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Giovanna Averill Interiors / Interior Design  / The Best of Interior Design: A Chat with Sophie Paterson

The Best of Interior Design: A Chat with Sophie Paterson

I’ve been enamoured for quite some time now with British luxury interior design. Layered and sumptuous in quality, there is an attention to detail, craftsmanship, and an unabashed elegance that is inspiring. 

My interest in this “type” of design has influenced my own interiors aesthetic and eventually lead me to the work of UK interior designer extraordinaire, Sophie Paterson, principal and founder of Sophie Paterson Interiors I’ve been an avid follower of Sophie’s work from the early days of her practice and it’s been exciting to follow her design journey and learn from her creativity . Dually based in London and Surrey, Sophie and her talented team have produced without question some of the most beautiful, engaging and impeccably curated spaces in the industry. Her private clients and ever-growing social media following (soon to surpass 200K devotees) apparently agree.

It’s hard to not want to showcase all of her work, so choosing pictures for this article was what I would call a painfully pleasant task! That said, I hope it’s enough to give you a sense of her phenonmenal portfolio if you aren’t already familiar with her work.

Finally, I must say that I  consider Sophie to be a “virtual”  mentor on the art and practice of elevated design.  From my earliest point of contact with her to present she has been nothing but generous with her time and answers to my questions – so am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to connect with her again recently  to have a broad discussion around interior design. Enjoy!

 

 

Hello Sophie!
Since we last touched base you and your husband Kevin Paterson have welcomed your first child, Ava, into your lives.  
We have all delighted in the pictures and stories you share on social media about your beautiful girlHow has becoming a mother intersected with your role as a professional woman and director of your own business?

It’s a definite balancing act! I am happier than ever and feel more grounded since becoming a mother- it puts everything into perspective and I have a new ability to multitask and be efficient like never before!

           Ava’s nursery: Image courtesy of Sophie Paterson Interiors

Your interior design aesthetic has clearly resonated with followers worldwideand with a seemingly equal representation of male and female admirersHave you been able to identify that special quality in your work and/or personal life that people respond to so enthusiastically?

I really don’t know! I can see which photos are more popular and it’s a real mix. I think the key thing is to be authentic – I don’t massively plan any of my posts, they reflect what I am doing or thinking about in that moment and I think that’s what social media should be about -a true insight into different worlds of the people you follow, albeit an edited snapshot!

Photography Credits: Ray Main 
You recently participated as a featured designer in Holiday House London to benefit breast cancer. Can you tell us a bit about your team’s vision for the (kitchen) space and how executing a design within a charitable framework differs from designing for a private client?
 
We wanted to stay true to our ethos of liveable luxury that is a classic design and won’t date, it’s very different designing for a showcase rather than a private client as you set your own brief and there are no limitations so some designers might want to make the biggest statement possible design-wise but I wanted our room to whisper luxury and be a room you could imagine yourself living in. In terms of the palette we took inspiration from the garden that would be viewed outside the property and summers in Provence choosing the hand painted De Gournay wisteria wallpaper and then customising the colours to make it more neutral and more appropriate to the time of the year- we ended up with lots of bronze, golden tones, olive green, taupe and cream which I then picked out in the upholstery and furnishings. 
  
  Images: Courtesy of Sophie Paterson Interiors  

Your firm is an extremely busy yet highly organized one – what systems have you put in place to maintain this level of operation that other professionals may be able to learn from?

We have weekly meetings about each and every project, regular site visits, and above all I have an extremely dedicated, talented and organised team all of whom have an eye for detail. Sadly there is no software that can do that!

  Images: Courtesy of Sophie Paterson Interiors

 

What does the SPI design process look like from client enquiry to the reveal of the finished project? 

It’s a long process! Most of our projects are over 6-24 months- We follow set stages but I’d need 3-4 pages to talk you through it all!! 

(Ha ha…next time!)

   Image: Courtesy of Sophie Paterson Interiors

 

As designers we know that finding and working with one’s “ideal client” is often the key to a smooth and successful project. Who is your ideal client and what do you consider “red flags” that would cause you to decline a project?

We have a real mix of international clients from all over the world and I have loved the variety that brings to our job and work. Red flags might include a client who has already gone through several designers, it doesn’t always mean there is an issue but I like to understand what has gone wrong previously so I can fully understand the situation and how their expectations weren’t met before.

How have you integrated technology within your design process and in what ways has it benefited the work your firm produces
 
We use technology at all stages but one area that particularly stands out for me right now is our use of 3d rendered images that are photo realistic. It gives the client the chance to see exactly what their room will look like before it’s finished and it has really helped our clients feel ready to give the go ahead on their project.

            CGI Images: Courtesy  of Sophie Paterson Interiors

 

Perhaps more so now than in generations past, professional men are taking a keen interest in interior design as they come to recognize its value to an elevated daily experience and to their personal brands. Is this something you have noticed in your own practice and if so does your design process change when you and your team design for a professional man vs. professional women vs. families?

We mostly design for families, although we have done residences for individuals too. There are of course differences in the aesthetic and or requirements but the process remains the same. Sometimes designers can make the mistake of projecting what someone’s taste should be depending on who they are – i.e. a bachelor would want something dark, sleek and masculine but I’ve found often there is overlap between what men and women want from their homes and our projects tend to be a mix and masculine and feminine influences with maybe some rooms more masculine but always some lighter more feminine touches too. It’s all about balance and not opting for a theme.
   Photography Credit: Ray Main
  Kevin Paterson’s dressing room,  Photography Credit : Ray Main

 

We’ve all heard the overused term “man-cave” to describe a masculine space. Your husband Kevin’s home office is a gorgeous space- masculine yet not formulaic.  What is your advice for producing a luxury masculine interior devoid of the typical design clichés like overstuffed leather couches, dominating electronics or the use of only dark schemes? 

Haha! He has a leather sofa, a Big Apple Mac desktop  and the room is dark! But in truth the reason it’s not formulaic is because it is tailored to him and his tastes, I designed it with him – I took him to suppliers to choose the wallpaper and fabrics so he could feel a part of the process  (from a pre-edited selection) I showed him each and every piece as we went along and I used a lot of antique furniture and art to add character. I’ve mixed different eras and styles from the contemporary swivel armchairs and high gloss Macassar ebony coffee table to the antique Louis Vuitton trunk and Georgian mahogany desk. My husband has impeccable taste and being Scottish he has lived and been in some beautiful historic buildings and so whilst he loves all my interiors this more traditional style with some contemporary twists felt right for him.
      Kevin Paterson’s home office,  Photography Credit : Ray Main  

 

 Based in Britain you have the pleasure of living amongst some spectacular historical architecture. We have comparatively less of this architectural currency in North America. Do you think design aesthetics differ between European and a North American clients or are we such a global society now that these differences are dulled?

 
In some ways as a nation we become complacent by our surroundings and so tourists often make more time to appreciate the things we have on our doorstep than we do. I do have a particular interest in historic buildings and am surrounded by some amazing ones, I often go and see stately homes via the national trust and this certainly influences me. Not necessarily in style but perhaps different furniture arrangements or textiles or use of colour. However I think with the internet anyone no matter where they live can be inspired by historical architecture and some of my favourite accounts I follow on Instagram cover American historical homes.

Interior design has become quite a hot area of interest for many consumers chasing that “designer look” for their homes. They are bombarded with print, digital and media sources for elevated design on a daily basis. Is this a positive thing in your opinion, or as designers, are we selling a standard of design not achievable by the average person?
 
It’s a positive thing for me on a personal level as Instagram has led to several wonderful projects from clients who otherwise might need to have found me. I think everyone can get inspired by a look and even if they can’t replicate it exactly on their budget they can interpret it using more affordable options. 
                                         Photography Credits: Ray Main 
     Sophie Paterson’s  principle bath, Photography Credit: James Balston
 
You’ve recently rebranded – but if you had to start your design business again from scratch, what are two things would you do differently and two things you would repeat?
 
My logo hasn’t changed much- we tweaked it about 4 years ago but we just recently relaunched the website with more projects and more up to date, regular posts. From the beginning I got professional photographs of the projects I was able to shoot and this is something I would recommend to all new designers to start building their portfolio with high quality images ASAP. In terms of doing something differently I don’t have any regrets- I feel like it’s all worked out how it was meant to. 
                         Image Credit: Avenue Litho

 

As your business has matured and your team has expanded, how would say your style of leadership has changed?

I’d like to think it’s more about empowering others rather than micro managing but I am still very hands on in all areas of the business, purely because I love it and am interested in all areas. I have learnt to delegate the things that aren’t necessary for me to be involved in such as admin tasks or accounting so that I can focus on areas such as the design work with my designers and business development.

Design can be a tough business. How do you handle stressful timesfailure, and project glitches?
 
I have a very supportive husband who I can always talk to and I honestly wouldn’t be able to do half the things I do without his support. I also am surrounded by an amazing team. If a project doesn’t go ahead for us it isn’t an issue as we have several others in the pipeline we can focus on instead. In terms of stress I do Pilates twice a week which really helps. On the failure front I don’t ever waste time thinking about something that hasn’t worked out I always move forwards and focus on other projects, if anything a ‘No’ just spurs me on to do better and try harder elsewhere! 

 

You are known for your grey, neutral and tailored interiors. Do you think there is a fundamental difference in design approach and personality amongst designers who embrace the use of a lot of pattern and bold colour vs. those who use more neutral soft palettes?

Haha! No I just think people have different tastes. We use a lot of varied colour but in a delicate way on a neutral base. I am friends with a lot of other interior designers who are known for using lots of bright colour and despite this we can really relate to and appreciate each others work. I think design is partly experience and  partly intuitive and so your ingrained style and life experiences give each designer their own distinctive take on what any one interior might need.

  Image: Courtesy of Sophie Paterson Interiors
         Photography Credit: Ray Main
 
SPI fans are eagerly anticipating your second new design book (Style and Glamour being your first – and one that I personally own and have enjoyed).  Can you tell us the genesis of the decision to do another book and what its focus will be?
 
I have wanted to do another one for ages, I took the first book out of publication this year as I feel it is now outdated and so I knew it was time. Plus I was getting so many enquiries. I don’t have it all figured out yet but I’m going to spend my Christmas break putting some time into it. It’s something I’m really excited to do! 
Photography Credit: Lauren Mitton
What’s one thing about you that your followers would be surprised to learn?
 
Hmm… I am quite open so I’m not sure there’s much left. I speak Spanish which often surprises people.

Muchas gracias Sophie! 🙂

 

The impeccably beautiful work of Sophie Paterson Interiors can be enjoyed on their new website at www.sophiepaterson.com, and be sure to follow her on the social media outlets as listed on her site.

 


Introductory post image : Credit:  SheerLuxe
DISCLAIMER: It is important to us that we correctly credit the source of  featured images.  If you think a credit may be incorrect or overlooked, please contact us at info@giovannaaverillinteriors.com

 

 

Giovanna Averill