Meet the Editor: An Interview with Elle Decoration’s Michelle Ogundehin

Michelle Ogundehin, Editor-in-Chief of Elle Decoration (c) Ben Anders

Michelle Ogundehin, Editor in Chief of Elle Decoration (c) Ben Anders

Every month we’re delighted when Elle Decoration lands on our desk, quickly snaffling copies to take home and read at our leisure! Known for its curated and contemporary aesthetic, the pages of Elle Decoration feature stunning homes from around the world, as well as insightful trend reports and articles on the changing world of design.  Luckily for us, we had the chance to sit down and interview Michelle Ogundehin, Editor in Chief of Elle Decoration for the past 12 years, and ask her all about the magazine, her own style and the launch of Elle Decoration’s newest project the Elle Decoration Apartment at the Gateway Pavilion.

How did you get involved with the apartment at the Gateway Pavilion?

Knight Dragon Developments contacted me and proposed the idea of us designing a show flat. Ultimately we conceived and built the whole concept of the ELLE Decoration Style Consultancy around this pilot project, and created the ultimate #EDapartment.

How did you start to build colour schemes and mood boards for each of the rooms?

I think composing colour schemes is very intuitive, it’s about creating a palette as a series of layers that just feels right for what you’re trying to achieve. But first I listened to what the developers were aiming for with their properties, who they were for, and what their expectations were. Ultimately the palette reflected this desire for calm, elegant sophisticated spaces representing what will be high-specification, up-market apartments.

What’s your best piece of advice for readers who are just embarking on a big decorating project?

Tear sheet like crazy, and take it slowly! I always find I need to really spend time in a new space to get a proper feel of it, how the light changes, where I feel myself drawn to sit, which rooms feel warm, which cold and so on. What are the views, what do I see when I come in through the front door, what do I see walking down the stairs and so on. And also, always always start from the envelope, by which I mean sort the physical structure that envelopes you, the walls, floors, ceiling, before you buy any furniture. Plus, choose lights last, they are like the earrings that finish an outfit.

So the project is launching your new Elle Decoration Style Consultancy, can you tell us a little more about this?

The style consultancy is a natural business extension of the brand of ELLE Decoration. I see each issue of the magazine as a sort of regular briefing of all that is good and great in the interiors world that month, plus we showcase the world’s most beautiful homes, so the consultancy is about taking all of that insight and expertise and applying it to the real world. I’m also originally trained as an architect, so there’s an element of itching to literally get back to practicing what we preach! We’re also in the enviable position of having immediate and easy access to some of the best brands in the world, so we can use that to the advantage of our clients. Plus as a magazine brand within the Hearst UK portfolio, we have the most incredible reach and readership through which to amplify our projects.

Classic clean lines in the study at the Greenwich Peninsula

Classic clean lines in the study at the Greenwich Peninsula (c) Ben Anders

You’re lucky enough to be Editor-in-Chief of Elle Decoration, what’s a typical day like?

My day starts at 6.30 preparing breakfast for my son and trying to remember to do some yoga stretches to wake my body up. Take vits and eat some breakfast myself. I also let the dogs out into the front garden to pee! Which is actually a precious quiet moment of standing on my front step, listening to the birds and breathing fresh sea air (I live in Brighton). From then onwards it all gets a bit more hectic.

8.00 Drop Joseph off at nursery.

8.30 On train and start working Answering emails, reading copy, or writing.

10.00 Arrive office, fire up computer, check calendar, updated by PA, check in with Deputy. Then it’s all about interaction with my team: discussing new feature ideas, checking layouts, editing copy, meetings, external appointments and so on. I’ve also been doing increasingly more TV presenting work these days too which is exciting, so that wipes out some days, and often runs late.

17.00 Heading home. Work on train. Although at the start and end of the week I make myself listen to a series of meditation tapes I have on my iPod. I’ve come to realise how important it is to seize regular opportunities for quieter moments in order to keep yourself centred. As someone once told me, you can’t live in the super highway of life without looking after yourself.

19.00 Once home, it’s all about my son. No work. No computers. No excuses. A strict discipline, rarely broken.

Can you let us know about anything else new and exciting from the magazine that we can look forward to?

It’s incredibly important to me that the magazine keeps evolving, never standing still. Our mantra at the moment is to ensure ELLE Decoration is as “helpful” as possible to the home-improving reader. In fact, actively working on Style Consultancy projects made me realise an additional level of information we were not providing. So look out for our new look, more in-depth seasonal edit of all the new fabrics, paints and wallpapers in our October issue!

The new October issue

The new October issue

We love reading your editor’s letters, where do you find inspiration for this each month?

There’s always something that either tickles me or enrages me enough to want to write about it. But I particularly love to take seemingly disparate events and propose a common theme. Culture and design doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it’s informed directly and more subliminally by everything going on around it from world politics to the current movies.
Elle Decoration has a very distinctive, curated look, but how would you describe your personal style?

I am a self-confessed clutter-clearing obsessive and detail queen: I think that says it all.

The stunning master bedroom at the Elle Dec Apartment

The stunning master bedroom at the Elle Dec Apartment (c) Ben Anders

What’s the most interesting item/artefact/curios in your home?

I don’t “do” curios per se. Dust collectors! But I have some wonderful art, from a huge textural piece bought in Hong Kong to my son’s intuitive multi-media art (we do lots of creative play at the weekends!) which I love and frame with the same reverence as an Emin.   

And finally, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Right where I do.



Rebecca Maclean


Rebecca’s interest in interior design began as a teenager when she had the ‘bright’ idea of painting her bedroom a striking tangerine shade. Today that passion for colour permeates her working life, and at home she enjoys trying new ideas while decorating her first home. Rebecca loves to travel, seeing the world and discovering new landscapes, sights and flavours.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

The Chromologist