Winter is the season during which we automatically spend more time indoors, so it makes sense to invest in ways to elevate your interiors over the coming months. Not sure where to start? We spoke to British designer Sophie Conran to get her insider advice on exactly how to style your home, as well as her top designer recommendations, to help you. Conran is best known for her award-winning range of tableware for Portmerion, as well as her classic, feminine interiors, so expect the pieces she picks to have plenty of charm. This is her guide on how to bring out the best in your home this winter.
When I’m in the garden or out for walks, I like to collect lots of foliage, firs and berries, and bring them home to use as decoration. At the moment I’m always on the hunt for Old Man’s Beard, tiny white puffs you find in hedgerows which look like something from Dr. Seuss and looks lovely dotted on a mantelpiece. This time of year is great for indoor bulbs – amaryllis, paperwhite narcissus and hyacinths will all grow and flower in the next few weeks.
Focus on the small things which make being at home over winter feel indulgent. Beautiful bed linen to snuggle up in is important – a bed should be restful and have a cloud-like quality to it. My Beaumont collection has a lovely ruffle on the edge making it feel quite special. A long soak in the bath is another wonderful winter luxury. I like to use some lily of the valley scented bath oil as the flower nostalgically reminds me of my grandmother, who grew them in her garden. Penhaligon’s always have the prettiest bottles.
Now that it’s getting dark, adding candles is a great way to light your home and add atmosphere. I love the calming colours and texture of these grooved ones. Light them during a night in, and pair with some wonderfully soft cashmere socks, like these ones from Scottish heritage brand Johnstons of Elgin which always feel like the height of luxury. I always like to have some Rose and Violet Creams from Fortnum and Mason on hand too, which always feel like a special treat whatever the time of year
If you’re a wonderful cook who wants to show off the food you’ve cooked, go for something show-stopping and ornate. But if you’ve got a young family, pick something that is both stylish and practical, that won’t bring on tears if it breaks.
My advice is to pick pieces that will charm and delight. I love Vladimir Kanevksy’s ceramics which are all handmade so that each piece feels like a work of art. The Oriente Italiano collection from Richard Ginori is a favourite of mine – it all works so beautifully together. Astier de Villatte creates show-stopping platters and stands, while Frances Palmer’s pottery is also amazingly creative. Every piece is unique, and makes for the perfect vase for a floral display.
I’m a big fan of Matilda Goad’s super creative designs – they are fun and playful and always make you smile. Carole Bamford is a god as far as I’m concerned. I love her ethos of fitting into nature and working alongside the planet. Everything she does has so much thought, amazing provenance and uses the finest materials. Lastly, I really like Wicklewood, because its products are always bright, colourful and uplifting. It’s joyful and feminine without being twee.
Think about the flow
Before you start filling your room with furniture, consider the way in which you’re going to use it. You need to be able to move around, so do your measurements before you do your purchasing so that the pieces you pick are practical and sensible and don’t interrupt the room’s flow.
Style with symmetry
Placing two matching items either side of another is always visually appealing. There’s something in our brains which associates symmetry with pleasure, so think about incorporating it into how you style your interiors.
Play with colour
Don’t be afraid you experiment with colour and interpret it into your home. I think we’re slowly moving away from minimalist grey and realising that using colour isn’t as daunting as it seems. Try painting large squares of card and placing them around the room to see how the light hits them to know what will work before you commit if you’re unsure.
Let your home’s architecture influence you
The period of your home is the best place to look for inspiration. For example, if you’re in a mid-century modern building, use the period to influence what style you put inside. Don’t worry if your home is a new build – that simply means it is a blank canvas for you to interpret however you want.
Do what you love
Surround yourself with pieces which bring you joy. Your home is an extension of yourself, so it’s your canvas on which you can reflect your creative personality. Make it into something you love. For example, I love old textiles, candlesticks, ornaments of silly little dogs with spots and lots of colour, so my house is full of those things.