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The subtle art of dressing a sofa, made simple

Jessie Smith,
Interiors Editor

We asked Partner & Textile Designer for Home Nicola James for her advice on accessorising the living room hero

Dark grey sofa in a blue living room

Think fashionably

Cushions provide “endless possibilities for how you can put a collection together on your sofa,” says Nicola. If that sounds somewhat fashion-centric, then you’re right: it’s not unusual for the catwalks to influence interiors and, just as you can switch your outfits from day to day, the concept is the same when it comes to the interchangeable aspect of your sofa.

“You can be so varied,” Nicola continues, “from pared back and sophisticated to really eclectic. It’s a way of putting your personality on the sofa.”

Light grey sofa in Scandi design

Start with subtle over safe

Unsure what your interiors ‘personality’ is? Take a gradual approach. “If you’re not that confident with colour and your sofa is a muted shade of grey, then think about a mix of darker and lighter neutrals,” advises Nicola. That means all manner of shades from charcoal to oyster and, unexpectedly, pink. “We’ve seen a big resurgence in pinks, it’s almost like a new neutral,” explains Nicola. And not only does pink look arresting with grey, it’s also perfect when paired with navy blue.

Patterned cushions on a velvet sofa

The more the merrier

As a nation, we’re embracing colour and pattern, and this ties in with a return to maximalism where decor trends are concerned. “We’re focusing on rich blues and greens,” reveals Nicola, “which you can mix in with warmer neutrals and softer tones and then inject some exciting bright pinks and oranges.”

When it comes to clashing prints and patterns, the best news is that “there aren’t any rules,” says Nicola. “It’s about mixing styles.” So geometric patterns and floral prints are go, as are ditsy motifs and abstract drawings, all together on one big comfortable canvas.

Light grey sofa with patterned cushions

Think texture

In the way that a piece of clothing might appeal to you because of its composition or tactility, the same applies to soft furnishings. Brocades, embroidery, weaves – they all play a part in creating interest and adding diversity to our surroundings.  

Velvet, for example, is a hero fabric because of its softness and the way it absorbs light, making the same panel of fabric appear many different ways depending on placement or time of day. Heavier fabrics like wool are becoming more prevalent and contrast well against cotton upholstery. A build-up of textured layers is a surefire way to make your sofa or armchair appear inviting and cosy.

Neutral living room

And don’t forget a throw...

Throws are back. They’re simultaneously versatile, practical and virtually foolproof when it comes to making a style statement. 

A cashmere version will endure and keep you warm for many winters while also promising not to bobble and itch. Choose a chunkier knit to make more of an impact when draped across the top of your two-seater. Enjoy.