worked as an interior designer for 25 years, he has turned his eye to various high profile projects, including the Cobden Club in Notting Hill.  However, walking into his Edwardian terrace in west London and immediately feeling its quite ease, it's apparent that this is where the essence of Godley's style lies- in creating a sense of home.  He achieves this with a tailored approach to every project- one that values the individual above all else- incorporating his knowledge and eye for detail into their needs and personality.

"There are two sorts of client', he says.  "One goes to label decorators like Kelly Hoppen- they're buying into a particular style, like buying a Ferrari.  Others want to give the impression they did it themselves; it's their style and they're very involved."

There's nothing wrong with the former, he continues.  Many people simply don't have the time.  "They want it to be efficient, like a hotel.. it's not something I can relate to- it's not a family home. People hire me to give a more family, lived-in, period style that's more casual."

As if to underline his point, Godley's young daughter rushes past in her pink tutu fresh from ballet.  His own home is full of life and is a testament of his ethos; it's all about effortless comfort and practicalities combined with luxurious essentials and personal touches.  The furniture is firmly rooted in the 19th century, a period he hails as being all about comfort, while heirlooms and modern art introduce a sense of individuality.  He always treats a property's original architecture sensitively, whether is a country manor or an East End warehouse conversion.  Here, for example, he has made the most of the original wood floor by whitening and lacquering it.

Godley always focuses on a person's lifestyle- whether they have children, whether they entertain; whatever the brief entails he always establishes their character within the design.

His own style is definitely classical, regarding quality above what he calls "transient" fashions.  "My style's got more sophisticated," he explains.  "I use better furniture, better antiques. I'm always striving to give people the best and learning about better grade."  Since many people don't want an entire redesign, Godley recommends giving the present style a lift by investing in better quality pieces.

In such cases, he advises being " sympathetic to what's there".  As he puts it:"Familiarity is a nice thing, and if it aint' broke don't fix it-but you can upgrade."

For those on a budget, being resourceful pays off.  "There's a plethora of fabrics, and curtains are a big slice of the budget so shop around for inexpensive fabric," he suggests.  "Go somewhere like GP & J Baker who might do a similar print but cheaper."

Another good tip is to work with what you have and resist the temptation of an overly complicated bathroom or kitchen.  "Put in the best you can afford on the practical side, like floor finishes and good taps.  In the kitchen, go for standard units and put decent granite or hardwood worktops in."

Of course the detailing should go beyond the practicalities.  In terms of placing the individual into the design, Godley says artwork goes a long way and recommends you take your time in finding the perfect piece.  As important as retaining a home's original features or character is retaining your own within it, and this is where Godley is most definitely the man for the job.

Matthew charges an hourly consultancy rate of