As one of the UK’s leading interior designers, there’s not much Sophie Paterson doesn’t know about creating gorgeous living spaces. Sophie’s contemporary yet classic interiors include luxurious homes, restaurants and other commercial premises, and have featured in interior-design magazines around the world. That’s why, when she agreed to show us around her own house and share some of her tricks of the trade, we couldn’t wait.
Q. How did you get into interior design?
I have always loved interiors, right from childhood. Ten years ago, I was asked by a developer to help him with the interiors for his latest project – a townhouse in South Kensington. He asked me to design it in a similar style to my own home, which he had seen and loved. It was a big risk for him as he gave me complete free reign, but he had total faith in me. It paid off: the property sparked a bidding war and sold for the highest price per-square-foot in the area at that time.
After that, I worked on several more developments successfully with that developer, before I set up my company in 2008 to cater to the growing demand for our services. I was fortunate to get lots of press coverage for my projects and social media has also been a catalyst – the timing was just right and our style seems to resonate with a lot of people across the globe.
Since 2008, the company has grown and expanded steadily and we are now a team of six interior designers and interior architects. We work on high-end residential projects around the world. I am careful to ensure we don’t grow too quickly, as I want to make sure we retain the essence of who we are and our style isn’t diluted by having too large a team working on too many projects: I like to be heavily involved with each and every one. I love what I do and am too much of a perfectionist not be able to spend sufficient dedicated time on each project and client we work with.
Q. How long have you lived in your current home?
We moved in two days before Christmas in 2012. So it’s been almost five years, which seems crazy as that time has flown by. It is my dream home, I feel so lucky to live here and I don’t think the novelty will ever wear off.
Q. Which is your favourite room?
Currently, it’s my daughter Ava’s nursery, as that is the room I designed most recently. It was so fun sourcing items from far and wide, including the cot and chandelier from LA. It was a dream come true to design a nursery for my own baby after having designed so many for clients.
Q. When designing a room, what is the most important factor for you?
The questions at the forefront of my mind at every stage are: Is this practical? Will it be liveable and comfortable? I want our clients to be able to enjoy their spaces and not feel scared to relax in their homes.
Q. Do you have any tips for decorating with white?
I love using white in all our projects; it adds a crisp contrast in all schemes, whether you are going for a light or dark palette overall. For me, it’s important to have some white in every room – even if it’s just the architraves, skirting and cornice – as it helps show off the wall coverings or finishes. I often use a patterned fabric that has a white background colour for cushions on sofas and beds. All the bed linen and towels we use in our projects are white; I like how crisp and timeless they are and we often use The White Company bed linen and towels as their price point is reasonable and the quality is great.
Q. Are there any tricks of the trade to make small spaces look bigger?
Apart from the ones that we all know – adding lots of mirrors – I would say make sure you have lighting from lots of different sources, for example, integrated lighting in shelving and table lamps in corners, as it will draw your eye to the furthest point in the room. Also don’t use small rugs, use the biggest possible rug you can that allows at least the front legs of your sofas or armchairs to sit on them. Small rugs make rooms feel smaller. Also ensure your window treatments are hung as high up and far to the side as possible for curtains. It will make your room feel taller, larger and therefore so much brighter by not having the fabric cover the window when they are drawn open.
Q. What do you think is the easiest way to refresh a room without completely redecorating it?
Restyling and organising a space should never be underestimated. Even in my house, I tend to accumulate objects on the surfaces and shelves. Every few months, I take everything off and restyle the accessories; I generally end up taking ten per cent of it away to make it feel fresher and less cluttered. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a minimalist, but moving things around gives you a renewed enthusiasm and appreciation for your own home.
Q. When it comes to lighting, are there any rules for what you should and shouldn’t use in different rooms?
There aren’t any set rules, but think about where the light is going, rather than where it is coming from. Don’t fall into the trap of just plotting a grid on your ceiling and putting a rectangle grid of down lighters in. Try and move them closer to the walls so they shine light down the wall, which will pick up any textures, wall coverings or art, for example. Consider where there might be a plinth with a sculpture, or a table, where you want to have a down lighter directly above. Put all your table lamps on a five-amp circuit so you don’t waste ten minutes every day turning them on and off individually.
Q. What are your favourite homeware pieces from our current collection?
The Savoy Bed Linen collection is a classic that I have used in projects for years. I chose it because it’s not only timeless, but wears well in the wash, too. I love the delicate grey embroidery border, small details like this never go amiss. The Grey Linen Napkins are rustic chic and I use them for all our meals, even if it’s just a quick breakfast for my husband and me, as it makes it feel more special. They also look chic as hand towels in guest bathrooms.
The Savoy Towels in White Pebble are another favourite – white towels are great but they can look boring, so I love the elegant border detail on these. The colours work very well with the Calacatta Oro marble in my bathroom. The Floating Photo Frame, with a delicate brass border, is very understated and I like how you can see the wallpaper through it. I’ve styled it on the floating shelves in Ava’s nursery with a photo from when she was a tiny baby. For scent, I love Fresh Fig and the Wild Mint smells so refreshing in bathrooms.