Obsessed with interior design from a young age, Sophie Robinson went on to become one of the most sought after interior designers and stylists in the UK today. With a colour-filled career working with BBC Good Homes Magazine, she also has a successful freelance company where she has worked closely with many high profile publications and interior companies and is a judge on The Great Interior Design Challenge with the hit show’s third season on TV on soon. Sophie has been chosen as this year’s Amara Interior Blog Awards star host due to her spectacular expertise in the design industry; here she talks to us about her favourite projects and what we can expect in the next season of The Great Interior Design Challenge…
How would you describe your individual interior style?
My own style is very colourful and relaxed. I love clashing textiles, prints and patterns and playing around with unexpected colour combinations. I’m also a lover of patterned wallpaper, on ceilings, furniture as well as walls. Overall my home feels eclectic and organic, with lots of sentimental touches. I feel your home should feel unique to you.
Do you spend as much time styling your own home as you do your clients’?
No! I think this is really common with designers. However we’re looking to move at the moment, so I’m really looking forward to my next interior design project, and getting really stuck in.
What was your favourite project from the last series of The Great Interior Design Challenge?
From Series 2 I have to say I loved Martins Artists studio that he created in Brixham. It was so thoughtful and had lovely original touches, like his paint brush palette hooks. I also loved Kelly’s boy’s room in Kent- it was a striking scheme of cobalt blue, emerald green with a giant cloud light. It had all the magical and playful qualities that you’d expect in a child’s room.
What exciting new challenges can we expect from the third series?
I don’t know where to start. As if designing a room in less than a week and then executing it in under 48hrs for people you’ve never met wasn’t hard enough! But as it’s the third series there are lots of twists and surprises, of which I can’t tell you- so you’ll just have to tune in!
You have joined with co-judge Daniel Hopwood to offer exclusive interior design masterclasses, how do your different talents, experience and expertise combine to provide a comprehensive look into interior design?
Daniel and I come from very different parts of the Interior Design Spectrum. He’s architecturally trained, has incredible technical knowledge and knows how to pull together schemes to impress some of the wealthiest clients in the country. My job in magazines has always been about empowering and enabling people to create their dream home themselves, without the help of a professional. This often means focusing on affordable solutions with ideas that are effective yet easy to achieve. We are the perfect working partnership, Daniel specializes in spatial planning and design process and I talk about my passion for colour and styling a room.
Do you have a favourite type of design project you like to be involved with?
Right now working on The Great Interior Design Challenge I have my dream job. The next design project I can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into will be designing my dream house (when we find it).
You are renowned for your bold use of colour in your room styling, what are your top tips for adding more daring shades to interiors?
Daniel has a great phrase ‘it’s only paint!’ and I have to agree. Paint is one of the most affordable and transformational ways to instantly get a striking new look in your home. If you’re still terrified, try areas like the hallway, guest room or downstairs loo to dip your toe into a daring new hue. They’re spaces you don’t dwell in too long so can be more adventurous.
The next level is to introduce a punchy shade in your accent colours- a striking vibrant rug on the floor, oversized drum lampshades, a large art canvas and a collection of cushions can transform the blandest interior.
What is the first thing you do after receiving the brief for a new design project?
The time you spend on research is really valuable. I usually start on the internet as that’s the most convenient for me, as a busy working Mum, and as I’m based in Brighton it means I can keep up to date with everything that’s going on in design. I find Pinterest a great tool to pull together images that I want to use on my mood board. I also keep a database of my own favourite images which I can pool from.
Do you have a key feature or element which your projects would never be complete without?
Cushions! It’s a bit of an in house joke with Daniel and I. I think you can never have enough. I love to see cushions stacked deep on a sofa, on armchairs and across the bed, as it’s a way to introduce unexpected pattern, colour and texture to a scheme, not to mention making a space feel cosy. Whenever I do a photoshoot the assistant is always amazed at the amount of cushions I call in, but I do like to have choice. Daniel on the other hand is a cushion fascist, with his rule of only one cushion per person!
What key pieces of advice were you given at the start of your career that you still give to amateur designers today?
“You’re only as good as your last job.” Being freelance gives you lots of freedom and exciting opportunities but it gives you zero job security. The first stylist I assisted told me that you always need to give it 101%, as that’s the only card you have to get recommended for your next job. It’s stood me in good stead and means I work really hard to exceed peoples’ expectations.