September 10, 2023“It’s all about relationships,” says Vicky Charles, the fast-talking, approachable and boundlessly creative cofounder of interior design studio Charles & Co. when asked about her company’s success. “Whether it’s with your client or the people you work with, you’ve all got to get along.” Everyone’s excited in the honeymoon period, but deeper into the project, Charles notes, “something’s bound to get stuck at customs or need to change, so being able to communicate is vital.”
Luckily, most of Charles’s team worked with her before she launched the firm in 2016 with business partner Julia Corden, “And we have a lot of repeat clients,” she points out. “Plus, most projects come via word of mouth, which is really very lovely.”
Regarding those clients, the roster is impressive: Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, Amal and George Clooney, David and Victoria Beckham, Emma Stone and Harry Styles. Celebrities, along with well-traveled non-famous global design cognoscenti, may have initially encountered her chicly comfortable interiors without knowing her name. Before setting up the studio, Charles spent 18 years as head of design at Soho House, where she helped define the members club’s instantly recognizable “home from home” aesthetic that has been emulated innumerable times by interior designers and homeowners around the world.
“I was sad to leave,” she says of her former place of employment, where she oversaw a wealth of high-profile projects, including Soho Farmhouse, in the Cotswolds; The Ned, in London; Soho House Istanbul; Little Beach House Malibu; Soho House Chicago; and Ludlow House, in New York. “But I did hospitality for so many years, and now we mainly focus on residential, which I adore.”
In addition to a main office in New York City (Charles lives upstate in the Catskills, a few hours away) and an outpost in Milan, Charles & Co. has recently opened a showroom and office on London’s Lots Road. “We have a fantastic list of European clients, so it’s important for us to have a base there,” the UK-born Charles explains. “Plus, the architecture in Europe is really exciting.”
Closer to home, one of the firm’s latest projects is a seven-bedroom, 10-bath, 10,000-square-foot beach house in the Hamptons, which it started at the beginning of COVID and worked on throughout lockdown. “It was interesting because we only met the client on Zoom, and it could have been hard to get a gauge,” says Charles. “But she is awesome and great to work with, so it wasn’t ever a problem.”
Built in the late 1990s, the house was typical of the area. “It’s shingled on the outside, the interiors were very white and looked just like everything else in the Hamptons,” Charles says. “But the owner has three teenagers and was very clear that she wanted a home for the kids to enjoy, and that it should also be set up for entertaining.” Although they don’t live there full time, the family visits on weekends and vacations throughout the year. “So it needed to be cozy, too,” Charles notes.
Along with a strict “nothing nautical” directive, the designers’ brief was to add color and texture, and to invest in some great antiques. “The client, who works in the film industry, wasn’t shy about having some fun,” says Charles. “She was keen to choose things with longevity and was incredibly decisive, which is so refreshing.”
Entering through a sun-filled hallway, one is struck by the floors, which have been stained a rich dark brown, the perfect foil for a Dmitriy & Co. sofa in warm, rust-colored fabric. Reflecting the light flowing through the glass door pane and vertical windows is a carved vintage mirror from Howe London, which is accompanied by a slender floor lamp and a neat woven bench, both from Orange, and sourced via 1stDibs.
Next is the living room, which is even brighter, thanks to a series of nearly floor-to-ceiling windows hung with gauzy linen drapes. Sofas and armchairs by Dmitriy & Co. and PINCH are arranged to create relaxed seating areas that also maximize views of the pool and the beach beyond. Providing a personal touch, an artwork above the fireplace is by a friend of the client’s.
The adjacent dining room accommodates a sizable rug by Woven, selected to pick up the teal, amber and burnt-orange hues that thread their way through the house. “One of my favorite things is working with clients and letting them gravitate toward different colors and textures,” says Charles. “You’ll always find an identity that runs throughout their choices. These things are very personal, and it’s interesting to observe how people see color differently.”
Continuing the dining room’s theme of warm colors, a pair of shapely cocktail chairs by George Smith sits in the window. Blue leather chairs from Rupert Bevan surround a generous dining table by Matthew Cox. Lighting comes courtesy of a row of hanging pendants by Los Angeles–based glass artist Alison Berger and a chic table lamp from PRB on 1stDibs. Also adjacent to the living space, a paneled bar room is painted in Studio Green by Farrow & Ball, creating a snug but sophisticated feel. Above the table hangs a modern Danish chandelier, sourced from Morentz on 1stDibs.
A kitchen plays a vital role in any home belonging to keen hosts, and here, the substantial island is a hub for family gatherings and parties. The space was relatively new, Charles explains, “so it felt wasteful to rip things out just for the sake of it. Instead, a few updates were the best way forward.” Her team didn’t change much other than the color of the cabinets and the hardware and countertop. They also added a trio of lanterns by Jamb, sourced from 1stDibs, that are at once practical and elegant, as is a set of burnished-brass bar stools by Chelsea Upholstery.
The ground floor’s welcoming guest bedroom is packed with characterful pieces, including a bed from Nickey Kehoe, a bamboo coffee table and standard lamp from Orange, a chandelier from Morentz, bedside lamps from PRB and a pair of armchairs from FINCH Hudson, all acquired on 1stDibs.
Upstairs, the primary bedroom offers a master class in decorating with neutrals. “We deliberately kept things soft here and added texture with sumptuous fabrics and tactile linen wallpaper,” says Charles. “The room opens up to an incredible view of the water.” Next to the bedroom is a relaxed office space complete with custom pull-out bed and chairs, as well as a coffee table and a side table/magazine rack, both from Orange at 1stDibs. Bedrooms belonging to the children and for guests demonstrate a similar low-key approach, some decorated with pretty floral wallpapers and others with elegant stripes.
Although the house required no architectural interventions, the basement was unfinished, offering an opportunity to invent a space from scratch. “The client had the brilliant idea to create not just a screening room, which links back to her own work, but a bar and a nightclub too,” says Charles. The result is a series of playful spaces, including a game room, realized in decadent chocolate and cherry shades punctuated with the house’s signature rusts and yellows. “It was amazing leaning into the seventies palette,” says the designer, who used silk wallpaper and a bold purple ceiling to impart even more glamour. The client wanted a place where, post-pandemic, she and her family could invite friends over to have fun, explains Charles, who felt free to go all out. “When the chance to include a dance floor and a DJ booth came up, we said, ‘Hell, yeah,’ and just went for it!”