Wake up to a happy home: how to design a feelgood house | Interiors

A mirror brightens every room: Emil Humbert, designer

Bringing natural light into darker spaces is always a good starting point when it comes to rethinking a room. Mirrors can make a world of difference. Placing mirrors close to windows, at a perpendicular angle, will reflect light deeper into a room, while bringing a reflection of the outdoors inside. Placing the mirror on the opposite wall also works, creating the illusion of an extra window. Using a mixture of tints and styles creates a soulful atmosphere. We create our own contemporary designs – often in brass – and place them alongside the many antique mirrors from all different periods we find in the flea markets of Paris.

Display your drinks in style

As every decent decorator will tell you, the secret to a feelgood front room is always having a handy place to set your G&T down, wherever you happen to be sitting. Invest in some additional side tables, such as this portable beauty (below) by Beata Heuman, which doubles as a place for books, bijoux objets d’art, an extra lamp or, better still, a handy spot for your own dedicated, mood-lifting minibar.

‘See what you are drawn to’: Lucinda Chambers, designer

Lucinda Chambers at her home. London. August 2018
‘See what you’re drawn to at markets, carboots and secondhand’: Lucinda Chambers at home in London. Photograph: Sophie Green/The Observer

You needn’t conduct a major overhaul, just a tweak, rearrangement or new addition can change your space. With shelves, imagine you’re creating a collection. Start with the item you love most, and build from there. They needn’t match, but connect through colour, textile or print. I’ve just rearranged my main shelves; they are full of brown and cream midcentury pottery, and lots of white. Don’t be afraid to rummage through the attic to see what might now make a reappearance. I just found my stash of old wooden shoe lasts, now on display. Avoid being a snob, things don’t need to be valuable: see what you’re drawn to at markets, carboots, secondhand. And when you put something down, remember it need not be its resting place. Pieces are in conversation with each other – move them and the topic will change.

Box clever with better storage

The satisfaction of good storage makes working life more serene and seamlessly productive – meaning you’re happier in the end, too. But rather than going bland or beige, choose something that also brings decorative flair. Harris & Jones have collaborated with British designer Cressida Bell on box files and storage boxes in arresting bold and exuberant designs.


Give your bathroom an upgrade

Flock to it: an inspiring bathroom interior as featured in Wonderland by Summer Thornton.
Flock to it: an inspiring bathroom interior as featured in Wonderland by Summer Thornton

Think decorative objects, comfort and luxe. Scour Facebook Marketplace for small glass-fronted cabinets that you can tart up with some paint, and line the shelves with colourful wallpaper, or a bobbin-detail wooden shelf that can be wall hung to display both unguents and ornaments. To complete the look, invest in a portable light from Pooky in a pretty colour so that when it comes to working through your nightly routine before bed, you can switch off the harsh spotlights in your bathroom and bask in a soft (read: flattering) glow.

Sketch has ditched its pink walls

Give your living room a lift by following the lead of Parisian queen of colour India Mahdavi. In 2014, the interior designer turned the walls of Sketch’s Gallery restaurant “millennial pink”, making it the most photographed interior in London. Now, she’s reimagined the grand space with a textural, copper-hued de Gournay wallpaper and a paint tone she calls “Mandarin au Lait” that cleverly coordinates with the Yinka Shonibare Dutch wax batik pattern artworks that deck the walls. It’s so warm and delicious-looking it practically glows. Replicate its milky orangeness at home with an approximation of the hue that Mahdavi created in collaboration with paint specialists Mériguet-Carrère in Paris, then frame and hang some of the silk bandanas Shonibare created for the Tate… et voilà! You’ll have your own personal Sketch at home.

Get stoned

Rock of ages: combine stones with essential oils
Rock of ages: combine stones with essential oils

You’ve heard of the healing power of stones and essential oils, but combining the two is the double-dose way to relax. For a blissed-out start and end to the day, put an amethyst and soothing sodalite set by Norfolk Natural Living at Crouchers on your nightstand. It’s an eco-conscious brand founded by an aromatherapist, with everything ethically sourced.

Doormats needn’t be dowdy

Give your hallway an easy refresh by dispensing with tired old brush mats that have lost their lustre. Instead, indulge your bolder tastes with a bright and breezy HAY design that signals the fashionability of stripes. Clash, or coordinate, with your existing decor for a mood-boosting walk over the threshold.

A tulipiere is blooming marvellous


Flowers never fail to bring good cheer. Borrowing from the design book of the 18th-century Dutch upper classes, Host Home has given the classic tulipiere vase a modern makeover. Used traditionally to display rare flora and fauna, the tulipiere can be placed on a sideboard, windowsill or shelf in the sightline of your desk. Filled with blooms, it will give you an instant and long-lasting mood elevation.

Bring in the night sky

Sleep is a national obsession so it makes sense that bed linen resembling the night sky is a thing. Dreamy sheets from Tekla and velvety comforters in midnight hues from Caravane are waiting to help send you into nocturnal bliss.
teklafabrics.com; caravane.co.uk

Frame to enhance: Martin Brudnizki, interior architect

Good art is capable of saying a lot more in an interior than all the curtains, chairs and lamps you spent months selecting. It tells a story, reminding us of the place we bought it and who we were with. When it comes to framing, treat the frame as you would fabric on a chair – it should enhance the work of art. Handmade with natural finishes is nicer than shiny, plastic-looking blacks and whites, and subtle shapes and curves in the moulding can help elevate a piece. The mount is equally important. Forgo conventional white and go for black with photography, or look at the colours in the picture and bring those out. Add further details with linen or gilded inserts.

‘Choose upbeat colours’: Joa Studholme, curator, Farrow & Ball

Trend alert: new colours for 2022 from Farrow & Ball.
Trend alert: new colours for 2022 from Farrow & Ball. Photograph: James Merrell

As we turn our backs on winter, we want to take advantage of longer daylight hours and introduce more upbeat colours to our interiors, along with colours that connect us directly to nature. However, this isn’t just painting walls – think outside the box. Painting your windows in a colour like the lively yellow Babouche will create an instant impact, reflecting light to create a sunny hue. Interior doors leading to an outside space work fantastically well if painted in cheerful colours such as Breakfast Room Green, a botanic shade that invites you into the garden before you have got there. And for something comforting and familiar, why not paint a chequerboard floor in Stone Blue and School House White? It can’t help but make you smile.

Make an entrance and go 1970s

Following a stint at Gucci, the London-based artist and homeware designer Gergei Erdei brilliantly conjures ancient Rome and Greece by way of the 1970s – a decade whose decadent styles are currently making a massive comeback in interiors. Nod to the trend and add an instant splash of colour to your entrance way, with one of his playful art prints that recall 70s travel posters.

‘Reflect how you want to feel’: Rachel Vosper, candle chandler and scent expert

Up in smoke: Rachel Vosper hand pours a beeswax candle.
Up in smoke: Rachel Vosper hand pours a beeswax candle. Photograph: Alun Callender/The Observer

Smell is strongly tied to our emotions, so personalisation is key. Try to choose the right scent to reflect how you want to feel in each room. In the kitchen, fresh and light scents such as Ssage, Llemongrass or Eechinacea work well. For bedrooms, hints of patchouli, amber or sandalwood are sexy and mysterious, and when blended with jasmine or rose they become sensual. Bergamot and orange blossom are the perfect scents for making guests feel welcome. Unsurprisingly, healing and uplifting scents are in demand this year, including sage, known to ease negative feelings.

Feel the rainbow

Designer towels may sound like wedding-list territory or something your parents once saved for when guests came over, but since the bathroom is where most of us start and end our day, indulging in a feelgood set for everyday use is an indulgent mood booster.

Make storage a display feature: Gabrielle Omar, architectural designer

There’s no reason why storage can’t be incorporated into your interior design. If you love something, why place it out of sight and mind? Go for brightly coloured bookshelves to match upholstery and freestanding box shelves – rather than placed against a wall – that help divide areas in a room. Repurposing your old furniture into storage solutions is also worth trying. Transform that old rustic wardrobe into a secret library brimming with books. Wall hooks can show off your scarves, towels and fabrics, and also offer them a home. Peg-board walls offer real versatility, storing anything from kitchenware to clothes, and can be reconfigured as your needs change.

Develop a tidying routine: Marie Kondo, author

Find time in your own schedule to tidy. Tidy up in one shot rather than little by little. Intermittent decluttering – donating old clothes every once in a while, or cleaning out storage bins before a move – may provide brief moments of relief, but the clutter will always come back. If you have finished tidying, choose a designated home for each item and get in the habit of putting them back. That will help you easily maintain a tidy space, stopping you from slipping back.

Shake it up and move it around: Laura Jackson, broadcaster and co-founder of Glassette

Throw down a rug: Moussem Moroccan Azilal design, £549
Throw down a rug: Moussem Moroccan Azilal design, £549

Simple changes to your furniture and fittings can transform a space without needing a huge budget. As a schoolgirl, I’d move my bedroom furniture around regularly. Shaking up positions can be as powerful as major buys. Rugs go a long way: a large one can feel like having a whole new floor put down. Weaver Green rugs are made from recycled bottles and look beautiful – and they’re well priced, too. I avoid on-trend or adventurous pieces, which will age quickly. If you’re into a trend, such as chequerboard, start with a coaster, cushion cover or lamp shade rather than retiling the entire house.

Benvenuto Italia

Right now, Italian ceramics are to soft furnishings what pasta has long been to the kitchen – an import that is hot. Bettina Ceramica is one of a group of young brands – see also Hot Pottery and Masseria Potenti – responsible for their current popularity and its Pupa lamp base is a statement way to bring the dolce vita to your bedroom.

Step on it

Bring positive manifestation into your shower or bath time with Christopher Kane’s More Joy mat. The celebrated Scottish designer’s foray into homewares has been a roaring success for bringing a little joy into unexpected places – see also his jute doormats, wall clocks and hot-water bottles.

Get the hang of wallpaper

Yes, wallpaper is back in a big way and even though it might be spenny for a whole room, it’s affordable in small spaces. There are many uplifting patterns and prints to choose from: be sure to check out Fee Greening’s new Heraldic fabric paper and Kate Hawkins’s Lucky Leaf design at Common Room.
feegreening.co.uk; commonroom.co

Roll up your napkins

Whether you like your dinner table high-octane or shabby chic, the details make the difference. Look to napkin rings for an instant boost; a tortoiseshell-effect set from Global Explorer or a cherry design from Maison Margaux will look after both ends of the spectrum and make even kitchen roll look refined.
amara.com; maisonmargauxltd.com

Design books to inspire you

Pearl Lowe brings her laid-back style to coastal living with her book Faded Glamour by the Sea (Cico Books, £25) in a celebration of nostalgic splendour that Lowe describes as “a mix of the gloriously decadent yet well-lived in”.

Laura de Barra takes us on a room-by-room tour of the home to understand the function of each space in Décor Galore, The Essential Guide to Styling Your Home (Transworld, £14.59). It’s a great style guide, with tips on how to fold a napkin or fix the shower.

Summer Thornton’s Wonderland: Adventures in Decorating (Rizzoli International, £32.50) is bursting with ideas that demonstrate her flair for the sumptuous and whimsical.

If you want to know the five timeless rules for transforming your home, take a look at A Modern Way to Live by Matt Gibberd (Penguin Life, £16.99). Gibberd is co-founder of website The Modern House and has been poking around pimped and pioneering homes for 15 years.

DIY On a Budget by Toni Trevillion (Transworld, £16.99) is crammed full of decor hacks, tips and tricks to make small tweaks or big changes to your home.

Have a thing for tiles

Daisy tiles, £135 psqm at ottotiles.com
Daisy tiles, £135 psqm at ottotiles.com

There’s a reason the hashtag #ihave thisthingwithtiles regularly trends: the interiors world has gone mad for them. From the vertiginous-lined streets of Lisbon to the floors of hazy Mediterranean homes, handpainted and retro-infused tiles are where it’s at right now and no wonder: who wouldn’t want to wake up feeling as if they’re on holiday? Otto Tiles’s selection strikes exactly the right chord.

Bring joy with a deep spring clean: Lynsey Crombie, Queen of Clean

In spring-clean mode, always work from the top: start with dry dust and cobwebs on the ceiling and work downwards, or else you’re wasting time. Don’t pressure yourself into a full day of housework – who can be bothered? Simply set yourself a few tasks over time. Make a good playlist, 10 tracks you can dance around to full of gusto. When the music stops, call it a day. And, keep the windows open. If it’s cold, you’ll work hard and fast. Cleaning can change your interior: deep cleaning furniture will bring out a different colour; clearing a lightbulb with a lint roller will change the tones it gives off. Why buy a new sofa when you can scrub that chocolate stain off?

Additional interviews by Michael Segalov