Creating a serene, mood-boosting home has never been more important than in 2020 when we were all forced to stay inside for months on end during lockdown. Even now, as many restaurants, pubs and cinemas reopen, many of us are still working from our houses or apartments. The idea of our living spaces as havens away from the unpredictable and uneasy world outside was not lost on Queer Eye’s Tan France, who used lockdown as a chance to focus on his long-term, yet little-known love – interior décor.
France, who is best known as the Queer Eye’s fashion expert, has spent the last few months working on a homeware collaboration with Etsy, co-designing with 13 of the platform’s talented sellers to create a collection of elevated must-haves. Each piece is designed as a perfect gift (like or not, Christmas is just 100 days away), from beautiful ceramic mugs to scented candles and high-quality bath robes.
“The holiday market is a tough one because I think we all feel the pressure,” he tells us. “I always make sure that the gift I’m giving a person is something relatively personal that they can tell I’ve put thought into. We all want to give great gifts, so this my way of suggesting the type of present I’d give the people I love. If you’re struggling with what to buy as a gift, I’ve got you.”
While fans of the show consider Bobbi Berk the go-to when it comes to interiors, France has been interested in home design since back in the 90s’ when he became obsessed with BBC show Changing Rooms, which starred Laurence Llewellyn Bowen and Carol Smillie. He credits the rise of online shopping and the interiors inspiration found on social media as the motivation for fully utilising his skills and has since designed his homes in Salt Lake and LA.
France describes his interiors style as “grandma chic”, incorporating a classic approach with modern touches: “It’s super boring when an interiors aesthetic just falls under one genre,” he says. “There have been a lot of critics of my Salt Lake home. People expect me, as the fashion guy on Queer Eye, to have a super modern house and for there to be lots of clean lines and plenty of minimalism. That’s not my vibe at all.” His Salt Lake property features, fittingly for a man who loves fashion and beauty, an enviably large walk-in wardrobe that extends the length of the house, as well as a ‘candle closet’ in which to store his numerous scented candles.
“Fashion and interiors are so interwoven. As long as someone has an eye for what kind of patterns and colours go together, an interest in fashion translates to interiors very easily,” says France. “If you know the kind of colours that work on a person, you can translate that pretty well into a room. My job and Bobbi’s are pretty interchangeable – as long as you understand colour, proportion and texture then you can slip between the two.”
France has been based in Salt Lake with his husband since lockdown began. He has strictly adhered to the social distancing measures, concentrating on making his home a tranquil, calming space. “Many of my friends were laxer where I wasn’t – a lot of them thought I was crazy because I wouldn’t let anyone into my house,” he says. “If someone came over, we’d sit six feet away in the backyard and if they wanted to go to the bathroom, they would have to go home. I made sure that the space I’m in feels joyful and a place of safety – it’s become a sanctuary.”
Queer Eye’s overarching themes of unity and positivity are all too relevant this year when self-isolation, illness and grief have left many of us struggling. France kept this troubled backdrop in mind when creating his homeware collection, aiming to create affordable treats for our living space that evoke a small slice of happiness.
“It’s more valuable to do that ever to find those little pockets of joy, entertainment and self-care,” he says. “We all took for granted that we could do whatever we wanted, that we could see friends and family, but now we really have to search for those things in ourselves, and it isn’t always easy.”
Start with the small things, he says, and the rest will follow. “Put on clothes that make you feel the best, happiest version of you and create a space in your home that makes you feel good because we’re not able to go out as much. I really want this collection to be universal enough for anyone across the country to be able to purchase something to spruce up wherever they live. I want to make them feel as if they have a little something that makes them feel happy, that makes them smile.”
Shop the collection at etsy.com/collections/tanfrance
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