Before I had children I had a thing about occasional chairs and brass-framed upright sofas - stunning to look at but nowhere to relax...
Friends would visit and I would find myself holding my breath as they went to sit down with a glass of red wine. With every corner crammed with yet another piece of ornate decorative furniture, my brother-in-law would snort when I’d say: “I really need to buy a new sofa”. Two daughters in and more time spent at home than ever, I realised just how cluttered and uncomfortable our home had become. I came across the furniture company Love Your Home, created by Abi Boura, the former style editor at Elle Decoration, and Leigh Harmer, who used to run a luxury furniture company, and I thought it might tick my need for robust style. Its philosophy is all about bringing great British design into real (rather than show) homes and a quote on its website – “A sofa is no use to anyone if it just looks pretty in a photo shoot” – certainly resonated. I have never wanted to sacrifice my aesthetic simply because I had children, but I do need to be more realistic (and not spend the earth) and I figured they could help. A visit to their rustic showroom in Godalming in the beautiful Surrey countryside and I was sure of it – especially as my littlest was happily entertained with Peppa Pig while we discussed fabric combinations. They offer a wide range of sofas and beds in classic, contemporary styles, which can be upholstered, piped and trimmed to your exact specifications (they also offer a bespoke service where you can change the dimensions of a piece so that it fits perfectly in any room). I chose the swallow-you-up Grace sofa with elegant velvet piping. It’s deeper than usual and has a high back – perfect for movie nights and just curling up with the girls. The stain-resistant linen also means I don’t hold my breath when they jump on it. It was too big to fit through the awkward hall of my London house but they arranged for a craftsman to come and assemble it in the room (the service is brilliant). I have two (fairly gentle) little girls and three (very boisterous) nephews around the corner and both my sister and I have their sofas, and both are working brilliantly. We caught up with Abi to find out what to look for in the perfect seating, where most families go wrong and how to update your home without spending a penny – as well as discovering what the next big sofa trends are. Now excuse me while I just put my feet up. Pictured: Love Your Home’s Grace sofa upholstered in House Linen Cotton ‘Linen’
What should you look for when buying a sofa with a family?
However well behaved we feel our children are, they will always roll and jump on the sofa. A no-food rule is great, but accidents happen. A tailored design will always look neat. In our upholstery collection, feathers are held in duvet-style cells, which helps designs to keep their shape. It is also essential to choose a stain-resistant fabric. We offer both velvet and beautiful slubby linen which are robust for families and more resistant to inevitable spills.
Where do many people go wrong?
They go too small, it’s better to use the whole space – it will make your room feel bigger. Spend a little extra on that special stain-resistant fabric – many people try to keep the cost low by going for a standard cheaper fabric. The feedback we get a few years later is, I wish we had spent more on that hardier textile.
What are the best fabrics for durability and when it comes to stains? Is leather a good option?
For durability we always suggest, a stain resistant velvet. Leather is a great option and is very hard-wearing, we say ‘leather wears in, not out’. However, with most things, a good Aniline leather will wear better. If you want a stain-resistant leather, its better to look for a semi-Aniline leather, this type loses the natural quality of Aniline but it is available in many more colours and is more resistant to spills.
How can you make sure you choose a colour you don’t get tired of?
Find a treasured object, item of clothing or picture, really think about the qualities that retained your interest and work around that. Don’t be tempted to choose a colour because you feel it is on trend, there will always be a colour of the moment, but if this shade has not resonated with you previously, you will probably tire of it.
What is one of the easiest ways to improve your home on a budget?
The first thing that can completely change a room and costs nothing is the layout. Consider the flow and journey through the space. Leaving large areas of empty floor will make a small space feel smaller, so really use what you have. The second thing to look at is lighting. If you are on a budget, a few side lights will make a huge difference, use the light to focus your eye on areas you like and detract from those you don’t.
What is the next big interiors colour/fabric craze?
Texture is big, our customers love velvet, but we are looking at heavier textures with a slightly Seventies edge, although I think it will take a while for this to reach everyone. Pink is a colour that really isn’t going anywhere – it is very popular and practical. We are expecting the millennial pink to move towards terracotta, a colour we call ‘Peanut’ which is softer. Mustard is also growing in popularity and looks great against dark walls.
What if you are looking for something unique?
We have two services. ‘Make it yours’ gives you the opportunity to change fabric, legs and add a contrast piping, and a bespoke option, which means you can change the dimensions of a product, making it really fit your space and family’s requirements. Our most interesting project is a range of designs we are working on with an interior design duo, this is going to be very exciting, so watch this space…
And finally, what are your best selling colours and designs?
The Ottilie and Earl Grey designs – both are available as three-seater, and corner sofas and both blur the lines between classic and contemporary design making them easy to live with. Our exclusive Mohair range is also popular, in turmeric orange and pink. But the most-wanted colours overall are blue, pink and orange.