Cocooned by Comfort
A sense of easy relaxation is a hallmark of the English decorating aesthetic, and most interior designers would profess to putting comfort at the top of their aims for a room – but what does that mean in practice? A visit to WOW!house uncovers exactly how the experts achieve these essential but sometimes elusive components.
It’s noticeable how many of the WOW!house designers opted for fabric-covered walls, rather than paint or wallcoverings: employing this technique can make a huge difference to the acoustics of a room, dampening sound and making a space feel instantly more cocooning. It also opens up the possibility of coordinating walls and upholstery – done masterfully within the Colefax and Fowler Drawing Room, where the banquette and the walls are both covered in ‘Rivoli’ cotton velvet by Manuel Canovas, and the seating appears to almost melt into the walls – all of it incredibly soft and tactile. Traditionally the fabric would be attached to battens, with a decorative edge such as a rope braid to disguise the join, but fabric-backed paper (as used in the Morris & Co. Courtyard Bedroom by Brandon Schubert and the Julian Chichester Library by Turner Pocock) is an easier-to-install alternative.
Brandon Schubert also plays with many layers of fabric to add to the feeling of richness in a room and create more of a sense of comfort: the magnificent four-poster bed is hung with ‘Oak’ fabric, lined with contrasting ‘Willow Boughs Minor’ fabric, both by Morris & Co. Joanna Plant takes a similar approach in the Tissus d’Hélène Bedroom (above), where a tented fabric ceiling leads the eye down to a bed layered with wonderful fabrics that show off Tissus d’Hélène’s artisanal portfolio – ‘Marguerite’ by Nicole Fabre and ‘Jasper’ by Alice Sergeant, with the bed topped off with an eiderdown in ‘Vendome’ fabric by Nicole Fabre.
Layouts, too, can dictate comfort: in Freddy van Zevenbergen of Lambart & Browne’s Dining Room (above left), the designer chose to locate the table against the wall, framed by a wavy-backed banquette – an effect that makes the dining area feel much more intimate than if it was in the centre of the room. In the GP & J Baker Morning Room (above right), designer Rita Konig said that she wanted to create somewhere where you’d like to spend some time gossiping with a friend, so deeply comfortable upholstered seating is arranged around all four sides of a coffee table, creating a sense of enclosure within the larger room.
Ensuring that everything is in reach provides the vital final touch to any comfortable space: that could be the side-table positioned just next to the bath (for that book or cup of tea) in the House of Rohl Bathroom by 2LG Studio, or the cocktail trolley laden with drinks and elegant barware in the Julian Chichester Library. Rita Konig has included a bowl of Smarties, some cigarettes and some beautifully presented matches in the GP & J Baker Morning Room, while in Rui Ribeiro Studio’s Drawing Room, sumptuous coffee-table books are just an arm’s length away. It all demonstrates that designers don’t just want to know what their clients like from an aesthetic point of view – they want to take a deep dive into how they live, too.
Colefax and Fowler, Ground Floor, South Dome
GP& J Baker, Ground Floor, Design Centre East
House of Rohl, Third Floor, North Dome
Julian Chichester, Ground Floor, Centre Dome
Morris & Co., First Floor, South Dome
Tissus d’Hélène, Fourth Floor, Design Centre East