In the first of our new White Spaces series, the fabulous stylist-turned-blogger Sara Delaney, of Notes From A Stylist, gives us a tour of her Surrey home and talks feature walls, mixing textures and tips to quickly perk-up a room.
Q: How long have you lived here?
“We moved here in the Autumn of 2005. I remember the day because it was our youngest, Max’s second birthday so we managed to throw in a cake and quick verse of happy birthday while unpacking the boxes. We then had the house completely refurbed (while living in it – nightmare – remind me not to do that again) and then promptly moved to New York for five years as soon as it was finished, which meant renting it out and our new tenants enjoying all the lovely new fixtures and fittings. When we moved back and finally got to live in it, we were still really happy with all the décor choices we had made, so that was lucky.”
Q: Which is your favourite room?
“I think the dining room is my favourite room. We had built-in, back-lit shelves put in each side of the original fireplace, which we now use as a bit of a display area. We can switch it up every now and then with a few accessories to reflect current trends. It also has a great window seat and big windows which open out, so you can throw them open for fresh air, if you’re settling in for a long lunch, or dinner party.”
Q: When designing a room, what is the most important factor?
“The first thing I always think about is where does the natural light come from? Once I’ve figured that out, I add in the purpose of the room and then decide on the layout. My décor mood is normally swayed by current fashion trends, so I often perk up a room with subtle colour changes, or layers of texture and accessory details to give a nod to new-season style.”
Q: What are the three things that instantly make a room feel homely to you?
“For me it’s always fragrant candles, flowers and tons of cushions. If I was allowed to pick a fourth thing it would be family.”
Q: Minimalist blank canvas or statement-making maximalism?
“I lean towards the minimalist, although am not averse to throwing in a pop of colour on walls, and then I tend to add other points of interest through furniture and accessory choices.”
Q: Do you have any interior hacks?
“Over the years I’ve picked up a few hacks along the way. One of my favourites is mixing up fake and real flowers, which gives your floral displays a little more longevity. I also switch up the cushions around the house every new season, which changes the feel of the room instantly. In the same vein, we’ve also changed door handles or painted wooden furniture a different shade to revitalise pieces, or perk-up corners that are looking a bit drab.”
Q: Do you have any tips on decorating with white?
“Whenever I’m decorating with white I like to mix up the interest by layering patterns and textures with the fabrics I’ve chosen. Think about pairing wool, silk, boucle, velvet or metallic shimmers for variety and to add subtle shade differences. Lighting is also a key ingredient for me in making a room with predominantly white décor work. You can create different moods by adding amazing decorative lights. Our hall lights are definitely a crowd pleaser in our minimalist hallway.”
Q: What do you think is the easiest way to refresh a room without completely redesigning it?
“If I need to refresh a room but don’t have the budget, I normally move the furniture, or art, around in it to give it a new feel. I’ve also been known to randomly paint a wall to perk-up a room while my husband has been out at work… resulting in varying levels of success. My current favourite wall is one in the kitchen which has a massive floral fresco wallpaper – not very in-keeping with my The White Company obsession, but it makes me smile when I see it every morning.”
Q: What are your favourite homeware pieces from our current collection?
“I’m slightly besotted with the Soft Seagrass Basket, which is so versatile for keeping a room tidy when the kids’ flotsam and jetsam gets everywhere. I also love the Kubu Basket range for keeping everything in its place around the house. When it comes to entertaining I can never resist linen napkins – I’ve just bought the grey ones, and they work for any season, or occasion. I’m also rather taken with the Symons Bone China range – it suits my minimalist cravings perfectly. Whatever the season, I’ve also got a thing for anything sparkly so the Mercury Table Lights and Tea Light Holders have been catching my eye. I’m also a sucker for a new vase shape each season so the Emerson Vase has been added to my collection without even a blink of an eye. The candle fragrance I’m using all over the house is the Summer one – perfect for adding a seasonal warm-weather vibe, even on the greyest of days.