Never before have we spent so much time in our own homes. Events of the past year have changed how we use our living space and will continue to influence the way we view the four walls around us for years to come. As interiors designers, Natalie Stephenson and Juliette Wright have seen first-hand the ways in which people are altering their homes to reflect the status quo. We asked them to tell us more.
What’s new in the world of interiors right now?
NS: We’ve seen a real shift in the way people are using their homes and the bar has definitely risen in terms of what people want their home to be able to achieve. We’ve seen a move from open plan to what we call ‘broken plan’, where people are looking to separate open plan living spaces to meet their new working from home environments with subtle variations, such as a different flooring, or perhaps glass sliding doors. This creates separation when required but also allows the space to be opened and fully utilised in the evenings and at weekends.
JW: The impressive ‘Zoom background’ is a new design challenge we now include within nearly every project brief; our clients want this to be appropriate yet give a hint of their personalities.
We see clients gearing up to entertain from the comfort and safety of their home. An impressive working home bar has become a fun bolt on to many of our projects at the moment with wine displays, games tables and naturally in the standard of their favourite London haunts.
What effect has the ‘Working from Home’ phenomenon had on interiors?
JW: The home office has, understandably, become very important but there is a difference in what people want from a home office and a home study. WFH means people require an office to use 9 to 5 but many people also want a space where they can read, perhaps have the laptop open, but it’s a space they would use in a more relaxed manner.
NS: While there will be a return to the office for many, there’s going to be much more flexibility in the ability to work remotely and people are realising that they will need a permanent space in their home from which they can work.
One of our recent clients wanted almost an entire floor of their home dedicated to work space, with a kitchenette and gym etc so they can keep the two sides of their lives very separate.
How is it affecting people’s purchasing decisions?
NS: More and more people are moving out to Surrey from the city because they no longer need to be there for work, which means they can afford to buy bigger homes and spend more making their home the best it can be. Seamlessly integrated AV and lighting is one of those things people seem to be spending more on, but it’s not just about practicalities – comfort really is king and bespoke furniture and upholstery is a key way to get the most out of a space.
JW: It’s our job as interior designers to get into the heads of our clients and how they live their lives to establish what ways the design of their home can not only be practical but a beautiful, comfortable space for them to enjoy.
What other local companies do you work with and recommend?
JW: We worked with Mark Kavanagh of Future Light Design and Cornflake Audio Visual on our stunning showroom, The Post House, in East Horsley, and would always recommend them. The space enables us to show clients our own furniture collection and how the different aspects of interior design can work together in a home.
NS: We collaborated with local artist Jan Erika [who has featured in a previous spotlight] on some of our pieces of furniture and would always recommend Saligo in Cobham for amazing antique mirrors. Tyson London is also a treasure trove of sculptures, lamps and rock crystals.Natalie and Juliette’s furniture collection launches on LuxDeco this month as part of the Think Big Shop Small. Stephenson Wright can be found at The Post House, Ockham Road South, East Horsley, Surrey, KT24 6RX. To book a showroom appointment visit stephensonwright.com.