Want to know how to make your home look as good as Sophie Paterson’s creations? Sophie’s 'Week with SheerLuxe' series continues today with her 29 top tips for interior design, plus her Little Black Book of where to buy everything from stylish paint colours to chic bathroom tiles…
What's the Sophie look?
A home that is elegant but homely and comfortable. I don’t design a room to look good in a photo, design a room that will feel good to live in.
How would you describe your interiors style?
Contemporary classic, a predominantly neutral base with a delicate use of colour and layers of luxury and texture.
Where do you start when it comes to a scheme?
I always start with the space planning – we work with scale floor plans and I plot out different arrangements of furniture until it feels like the room has the best flow and use of space. After that, I work with the fabrics and finishes and allocate the colours in the scheme to different pieces, considering how hard-wearing they need to be and ensuring that the colour is equally balanced around the room.
Is there one thing you always put in a scheme?
A hard-wearing practical fabric for the sofa in the family room.
What would you never put in a scheme?
Diamanté – although it’s acceptable on a Christmas tree.
Is there a room that's most important to think about first?
I always start with whichever one inspires me the most in a project. It doesn’t really matter which one you start with.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. I would say department stores like Harrods and Selfridges are great inspiration for cabinetry and interior architecture details; Selfridges has a beautiful marble in laid floor and Harrods has some beautiful panelling and flooring details. I am never not thinking about interiors so I get inspiration constantly.
What are your favourite interiors trends right now?
I love using bronze, antique brass and marble.
How early on do you think about paint colours?
Paint colours come quite late on – I try them out on site and next to all the fabrics and finishes.
Any paint colours that always work?
No – they can vary so much depending on the light; how much natural light there is, what type of bulbs you have… what looks grey in one property looks green in another, which is why you must always test them out before you buy.
What’s the most important thing to consider in each room?
Kitchen: The worktops and surfaces – make sure they’re hard-wearing and easy to keep clean. I also like to put the hob on the island, if there is one, with either a pop-up extractor or overhead one integrated into the ceiling. It’ll save you cooking with your back to the room.
Living room: Try to put seating around all sides of the room if you can – it’s much more sociable than just having one sofa facing a TV. In larger rooms, make sure you have more intimate seating areas so if there’s only one or two of you in the room you can still feel cosy.
Bathroom: Put concealed storage behind the mirror and a floating vanity unit under the sink with drawer storage.
Bedroom: Have bespoke bedside tables made to fit your dimensions perfectly. They’re one of the most used items in your bedroom and if you get them right they can double up as great storage. I go for extra deep ones so you have lots of space on top, even with a table lamp.
Child’s bedroom: Use vinyl wallpaper so you don’t constantly have to touch up the paintwork – it’s wipe-clean.
Should woodwork be lighter or darker than the walls?
I generally go darker, but there’s no real rule. I love lighter colour timbers at the moment.
Is marble always best in a bathroom?
Yes, for the walls; it’s so timeless. But for floors, I use composite stone slabs or oversized porcelain tiles.
What's the most practical type of flooring?
Wooden flooring with a texture, so it doesn’t get slippery, in a mid-tone colour like a taupe or grey stain on oak.
What kind of carpet looks the most luxe?
Anything with a sheen.
How do you approach fabric?
I always think about how it’s going to be used. Does it need to be hard-wearing? What is it next to? Is there enough pattern? Will it hide stains? How much will you need? If it’s a sofa or curtains, I use a more affordable fabric than for cushions or small upholstery items.
Any rules about textures?
I like contrasting them – linen against velvet, leather, shagreen… it looks so much nicer when there’s a variety.
Are you big into velvet?
I love velvet but I’m very careful where I use it in projects and only for clients who understand it can crush.
Any ways to metallics from looking too bling?
Avoid chrome as much as possible and embrace bronze and antique brass.
How much do you prioritise lighting?
We always ensure we design the lighting before the works commence, and after everything else is designed, to ensure the right features are highlighted.
Any tips for accessories?
Use unusual ones, group them together, group by colour (try to stick to a maximum of three colours for your accessories in any one room).
And how do you combine them?
Group different forms, with different textures and varying heights, but ones with a similar colour, or that pick out different colours in the room.
Fitted wardrobes or free standing?
What interior design mistakes do people always make?
Not planning out the space carefully – rugs that are too small, sofas that are too big, not enough variety in fabrics, not being brave enough, being too brave… I’ve seen it all.
How do you make a room look expensive?
Sophie Paterson’s Little Black Book of Interiors:
Best high street store: French Connection or West Elm.
Best boutique: Andrew Martin.
Best department store: John Lewis – not for furniture, but for crockery and the like.
Best online store: 1stdibs.
For fabric: Zimmer + Rohde.
For tiles: Either Fired Earth or Mandarin Stone.
For paint: Zoffany.
For affordable artwork: Look for antique paintings on eBay or befriend your local art colleges and go to their exhibitions to find young up-and-coming artists.
For kitchens: It has to be Hayburn & Co – they’re doing my new utility room and I love their timeless aesthetic.
For bathrooms: We use CP Hart.
For soft furnishings: Robert Langford or The Sofa & Chair Company.
For eclectic finds: Talisman.