Hello and welcome to The Great Indoors Podcast. For this week’s episode, we have moved away from our usual podcast hubs to my bijou little holiday let in Brighton. Before we get on to that, a huge thank you to our sponsor John Lewis & Partners and our fab producer Kate Taylor.
On with the show, as we take a tour around my snug cottage we share some top tips on small space living, and yes, it’s that time of year again when we get to discuss Christmas trends and then finally we chat about why interiors are inspired by nature. If you haven’t done so already you can listen to us in full here and don’t forget our ever-growing Facebook group, it’s a fab interior-loving community, so please get involved and share your views and questions about the show.
(For all my Instagram followers out there you would have noticed that this little place is getting a makeover, so watch this space.)
Kate’s initial reaction to my central Brighton cottage was a surprise to say the least, as she thought the design and colour scheme was very ‘un Sophie’ and thought she had walked into the wrong house. There is a reason however, I went dark with the scheme as it’s on a twitten alley so lacks lots of natural light. A common mistake is to go for white in a small, dark space but in actual fact, this can make it look quite grey and depressing so I say go for a dark and dramatic scheme and embrace the cosiness. As it is an open-plan space I went for black kitchen units, tiles and walls so that the kitchen would disappear and not jump out as soon as you enter the house.
Up the narrow, steep staircase circa 1565, to the master bedroom with custom made shutters and a shiny/flock wallpaper which I think all needs a re-fresh so I’m tackling this room too.
Onto the bathroom…… wait for Kate’s reaction – if you don’t already know Kate doesn’t do yellow! The canary yellow bathroom features a double wet room as it was just too small a space to keep the original bath and as it’s a holiday let it was just a more practical option. Going full-on colour and full-on pattern in a small bathroom will make it fell really grand and luxurious.
I love wallpaper in the bathroom and my top tip is to obviously stick it down really well, and foil paper is especially tough and durable but above all invest in a good extractor fan. Check out a post I did on wallpapering a bathroom here.
Up another narrow staircase via the landing featuring the Woods wallpaper by Cole & Son and I went for foil colourway to add interest and helps bounce light into the space.
This twin attic bedroom room definitely got the Kate Watson-Smyth seal of approval. Another small space and another visual trick, a broad vertical stripe wallpaper leads the eye up and I carried it onto the ceiling creating a sense of height and space.
Through another door is a hidden tiny third bedroom which Kate said was more ‘me’. I created this bespoke headboard by covering pre-cut pieces of MDF with remnant fabrics and foam although I will have to double check with the builder husband about placing them on the wall!
If you have a small or guest bedroom, don’t worry about trying to squeeze in some storage furniture, just a row of hooks and some stylish coat hangers will be plenty for guests to hang their wares.
So who better to chat about those annual trends than Mr Christmas himself AKA Dan Cooper, Christmas Buyer for John Lewis & Partners spends the whole year in search of those unique and interesting decorations. We met up with him at the Oxford Street store to get some insider hints and tips. First things first, one thing I wanted to know (and prove to Kate) if tinsel has made a come-back? Through Kate’s thorough research, last year John Lewis’ tinsel sales were up by 11% – music to my ears. And I’m pleased to say than Dan is on board the tinsel train too.
So as for themes, this year The Sanctuary range features blush, on-trend pinks – not traditionally Christmas but Dan said there isn’t really such a thing a ‘traditional’ Christmas style and pretty much anything goes, as people want their trees to be more unusual and individual. They are selling more and more unusual decorations – a glass backpack, for instance, has become a top seller as people are giving them as token gifts.
Interestingly, Dan said that over the years people have become more aware of the interior the tree is going into, in the past, it was a stand-alone element and the tree didn’t relate. In recent years sales of blue-toned trees increased which presumably was reflected by the trend towards grey and neutral schemes.
Top tip… as the trend for ‘showing off’ the tree in the window to your neighbours may have worn off as we are now showing them off on Instagram. However, as Dan points out it is incredibly difficult to take a good shot of the Christmas tree, the lighting is never in the right place and coming from every direction, so customers are advised to use some larger pieces on the tree – hence the squirrel – to create a focal point.
So, we know that green has been big news of late, we discussed Dulux’s colour of the year Tranquil Dawn (green), we’ve seen increased awareness of Biophilia and brands are collaborating with the Natural History Museum for example. Not forgetting William Morris is having a renaissance, on a range of accessories too, so as much as we chat about trends when you think about it our fascination with using the natural world as inspiration as been around forever. From animals and flora and fauna to botanicals, birds and butterflies, they are all motifs that have been used in interior design for ages. So where did this love for introducing nature come from? Cue research queen Kate – looking back at the Art Nouveau movement it was very much about the natural forms and structures which were meant to uplift and inspire, with the natural curves of plants and flowers. William Morris’ most popular design, trellis was inspired by the view from his study window in his country home, so it quite simply was typical English Country style.
But then came Art Deco which took a lead from industry, but it soon came round again with the quintessentially English country look which was popularised by American Nancy Lancaster who bought Colefax & Fowler in the 1940s, known for their country influences, with floral cushions and lampshades, all brought together with flowers depicted in the fabrics, in picture frames and with real flowers dotted around.
Florals seem to be just as popular now with designers taking that classic look, having fun with it and adding their own unique stamp on the style. This look is much easier to achieve than minimalism as pretty much anything goes – there are no rules!
So I think in summary, we just love adding nature to our interiors and having that connection as it makes us feel good and with recent reports on wellbeing in the home it just enforces that trends come and go but it’s the natural influences that are here to stay.
This blog post was compiled by Luisa Ferdenzi-Rouse