Sophie Paterson Shares the Secret to Great Interior Design
Sophie Paterson has the great combination of tenacity and business acumen, with creativity and a natural talent for style. These skills have seen her rise through the ranks to head her own studio, Sophie Paterson Interiors, and become a renowned name across the interior industry. Her portfolio covers features many stunning projects that cover a variety of homes and styles from a luxury Chelsea Apartment to a sprawling Urban Family Home. Sophie talks to us below about the secret to great interior design and how she overcame career challenges to be where she is today…
What is the secret to great interior design?
I’m not sure it’s a secret but I think the key to good interior design is really prioritising the functionality of the space and not just going for something that will look good in a photo. Having lived in various properties that I have designed myself I have learnt on a personal level how important comfort and practicality are- little things like having a table in reach of all your chairs so you can put down your drink, having fabrics that don’t give you a nervous tick every time someone sits on them, sofas that feel comfortable to sit on, rugs that disguise stains, wall coverings that resist scratches and marks. I think if you are designing high-end residential projects and you haven’t lived in one of the interiors you have designed you could be tempted to prioritise aesthetics over functionality but it’s never the right choice. Every client and every home needs to take practicality and comfort into account in order to be truly luxurious. Otherwise you are just living in a show home not a real home.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when setting up your own interior design studio?
There were many challenges- getting trade accounts is one hurdle that springs to mind- you need trade account references to set up most trade accounts so convincing the first fabric house to give you a trade account is quite hard work! I remember being interviewed by Zoffany and Andrew Martin for a trade account which was daunting at the time. Now I look back and think what was I worried about but you have to constantly push yourself and challenge yourself to grow so things that I used to get phased by don’t even register with me now as a stressful situation.
When I look back at every single step and job I’ve done to get where I am now I think it is a blessing I didn’t fully realise everything that was involved in setting up and running a successful design studio when I first set up at the age of 24. There is so much more to it than just design- accounting, HR, marketing, recruitment, networking, to name just a few of the areas that take up my days.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Stop worrying about everything that could go wrong and start thinking about all the things that could go right. In reality you will find a solution to any problem that you come up against but if you think about everything that could go wrong for too long you’ll end up procrastinating or even failing to try.
How would you describe your own home style and what is your favourite room in your home and why?
My home is classic contemporary with a little rustic chic thrown in. My favourite room is either the kitchen or my TV room because they are so relaxing to spend time in. My TV room has so many layers of gorgeous textures and comfort that it is like a cocoon of a room that hugs you and my kitchen is such a great space for socialising in and I love the views across the garden from all the French doors.
If you could design the interior for any space in the world, from the Taj Mahal to the Sydney Opera House, where would you choose and why? Haha, I get asked this question all the time and to be honest I don’t have a particularly interesting answer- to me the ideal project isn’t just about the building it’s about the combination of the building, the client, the brief and the budget. If you get all those things right then the magic happens!
What is your favourite type of project to work on and do you have a most memorable project you can share?
I like working on complete refurbishments where you get to see a total transformation and I prefer to do whole houses or apartments rather than just a few rooms as I always feel that the rooms that are left feel even worse after you’ve renovated the others to a very high standard.
*One of my most memorable projects was designing the nursery for our Cobham project after we had designed the rest of the house, we had left this room earmarked as a future nursery. Unveiling the room to the clients was such an emotional and great experience- they were in tears, we were in tears and even our builder was spotted wiping a tear away! It was such a special room and turned out so beautifully.
Another very memorable experience was the handover of our Knightsbridge apartment project last year. The client was very trusting with the design direction and didn’t visit the project once in the year renovation. When we handed over the project as a complete turnkey project we had even put their personal photos in the photo frames, lit the candles and had flowers arranged in the vases. Their reaction is one I will never forget, to this day it puts a smile on my face. Again there were tears of happiness all round (and I’m really not an overly emotional person despite how it’s coming across in this answer!) I think it was just so special to see their reaction and see how much they loved it. It’s why we all do this job.
How would you spend your dream day off?
If I was in London then I’d either go to Scotts, Zuma or Roka for a long lunch with my husband and baby daughter. Food is one of my passions – often I can be eating one meal whilst planning my next! After that I’d check into the spa at the Corinthia for some pampering. The interiors and treatments there are spectacular.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
One place where I really relax and switch off is my in laws’ home in Ranch Santa Fe in California. The weather, the beautiful location with the gorgeous beaches so nearby, the food, the activities- I love tennis and hiking (and shopping!!) and the company is a great combination. I generally don’t love staying in hotels so this is one of my favourite places to go to switch off. Generally we visit once or twice a year during the winter to break up the long UK winters.
What are your top three tips to keeping interiors on trend this year? * Embrace metal finishes such as bronze and antique brass. Not only are they more on trend than chrome but this is a trend that has longevity – it is quite a classic look so won’t look dated in 5 years.
Colour wise I am loving burgundy red as well as warm tones like almond and rust on a neutral base.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an interior designer?
Good question. I really don’t know! I love organising things and I’d also need something creative so perhaps working in marketing or maybe a party organiser.
What does this year hold for Sophie Paterson Interiors? We are completing some very large projects this year- a multi-unit project in Marylebone comprising of a townhouse, an apartment and all the communal spaces within a high end development, a 13,000 square foot new build house in Chelmsford, an apartment in Marbella, a grade II listed apartment in Knightsbridge, an apartment in Mayfair and a grade II listed apartment in Belgravia. We are also expanding our team to allow for the large new projects we have lined up for later this year.
If you are an interior designer or architect and wish to set up a trade account with Amara then head to the new trade accounts page to see how you could apply. Alternatively, contact the dedicated trade team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.