I don’t normally write about trends. Don’t get me wrong, trends are fun, and they can bring unexpected inspiration. And as a designer, it’s part of my job to be aware of emerging trends. It’s just I don’t think people should be led by trends, and I think too many new-year-new-trend posts can perpetuate this. So this post isn’t one of those. I won’t be telling you what colour I think will be hot this year, or what material you should be sourcing for your kitchen island unit. Instead, I’ll be talking about how I think 2021 is an important one for interior design. After 2020, the year we stayed at home, our relationship with our homes has changed dramatically, and even when (hopefully) covid is a distant memory, I’m sure lockdown living will have a lasting impact on our homes.
So here’s how I think the pandemic has changed how we design our homes, and the general trends we might see as a result in 2021…
More Multifunctional Spaces
Staying at home means working from home, learning from home and teaching from home. And most of us have compromised with our space in some way, at some point. The kitchen table has seen it all. It has been a craft table, school table, office and breakfast spot. Many a spare room has become a make-shift office. But even after the pandemic eases, the reality will be more working-from-home, and more learning-from-home than before. So it makes sense that we’ll be looking to create stylish work and learning zones within our homes, and often they’ll be within rooms or spaces that already have a function. Homes will need hard-working, multifunctional spaces and in the long-term these have every right to be as beautiful as the rest of the home.
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to focus our mind on health and wellbeing. There’s also nothing quite like lockdown restrictions to make us crave the great outdoors. Biophilic design has becoming increasingly popular but expect to see more in the coming year. It’s all about connecting with the natural world through design, and is aimed at promoting wellbeing. Adding plants is a good start but there’s also so much more. Think natural patterns, organic shapes and designs that work with, and maximise natural light and space.
Online shopping has been a saviour throughout lockdowns. But let’s be honest, it’s not the same as browsing the shops in person, and I’m sure most people at some point have found it hard to get hold of exactly what they want or need. Many people have also found themselves with more time (although with 4 children at home all day during lockdown I can confirm I am not one of those people!) so it’s not surprising that people are becoming more creative, and more resourceful. With more time to craft, knit, draw, paint and generally DIY, 2021 could see a much more imaginative and inventive approach to making a home. And that’s before we discuss the increasing financial hardship faced by many which means that being resourceful and reworking your home with what you have already got will be here to stay for a while.
The shopping that we are doing has become more considered. It’s not as easy to pop into a showroom, fall in love with a piece and hand over our credit card. Instead, there’s a greater need (and opportunity) to research, to think, to consider. Its been a thought-provoking year in other ways too; diversity, sustainability and environmental issues have all been under the spotlight. I suspect (or hope) as a result there’ll be a shift in shopping patterns; that there’ll be a move towards sustainable materials, support for local and independent brands, and a move to promote and support a more diverse range of artists, designers and brands.
Keep it personal
Having spent so much time at home, having really lived in our homes, my hope is that people start designing for themselves. Not for visitors, not for trends and not for resale. People have spent more time than ever within their homes and I’m sure, as a result, now really get what works, and what doesn’t. We’ve all realised the impact out home has on our mood and our wellbeing; we’ve experienced the impact our surroundings have on us. It may be as simple as changing a layout, or decluttering and improving storage. Or it may be taking your maximalist styling to the next level, or embracing a few more minimalist clean lines. I think we’re moving away from needing a perfect home to wanting a home that reflects our family life, that lets us tell our story.
And don’t forget the children
I’ve had so many new enquiries about childrens’ bedrooms, and in the main it’s prompted by a feeling that kids are spending so much more time at home, in their rooms, learning, playing and sleeping that they need (and deserve) and functional happy space to do this. Interior design can have such an impact on mental wellbeing and we shouldn’t forget that this applies to children too. Making sure they have a safe, creative space to play, work and sleep is so important. I think there’ll be some fun childrens’ room designs this year!
2020! The year we stayed at home. The year our doors were closed to guests, and our dining table was used for family mealtimes only. The year we entertained in the garden (when permitted) and our homes had to work harder than ever to fulfil our family, working and social lives. Guest bedrooms became offices, dining rooms became home-schools and living rooms became gyms (thanks to Joe Wicks!).
And here we are just a week into 2021, doing it all again – all elements of our lives merged into one space. This post was meant to be a review-of-last-year post but it seems my observations of how 2020 changed our homes are just as relevant now as we enter lockdown #3.
Obviously as a designer I am all too aware of the power a home has. Good interior design is far more than plumping cushions and hanging curtains; it can completely change the relationship someone has with their home. Our home should be a space we love. It should be our safe space; the place we kick off our shoes, put on our comfiest clothes and relax. It’s the place of laughter as well as tears and tantrums. It’s the place of intimate moments as well as the mundane. It’s where we let our guard down. It’s where life happens.
But our homes weren’t designed with a lockdown situation in mind, and never have they had to work quite as hard for us as they do now. So, how has the pandemic changed the way we use our homes?
It all happens at the kitchen table
The humble kitchen table has seen (and heard!) it all over the past year. It’s no longer reserved for mealtimes (and hasn’t seen a dinner party for nearly 12 months now!). Instead, it’s all things to all people; desk space, arts & craft table, homeschooling space, coffee & newspaper spot, snack-time spot (again!) as well as that sit-and-cry-that-the-world-has-gone-crazy spot. It’s still the place we come together at the end of the day, to share our stories – it’s just that this time, our adventures probably only happened in a different part of the house!
A space for kids to be kids
I do believe that children are more resilient than we necessarily give them credit for. However I also truly believe we need to support and nourish their mental health, especially during these difficult and anxious times. A child’s bedroom is the one place that is truly theirs. A space they should absolutely feel safe in. A space they can be themselves in. And whilst they may now also double as a school-room space (especially for older children), I think it’s even more important that their rooms retain a sense of fun and creativity. Kids need to be able to switch off from school-work, hide away from the reality of the pandemic and play!
Bathrooms providing sanctuary
I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that there are times I’ve wanted to scream for this to all be over. The anxiety, the fear, the noise, the mess, the snacks, the juggling. It can all feel too much, and the bathroom is my go-to, have-a-moment place! Admittedly with a toddler I’m usually not alone for long, but the bathroom is much more than a functional space to shower. It’s an escape. And increasingly over lockdown, it’s a sanctuary for escapism and self-care. Whether it’s a full-on pampering night or just a hot shower to wash away some stress of the day, the bathroom has certainly been upgraded from its often just functional space.
The Outside In
Last year was certainly one of restriction and isolation. Whether lockdown, self-isolation or quarantining, it was easy to feel confined within the walls of your house. Only allowed to leave the house for an hour of exercise a day. Only allowed to leave for essential shopping. However much you love your home, it often felt tough, and it certainly made me crave the great outdoors even more. In summer it was easy, we could open the doors and windows and the house and garden kind of merged into one. This time round, in winter it’s a bit trickier. But (much to my husband’s horror) I still throw open doors and windows – not for long, but just long enough to let a blast of fresh air in. I’ve always been a fan of styling with plants but I’ve appreciated them even more over recent months. The house feels more alive, although you’ve got to remember to water them – dead plants don’t have quite the safe effect!!!
And the Inside Out
Speaking of the outside, we’ve certainly all used our garden space even more than ever. I even looked at buying new garden furniture in October to prolong my use of our outdoor space; usually I’d be covering everything up for the winter. But our outdoor spaces have become even more important to us, to help combat that feeling of confinement, and to give us the breathing space away from a busy household. When permitted, outside has been our only entertaining spot. I’ve kept our garden filled with fairy lights and I’m hoping that when restrictions ease we may be able to have a socially distanced hot chocolate with relatives around a fire-pit. Isn’t it funny how the things we crave have changed over the past year?!
The Heart of the Home
Whether you’re baking banana bread (again!) or handing out the millionth snack of the day, the kitchen really is the heart of the home. Whether you’ve had the energy or time for cooking, or not, there have most definitely been more family meals prepared and served up in kitchens around the country (even if sometimes they are just takeaways). Our cupboards have been stocked, our cupboard space challenged. It’s where we gather to make our morning coffee and listen to the day’s news, or when it all gets too much switch on some feel-good tunes to distract us from what’s going on in the outside world.
But at some point our kitchens will be the hub of the party again. At some point our front door will be open to family and friends and our kitchen tables will see new faces pull up a chair to join us for dinner again. Until then our homes will remain our sanctuary, our safe place away from the world. Our place to turn off the news when we need to, and focus on our family. The reality of that may mean noise, mess and a few tears from time-to-time but we’ll have memories of our 2020/21 homes like no others!
A treasure trove of beautiful interior and lifestyle pieces, COVET is one of my favourite local shops. With a window display guaranteed to provide a feast-for-the-eyes, this is exactly the kind of store in which you can while-away a Saturday afternoon. There’s always something new, something different, something responsibly sourced and made, something with a story. COVET was born from an idea Lorraine had when she took some time away from work after having her first child. Very soon, her dream of opening her own fully-fledged interiors store became a reality and nearly a decade on she has opened a second store in Harrogate.
In this interview, Lorraine talks about her ambition, her stores and what she loves most about running her own business. However, I particularly love Lorraine’s honesty about the challenges of setting-up a business. The commercial, financial, legal, and marketing skill-set required to set up a business is one which, for most people, takes time and external support to achieve. It’s really refreshing to hear an open account of this recognition; I know there will be many small business owners who can relate to these struggles.
Over to Lorraine…
1/ What was the main motivation behind opening your store?
It’s something I’ve always wanted; no further motivation was required! From my earliest memory I played shop and was single-minded about what I liked and disliked, often to my parents’ horror! With an Austrian Mother and a practical Yorkshireman Dad, I was very much influenced by the natural beauty of the Austrian mountain life; a way of life that utilises what is found in nature, and is conscious of the environment. Growing up with this concept of eco-living shaped my personal and business ethos. But I’m also a practical person, which I get from helping my Dad doing-up wrecks of houses! I loved getting my hands dirty and later redesigning spaces; making things beautiful again.
After my first child was born, I was a stay at home Mum and didn’t work for seven years. I felt I had been out-of-the-loop for too long to return to work and thought I would sell accessories from my husbands’ hair salon. This idea grew in my head to a full-blown takeover of the shop. After much negotiating I kicked him out (of the shop!) and opened COVET behind The Grove in Ilkley. There was no capital to invest; I borrowed money to buy stock and to decorate. With a little help from some close friends, my husband and I worked around the clock, sharing housework and childcare to make the business a success.
It was tough, and it certainly feels like we defied all the rules! We had to borrow to get started, we opened in a slump with very little retail experience, yet nearly 10 years on we have two successful shops and I can honestly say it’s the best thing we ever did. If you follow your heart people can see your passion, and that (combined with shear hard work!) goes a long way.
2/ What can we buy from you?
COVET is a treasure trove of interior and lifestyle pieces. You can buy homewares, occasional pieces of furniture (one-offs to cool Danish-designed pieces), clothing, jewellery and accessories. You’ll always find something different and I don’t limit myself to what we sell, it just has to fit our ethos of thoughtful design, Fair-trade, and repurposed or handmade.
3/ Out of everything you sell, what are your favourite pieces?
I love the Berber Boucherouite rugs. They are the under-dog of rugs made by very modest households out of rags. They don’t have the grandiose of the Beni Ourain’s. They are very colourful with the most amazing of tribal and artistic designs. And what is really lovely about them is that they work in so many different interiors; from ultra modern minimalist designs to earthy eclectic ones. As with all the Berber rugs there is no set pattern when weaving. The women elaborate on age-old designs to make unique pieces of art, all in a rug!
It’s hard to pin me down though as I am a bit of a magpie! The jewellery we sell is also very tempting; it’s all handmade, some in the U.K and some in Paris and Israel. And now I’ve starting thinking about it, I could go on, and on listing my favourites! I guess that’s why the shop has so much variety!
4/ What do you love most about running your own business?
The favourite thing about running my own business is it fits around family life. Although it wasn’t always like that. My youngest son was 4 when I started and with no family support I had to put them in after-school clubs and be organised in the holidays, which I found quite stressful and guilty about. I suspect that’s something many working women can relate to.
5/ What has been your biggest challenge to-date?
The business side of opening COVET was a huge learning curve for me. I had never been in a position of authority and, if I’m honest, I was very disorganised. I had no idea how to run anything, let alone doing VAT returns or bookkeeping. These were the things that always put me off getting started and I have had many a tearful midnight meltdown sorting out invoices. I still find being organised difficult however my lovely staff over the years have shown me various practical tools to help. I also now pay an accountant which is money well spent in my eyes!! I’m also slightly dyslexic, even spell check says “no replacement found”. I remember one lady saying to her friend “I’m not buying something if they can’t even spell it”. Thankfully most people smile to themselves or forgive me this detail.
6/ What do you think will be the next interior trends in 2021?
I think we’ll see lots of Neo-Greek style in interiors this coming year; the classics, but perhaps with a twist! That said, whilst I love fashion and trends, my love for nature and craft will always be the underlying factor and I would say that’s the heart of COVET’s ethos and style.
7/ What are you the most proud of?
I am most proud of getting COVET off the ground and still going nearly 10 years on. I am also very proud to play a strong part within Ilkley and Harrogate’s communities. I always have a sense of being on the periphery in a personal capacity so feeling like a belong as a business at the heart of a community is a lovely feeling.
8/ What’s next for you and your brand?
The next step for us, like so many businesses in this era of COVID is to strengthen our online offering. This will be very challenging for me as we are very much a face-to-face service with a bricks-and-mortar tactile shopping space. Nothing will replace this but we will also have to try and translate that store-vibe onto an online shopping experience. We will certainly give it our best shot!
9/ Do you have an ideal celebrity customer?
I’m not a massive follower of celebrity, however I have just finished watching Better Things on BBC and l love Sam and her style. I would be very pleased to see her shopping with us.
You can find COVET stores in both Ilkley and Harrogate in Yorkshire, as well as online at www.covetshop.net
And do check out @covetshops on Instagram too – there’s an abundance of beautiful product and store images!
I love it when I find a brand with stunning products as well as an ethos that makes me smile. So I was utterly delighted when I discovered Collectiviste, a naturally inspired lighting company retailing hand-crafted pendants and lamps made by artisan families in South East Asia and South America. Run by Nicole and her husband Dylan, their collection is carefully curated and sourced with integrity. The lighting is beautiful, the kind that creates a glow perfect for dark winter nights, but which looks equally stunning by day. Nicole talks to me here about how Collectiviste came about, the challenges of running a business with two small children, as well as her thoughts on interior trends for 2021.
So, over to Nicole to tell you a little more about the people behind the brand….
1/ What was the main motivation behind setting up your online store?
My husband, Dylan, and I started Collectiviste Ltd together after many years of working in corporate jobs and many nights spent dreaming up meaningful entrepreneurial ventures. The idea for Collectiviste was finally born after four years of life, work and travel in South East Asia, when we discovered the incredible shell work of the Balinese artisans and dared to imagine a life beyond our corporate nine to five. So, we took the leap into the great start-up unknown and moved back to the UK with a storage unit full of lamps and big dreams. Five years and two babies later, we have made Norfolk our adoptive home and are proud to have a successful family business that is supporting artisan families from South America to South East Asia.
2/ Tell us about your lighting collection
We stock a wide range of lighting, from statement ceiling pendants to unique and unusual table and floor lamps. Every piece is handcrafted by talented artisans using sustainable, natural materials. We work with various independent craftspeople in Bali and Java to make our lighting. We also offer a small range of home decor all handcrafted by amazing artists and indigenous Colombian tribes.
3/ Describe your style in 3 words
Naturally inspired lighting
4/ Do you have a favourite product or piece?
I’m currently in love with our rattan collection and can’t get enough of the shadows that they cast around my house in the evening. My favourite piece is the Medusa rattan lampshade, which is proudly hanging beside me in my office and was featured in World of Interiors magazine in September.
5/ What do you love most about your store?
The fact that every single item that we stock is beautiful and timeless. My house is literally bursting with Collectiviste lamps but they still make me happy and make my house look cosy and dreamy every single night.
6/ What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
We strongly believe that business can be a force for good and being able to run a business that truly reflects your own beliefs and ideals makes it a pleasure to go to work, even on a Monday! I used to have the Sunday night blues almost weekly, but since starting Collectiviste it has disappeared.
7/ What do you think are going to be the next interior trends as we move into 2021?I think people want to fill their homes with items that really resonate with them and make them feel good. Natural, sustainable materials are ideal for this and I think the trends like raffia, rattan, bamboo, cane and kraft are going to be mainstays for the next year.
8/ What are you the most proud of?
That our little business supports artisan families across the globe. Being able to keep supporting livelihoods during the pandemic, especially for people who have much less government support has made us very proud.
9/ What challenges have you faced whilst running your business?
Too many to list! Running a business is such hard work and a major leap of faith. I think trying to manage successfully running and developing the business, whilst ensuring that we enjoy as much time as possible with our two beautiful children, Oscar (4) and Tara (18 months) is a daily challenge. Although being able to take them with us on to Bali for two months this year to source products and meet our artisans was an incredible experience.
10/ What’s next for your business?
We have so many plans for developing the business and so many wonderful artisans that we have met and would like to develop products with, particularly in East Africa and South America. However the current travel restrictions mean that the immediate future will be focused on developing our existing lighting collections. We have, however, developed an exciting new kraft pendant lighting range with our Italian electrical manufacturers and are getting ready to launch a gorgeous new bamboo lighting collection from Bali.
11/ Do you have an ideal celebrity customer?
I’m not big on celebrity culture so probably not! We only just got our first television last week (a Winter lockdown necessity!). For me, nothing beats getting emails and photos from customers telling us how happy they are with their lamps and how it has brightened up their homes. They give me warm and fuzzies every time!
The trend for dried flowers shows no signs of slowing. Sustainable and economical, with minimal maintenance required. It’s the perfect combination! And with more people looking to brighten up their homes during lockdown, it seems the pandemic was a good time for Sarah to launch Horseshoe Flowers, her dried flower studio. With bright, vibrant and artistically curated blooms, her creations are a far cry from the the dusty dried flower arrangements of yesteryear. Beautiful, colourful and designed to last, Sarah’s hand-tied bouquets are limited in quantity and her designs change every month. She’s got some fabulous dried wreaths for the festive season too. Definitely worth a look; I’ve got my eye on the electric blossom wreath!
Here’s Sarah to tell you a little more about the person behind the brand….
1/ What was the main motivation behind setting up your floral studio?
After having spent 15 years working in the fashion industry, I was looking for a new career that would allow me creative freedom whist being able to work for myself. I had a very high stress job before, travelling all over the world and working long hours. I was really looking for something that allowed me to be flexible, offer some work /life balance and enable me to spend more time with my family.
2/ Where did the name Horseshoe Flowers come from?
When my grandmother passed away I took a vintage horseshoe from her house as a memento. It had hung at the back door of their farmhouse, a really special place for me while I was growing up.The horseshoe travelled with me from England to the US, where I lived for 13 years. It had pride of place in my upstate New York house until we moved back to the UK last year when it travelled back across the Atlantic with us! It just seemed right to incorporate it into my new business somehow. So that’s the story of the horseshoe and how it helped me create my new venture!
3/ What do you love most about your work?
I absolutely love working directly with my customers, whether its on a bespoke colourway or specific design, or if it’s working with brides designing their wedding flowers.
4/ Where do you find your inspiration?
I’m inspired by the flowers. When I am shopping for my stock I get so excited about the possibilities! Then I think about colour; colour combinations that would look pretty. I also find ideas in the craziest places, for example the other day I took a photo of the cuttings I had made when making up various bunches because the colours looked so magical together. I’ll then recreate it.
5/ Describe your style.
I have always said, I just wanted my flowers to look vivid and interesting. I can’t stand the dried flowers of old days where they just look like a bunch of dead sticks!!
6/ What’s the favourite floral piece you’ve designed?
A beautiful bridal bouquet I created with preserved hydrangeas and grasses. It started me off thinking about bridal bouquets that can be kept, and how wonderful that would be.
7/ What’s the most popular item you sell?
Our frosted eucalyptus bouquet. It’ll be back in stock soon! We’ve just launched a frosted eucalyptus wreath too.
8/ What are you the most proud of?
That I set up this business, all by myself, during a pandemic whilst on maternity leave and looking after two small children! Lots of late nights were involved!
9/ What challenges have you faced whilst running your business?
Time is my biggest challenge. I have so many more ideas on where to take the business but I just don’t get enough time to get to everything. The orders come first!
10/ What do you love most about running your own business?
I love it that the possibilities are endless, no one is there telling me that it can’t be done.
11/ Who would be your ideal celebrity customer?
I’ve got a bit of a girl crush on Alexa Chung! I’d love to see her with a bunch of my blooms!
12/ What’s next for your floral studio?
We are launching our bridal collections online soon. I’m so excited to offer a simple floral solution to brides who might be overwhelmed by their options. I’m so happy that we can offer something special that can be kept long after the wedding!
Check out Sarah’s gorgeous collection at www.horseshoeflowers.com
And you can see more of her work on Instagram @horseshoeflowers