It took almost a decade of renovating this beautiful Georgian house before Sophie Doherty could turn her attention to what for her was by far the most appealing part of the project: ‘The soft furnishings were the really exciting bit because I was so ready to do something really creative after project managing the renovation,’ recounts the former Senior Fashion Editor of Wallpaper * magazine. She continues, ‘I absolutely poured my heart and soul into choosing the designs for each room. This house has a lot of windows and the ceilings are very high, so I knew I could go to town with colours and patterns.’
Armed with reams of fabric samples from Linwood, Sophie spent months putting together detailed schemes for each space. ‘I had fabrics taped to the walls or draped over headboards and cushions,’ she recalls, adding, ‘When it came to choosing large-scale prints, I found the returnable fabric sample service particularly helpful, as it gave me a chance to properly visualise the patterns within the different settings.’
The house’s surrounding gardens helped inform Sophie’s choices, notably a beautiful old oak tree that can be viewed from many of the key rooms. It prompted her to use Hester in Pink Green for the dining room curtains, a printed linen fabric featuring a classic oak leaf motif. ‘I love the fact that this traditional design has been given a modern update with a stripe featuring a decorative scalloped edge,’ notes Sophie, who picked out the pink of the striped curtain fabric with pelmets in Elba plain linen in Sorbet. The same pretty pink linen serves as the upholstery fabric for a seat Sophie designed for one corner of the space. ‘I gave it a scalloped top for something a little bit self-indulgent and fun,’ she explains.
Another joyous print that captures the beauty of the garden is Kitty in Blue Green, an uplifting linen fabric featuring a timeless large scale floral that was used for the curtain fabric of the guest bedroom, as well as the blinds and headboard. ‘I was sitting on the bed surrounded by fabric samples and all I could see from the window was the bright blue sky and the vivid green of the garden and this print captured that colour palette perfectly,’ says Sophie, whose honed eye is witnessed in details such as the blue ruched trim on the floral cushion, and the contrast piping on the pelmet.
Sophie’s fabric combinations are sometimes unexpected, and she loves to line curtains in a contrasting design. ‘If you are likely to see the lining, why have it plain white?’ she opines, pointing out the gorgeous velvet curtain between the kitchen and the dining room which showcases a gold-hued Linwood Omega velvet on one side – Fools Gold from Omega III – with Hester printed linen fabric on the reverse.
In the kitchen itself, where she dressed the windows with Hester in the Grey colourway, Sophie took her cue from the hue of the stripe to introduce a mustard-coloured damask linen fabric, Bagatelle, for cushions in the banquette seating area. ‘Deciding what worked with what wasn’t dissimilar to assembling an outfit; you need to figure out which fabrics will sing together,’ she observes, adding, ‘I think that when you are combining prints in different sizes and styles, it really helps if they share similar tones.’
The couple’s bedroom offers a masterclass in mixing tonal prints, with curtains and bed drapes in a classic floral striped fabric – Arley in Golden – marrying beautifully with a headboard and lampshades in a neat diamond patterned linen fabric, Ashfield in Maize. ‘Most of the pieces in this room, including the chandelier and the coronet above the bed, are French, and so I liked the fact that the floral stripe is based on an archive French design,’ comments Sophie.
Templates for the pelmets and headboards were fashioned by Sophie in a rather rudimentary way, using cardboard from delivery boxes: ‘I would flatten out the boxes and then cut out the shapes in the cardboard using a sharp craft knife,’ Sophie explains. ‘I would then gaffer tape the design above the window or behind the bed to see the effect, and if the shape didn’t seem quite right, I would cut away at the cardboard a bit more.’ For her son’s bathroom, she came up with a particularly playful scooped design that references circus tents – made up in Bagatelle linen fabric in Forget Me Not.
Most of Sophie’s curtains and blinds are interlined, and the former are weighted and designed to drape a little on the floor. ‘I love curtains that feel weighty and luxurious,’ she explains, adding, ‘They also serve a practical purpose: the house is listed and we cannot install double glazing or change glass in the windows, which at times is paper thin, so thick curtains and blinds really help reduce draughts.’ In the boot room, a sumptuous curtain made using Uhura printed linen fabric trimmed with the same design in a contrasting colourway proves a particularly arresting draught excluder, helping to elevate this space.
Sophie also raised the style stakes in the utility, replacing a pair of cupboard doors beneath the sink with pretty pink striped curtains in Croquet in Rose, using the same linen fabric for bistro curtains at the window.
Another rather mundane space in the house, the home office, was transformed with English Oak, an elegant green and blue wallpaper that Sophie teamed with velvet blinds in the same arresting print. The effect is at once dramatic and enveloping: ‘My husband uses the office the most and he says he feels like he is sitting in the canopy of a forest, which is exactly what I wanted,’ Sophie explains.
For Sophie, the process of designing the soft furnishings has been hugely rewarding. ‘Everything feels much softer, cosier and more homely,’ she says. ‘The fabrics really have changed everything – they have stolen the show.'