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Quick Takes With: Cassandra Ellis


Quick Takes With: Cassandra Ellis

April 14, 2024
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“Your home should be your storyteller—the weaver of the red thread and a marker of you and yours.”

The rolling hills are almost human in their falls and curves.

“It’s not the fanciest house, but if it makes people feel, then I’ve done what I think is right.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking that these are excerpts from a gorgeously written novel. But Cassandra Ellis, designer and color doyenne, writes more lyrically than almost anyone we know about her projects. (Further evidence here, here and here.) She also treats rooms themselves as poetry, most recently through Atelier Ellis, her Bath, England-based paint company. “Loving color and nature, I wanted to create a human-scale business that looks for reminders of humanity in everything we do,” she says. “We make beautiful, breathable, bio-based paint and color that helps people tell the story of their home. And for this, I am very proud.”

Today Cassandra shares her go-to daily uniforms, the podcast she puts on for inspiration, and the hue she’s dreaming of for her bedroom. Read on…

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You’re invited to dinner. What’s your go-to gift?

My stepdaughter is now a pastry chef at the renowned Landrace Bakery, so our friends mostly want her delicious goods. Previously it would have been Champagne and flowers from the garden. Good friends get all three.

What’s on your bedside table?

Books. So, so many books. All nonfiction, but generally a mixture of business, biography, and beautiful pictures. And magazines. I won’t ever stop buying print magazines. Blumenhaus and Handwerk are my two new favorites.

What’s your desert island design-related book?

Isle Crawford’s Sensual Home. Over 25 years old and still the most relevant book on what home is and should be.

What podcast or playlist do you put on when you need inspiration?

Time Sensitive by Spencer Bailey. He is the best interviewer, and his guests are always inspiring, intelligent, and useful. I’ve learnt so much for my life and my business.

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Above: A favorite from A Refined Terrace House in London by Cassandra Ellis. Photograph by Catherine Gratwicke.

What has been your best house upgrade?

Always the floors. Fake floors or wrong floors ruin a home. It is always the best investment to be made.

And a simple or budget-friendly design move you wish you’d known sooner?

Paint—but I would say that. Changing the color of a room or cupboard can change your whole relationship with it.

My favorite sheets are…

Linen. Rough, indestructible linen.

My favorite paint color for the bedroom is…

It changes. Currently my bedroom is Tea & Toast, but my favorite color from childhood has always been soft blue/green. Tamaki is the color in our range. When the right bedroom becomes available, it will be bathed in it.

My go-to kitchen utensil is…

Japanese cast iron pans. We have changed to an induction cooker, and these are perfect. Also knives from David Mellor. And chopping boards, lots of wooden chopping boards.

What item from your closet do you have on repeat?

I have two uniforms depending on the season and whether I am in the factory or not: trousers, t-shirt, and jumper, or a dress. With trainers or ballet flats. Simple but beautifully made.

Above: ““I think we all have a color that says ‘this is me,’ and this is mine,” Cassandra told us in Like Walking Through a Sonnet: A Serene East Sussex Barn by Cassandra Ellis. (This color is Smoked Green Blue.) Photographs via Light Locations.

Favorite design shop to visit, online or in person?

Analogue Life, purveyor of the Japanese pans and many other good things.

What is the last thing you purchased for your house?

A kitchen, finally. Rough brushed stainless steel, repurposed marble, and lovely old taps. Working like a dream.

I don’t leave the house without…

Keys to the factory and store. My Filofax. And my heart and head.

Your design pet peeve?

Perhaps decorating too much, or decorating for a life you don’t live.

photograph from like walking through a sonnet: a serene east sussex barn by cas 33
Above: Photograph from Like Walking Through a Sonnet: A Serene East Sussex Barn by Cassandra Ellis. Photograph via Light Locations.

Three words that describe my design style:

Spare but detailed.

Oh, and something you’re coveting?

I’m actually coveting less. Actually having less. It’s something my husband and I talk about constantly. We often have lists of things we desire this week and then keep coming back to them on a monthly basis to see how the desire ebbs and flows. My only constant seems to be more dogs and roses..

Thanks so much, Cassandra! For more, follow Atelier Ellis here and here. (And keep an eye out: “Our townhouse store is moving into her next cloak of color on the 19th of April,” Cassandra reports. “With Katherine Mansfield as our muse, our twelve new colors harness feminine energy, fauna, and the beauty of still life.”

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