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5 Minutes With… The Do:Inhabit Authors

Stylists Sue Fan and Danielle Quigley are the interiors maestros tasked with making the Do Lectures – four days of life-changing talks that happen each year in deepest Wales and on the banks of the Russian River in California – memorably beautiful places to gather. Whether in a chicken shed or a field of teepees, their spaces are wild, welcoming and inspiring. Now the two have written their own design manifesto, Do Inhabit: Style Your Space for a Creative and Considered Life. We stopped them for a chat about how to make a house a home…

Sue Fan and Danielle Quigley ©Damien Noble Andrews

You describe yourself as two friends with similar tastes but very different personalities – how does that show up in your respective houses?

Sue: My home tends to make you take a deep breath and focuses on calm; Danielle’s makes you excited to look around. Danielle also tends to be the more feminine of the two of us, so her home is ​always prettier and glitzier. Both feel cosy, but definitely different.

Danielle: ​Sue is a terrific editor of her things, very intentional and committed to what she has. I, on the other hand, like to keep things moving around and, with the exception of a few favourites, I am constantly switching out one thing for another or adding a new trinket to my collections. That means my house doesn’t always look perfect, but it keeps it interesting and full of treasures!

You both love interiors that embrace the seasons. Any tips for getting your home winter-ready?

Sue: Winter is my favourite. Baskets, blankets, booze. Who wouldn’t love winter with these things encouraging you to be cosy by the fire? This is the time to pile up textiles to warm a space up.
Danielle: Finding your sunshine-loving plants a winter home inside provides a great opportunity to brighten things up. This is also a great time to grab and display some low-maintenance greenery. Evergreens or dried flowers fit right in at this time of year. Also, a place for coats, boots, scarves, and gloves is always an issue so I usually bring out a big basket where they can drop if needed.

If you are starting with a new space what are the first things you consider?

Sue: Favourite pieces of furniture, and plants. If you make room for these, the space inevitably feels loved and full.
Danielle: How and where the light comes in.

You love spaces that are ‘beautiful, unique and wild’. What are your favourite things you’ve bought/ found for your house?

Sue: A large elk antler found in the woods of Colorado that always has a shelf to sit on, an old letterpress drawer with wild bits (lichen, moss, stones, and bones) and a ‘wild’ lampshade made especially for me by Danielle.
Danielle: I have a walking stick that my dad carved while camping over twenty years ago. It is plain, straight-ish, and isn’t of much note, but it has been the centrepiece of my home for as long as I can remember, just like his memory is most certainly the centrepiece of my life. My greatest treasures are all like this – beautiful, sentimental, and wild.

You have a great section on sharing your space in the book. Any tips on how to agree when you love the Frieda Kahlo cushion/ driftwood mirror but your partner hates it?

Sue: Balance. If one person truly, truly hates it, maybe it goes in the other person’s room, closet, shelf, corner. Like the basis for any good relationship, communicate and be willing to compromise.
Danielle: I’ve found that having a space that is just mine helps me both compromise and edit. It doesn’t have to be a big space, even just a corner in the closet or a shelf in the bathroom that we both agree is just mine, where I can keep my most controversial and treasured things.

In the book you embrace a new word to live by, not hygge but prutsen, which seems to be a kind of constant tinkering with your living space to get things just right… What kind of prutsen is going on in your houses right now?

Sue: I just moved so prutsen is a constant at the moment. I’m always prutsen in the kitchen. I never tire of beautiful jars filled with lovingly preserved food. I also always prutsen plants and whatever we find on our daily morning walks.
Danielle: I’ve been prutsen in my bedroom quite a lot these days. As the seasons change, I like to pull out all my favourite blankets, layer them, switch the books on my bedside table. More specifically, I have a pretty tray in my bedroom that houses all my jewellery, makeup, lotions, a catch-all. It needs to be orderly as I share the dresser top with my husband, but also pretty because I have to look at it at the start and end of my day. So I’ve been obsessively trying different containers and arrangements to see what works – a vintage pink box that was my grandmother’s, a thrifted brass jar, I could go on forever. That is prutsen at its best, playing around until you find what fits just right.

To find about more about the Do lectures, click here. You can buy Sue and Danielle’s new book here.

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