Sharon O'Connor's home interior

How to have a home that’s always in fashion

I always keep one eye on the latest trends. But can you incorporate fashion into your furnishings? And – more importantly – should you?

Whether it’s the subtle evolution of fabrics in and out of favour, or a colour theme that creeps into our consciousness (mine being green and pink at the moment), fashion plays a massive part in interiors and upholstery. Fashion is an industry close to my heart. In fact, it’s where I started out and made my living for over 18 years. I worked on the commercial side of the business, and I think like osmosis, I absorbed a passion for clothes that has never gone away.

Antique armchair in need of upholsteringA passion for fashion

I’m not sure you’d describe me as ‘dedicated follower of fashion’. I’m no Vivienne Westwood, but I can’t deny I’ve never been afraid to take a few considered risks with the clothes I wear. For instance, my wardrobe houses a total kaleidoscope of bright colours (could you have guessed that?), and show me an aesthetically perfect pair of heels and I’m already strutting out of the shop in them.

However – here’s the thing. In the wise words of Kate Watson Smyth from Mad About The House, when it comes to interiors, I do believe you shouldn’t follow trends slavishly – only choose something if you really like it. Here are a few of my golden rules…


Upholstered antique armchair in purple and green flowering velvet House Of Hackney fabricTop tips for nailing interior trends

End use is always a factor when choosing a fabric. So yes, you may love a print or a colour, but what is its purpose and will it measure up? If fabric is malleable it will tend have longevity. For instance, I love working with velvet and it’s a texture that has never gone ‘out of fashion’. In fact, it’s right up there sitting at the top of the trend tree again this season. Think about how something feels, not just how it looks. If your armchair or sofa feels like it’s giving you a hug, you’ve got it exactly right.

Don’t follow fashion. Follow your instincts. And do be careful with runaway trends. For instance, animal print was huge last year and I for one LOVE it. But that’s exactly it – I love it regardless of whether it’s hot or not. Be aware that if your must-have becomes a has-been you still have to live with it long after it drops off the style pages of your favourite magazine.

‘Don’t follow fashion. Follow your instincts.’

Upholstered vintage sofa in emerald green velvet Kirkby Design fabricColour is where most of us express our character, and we all have our go-to’s. I would never recommend doing a whole home or necessarily even matching a whole suite of furniture with just one theme or colour though. Instead, capture moments, or pockets of your personality around your house. I adore emerald green, so when it came to upholstering my very first ‘personal’ piece it was a no-brainer. I can’t imagine ever falling out of love with it, but that’s not to say I want my whole house covered in a forest of green tones.

So, which of this year’s trends have staying power? Echoing the resurgence of vertical lines in our interiors, corduroy is hugely back on the style charts. And, paired with the right piece, this is a look that can be amazing. Some other upholstery trends which have popped up this season are a renewed affection for bouclé, along with a colour palette of salmon and mint. In terms of shapes, curves are everything. Think fat, chunky silhouettes and scalloped edges.

Do I have any style no-nos when it comes to upholstery? Absolutely. I hate loose covers. They never fit as well, and they never last as long. Also… Arm sleeves. Yuk! Chairs don’t need ‘sleeves’, shirts do. Just look after your furniture and it will last. That means no sitting on arms, and no leaning back on dining chairs. Simple.

How to win style points – forever

In short, if you want to go wild with a daring print, mix old with new, or resurrect a treasured piece with a total transformation, I say GO FOR IT! I have never been disappointed when I’ve trusted my gut and been confident in my decisions. Be bold, take risks, express yourself and challenge conventions. Let’s face it, great taste never goes out of fashion.

Have you got a sofa, chair or any other item that needs a style update? Contact me and let’s see how it could be transformed.

Picture Credits: Andy Newbold Photography (copyright Surrey Life Magazine), Caroline Jones Photography and Cassandra King Flowers and Styling.

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