With a little help from designers and curators, we share our tips for spotlighting hero items, whether a beautifully crafted heirloom chair or a handmade dining table, to create schemes that are both energising and thoughtful.
Bigger & Bolder
'Don't shy away from buying large pieces,' says interior designer Beth Dadswell of Imperfect Interiors. 'A generous pendant or dining table will make even a small room feel much grander, and will create drama and atmosphere. It's better to choose a few larger hero pieces for each room than several smaller items. Use mirrors for added emphasis. Hung above the fireplace, a mirror will reflect your statement pendant beautifully, whilst a tall pair hung either side of a bed will add an element of grandeur and symmetry to the space.' Removing superfluous pieces will elevate those that truly bring you joy, creating an aesthetic that is not so much minimalist as considered.
Scaling up applies to both your bed and bedlinen too, even in a compact room. At our Houses, from the generous four posters at Babington to the hand-blocked textiles of Soho House Mumbai, the bed and its linens are always the main event in a bedroom scheme. Consider a generous headboard for impact and comfort. 'Updating a simple rectangular shape to a sculptural, scalloped velvet adds instant glamour, making your bed the hero of the room,' says interior designer Cat Dal. The same logic applies to linen - try buying a size bigger than your bed for luxe appeal. Swap your standard pillows for bigger 50 x 90cm versions and add square bolster cushions behind them too, ideal for reading in bed.
Beth Dadswell of Imperfect Interiors
A generous pendant or dining table will make even a small room feel much grander, and will create drama and atmosphere.
An heirloom item, whether a designer chair, a marble dining table, such as our deeply veined statement pieces at 180 House, or a statement rug, can inject instant appeal. 'I recommend investing in a beautiful kitchen table, for the simple reason that it gets better with age,' says interior designer Kerri Lipsitz. 'I recently used a 19th century French refectory table in a project and it became an instant talking point.'
Overscaled rugs also provides a sense of luxury and comfort. In the Houses, a key look is often to leave at least 30-60cm between the rug and the wall to create a generous look within living spaces. A rug also acts as a great unifying platform for furniture.
Change the context
'Try reimagining an antique piece of furniture in a contemporary way,' suggests Studio Duggan's Tiffany Duggan. 'We love to reupholster antique seating in cool, striking and contemporary fabrics, or to spray-lacquer old tables that look past their prime in a glossy solid colour to give them a new lease of life. It's all about contrast and balance to keep the look interesting. For example, an antique armchair is suddenly uplifted if paired with a sleek and simple side table. The balance of layering something old and textural with something modern and smooth really appeals.'
Tiffany Duggan, Studio Duggan
The balance of layering something old and textural with something modern and smooth really appeals
Add a natural focal point to your scheme by creating a vignette of favourite pieces, whether a collection of ceramics, glassware or art. Play with scale, mixing and matching different heights and finishes, maintaining one cohesive note through colour or material. 'Double up on the decorative and functional value of pieces,' advises interior architect Natalia Miyar. 'I collect tableware on my travels. Serving bowls from Denmark, India and Mexico are displayed on floating shelves in my kitchen. They don't need to be expensive to feel incredibly special and they elevate the everyday to an occasion.' Our Nero range, handcrafted in Portugal and inspired by vintage ceramics, is designed for both visual appeal and durability, making it ideal for showcasing too.
Finally, don't underestimate the power of pattern. Introducing a bold fabric to your scheme will add texture, depth and interest. Be brave with a vivid print by reupholstering a favourite armchair or bench and then picking up the colourway elsewhere with a contrasting plain or a trim for cohesion. Use expensive fabrics where you need less, such as on headboards or stools and more affordable options for full-length curtains. You can also source inexpensive fabric remnants from your local upholsterer - velvets, washed linens and bold patterned fabrics will all add an element of luxury and colour to a neutral scheme.