Monday, 23 April 2012

Investment interiors

A truly welcoming and atmospheric home needs time, taste, and pieces with lasting power

Written by Sarah Berry

I'm often asked what one should invest in when it comes to interior design.  I believe that homes are made over time, and to create a truly atmospheric and welcoming environment you should be prepared for your interior to evolve and grow with you and to invest in key pieces that enhance your life both practically and aesthetically.  The only rule about this is to invest in pieces you really love.  

Forget what your neighbours are up to, fashions or what people think and go on your gut instinct.  For items to have longevity in your home and to get the best out of your investment you need to start off by liking them a lot.

Unlike many interior designers, I don't believe in buying things for the sake of filling space.  It should be done at your pace and as your budget allows.  I'd far rather see a slightly empty house than one that is filled with sub par, poor quality pieces of cheap furniture that will end up in landfill.  Swedish superstores definitely have their place, but try and save the money you'd spend on the flat packs and save it for later, in other words, live with less until you can buy what you love.

I do have a few areas where I suggest focussing your efforts and expense and building up a core set of pieces and then expanding on these with time.  Like a good wardrobe, there are a few fundamentals that make everyday life better and easier and like the little black dress are vital building blocks for your décor.

These areas fall into three categories; eating, sleeping and sitting:


interiors chair

Dining table: buy a good size, as big as possible, and a simple shape in a good quality material.  Wood or glass are a good bet and tend to be enduring in style.  Look for clean lines and classic colours.  A dining table often becomes the epicentre of the home, perfect for spreading out Sunday crosswords, homework, baking, and gossipy get togethers.  Invest in simple, comfortable upholstered chairs, these don't have to be expensive but should ideally have high backs and encourage long, languid dinner parties.  I really like these Heals chairs, the shape is elegant and the price is great at £275.


Invest in a good bed.  Possibly the best investment you can make - you spend half your life in bed so get a good one. Make your bed super comfy and functional and invest in good linens with a high thread count, good quality down duvets and pillows, bedside tables (with drawers) and lamps.  Have an upholstered headboard made in a beautiful soft fabric.  These few simple things make a bedroom come together quickly and easily. Bespoke window treatments: in your bedroom have your blinds or curtains professionally made with blackout lining and have them fitted properly, this will impact hugely on your life as most people (without realising) it need proper darkness to get good quality sleep, so the investment of bespoke curtains or blinds is really an investment in your quality of life.  If your curtains are well made, fit your window properly and are hung effectively they will also help to block out sound from outside so traffic and noisy neighbours should bother you less.  

Bespoke window treatments also mean a great opportunity to have some fun choosing a fabric you really love and having it tailored to your space so will be unique and beautiful as well as fabulously practical - win win.

interiors bedroom


Sofa.  Spend as much as you can afford.  There is little worse than a rubbish sofa, a good sofa will last you for years and can be passed onto grateful friends, children etc when you're ready to change style. Again think in terms of longevity so buy something with simple, classic lines and upholster in something hard wearing and plain (patterns date quickly).  Classic styles are a good bet and you simply have to physically try before you buy so spend a Saturday afternoon sitting on as many as you can to see what you do and don't like.  

interiors sofa

interiors light

Don't forget to check for 'plumpability' i.e. how much plumping and maintenance will be required, high maintenance cushions are tiresome but equally, hard foam cushions are just plain depressing.  Modular sofas work well for family homes and have a contemporary feel but are often too big for the space they're in so take proportion and scale into consideration, and vitally, draw up a floor plan before you start looking at sofa sizes so you can be realistic about what your space can accommodate.  

Blow the budget: a statement light is a true investment piece and every home should have one.  Whether it's a vintage crystal beauty or a modern steel and perspex combo, a statement light is the perfect fusion of form meets function, provides a great talking point and sets the tone for the rest of your interiors.  Play with scale and be bold and imaginative, treat it as a piece of art and choose something that really excites you.

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