Sanctuary, workplace and chill zone: our homes have had to dance to several tunes lately. And this isn’t set to change any time soon.
Since we’re likely to spend the next few months locked indoors, it’s a good opportunity to launch a fresh start.
Breathe new life into your home with this year’s biggest trend: warm minimalism — spaces that are free of clutter, but still embody character and warmth. A few tweaks are all that’s needed to find your groove.
Inviting: A sitting room by John Lewis featuring its Reed sideboard, £899 to add an instant injection of warmth and texture
Banish thoughts of stark schemes and hard angles; 2021 is all about warmth, embodied by natural finishes such as boucle, cane, sisal, wool and velvets. A palette of soft neutrals from plaster pink to caramel is the order of the day, with green acting as a nod to nature.
‘Creating a space that feels uncluttered yet welcoming is key,’ says Helen Shaw, of paint company Benjamin Moore.
We usually associate simplicity with a sense of ‘less is more’. But new minimalism allows for an element of homeliness to be incorporated into the scheme.
‘When it comes to paint colours, avoid hues with grey-blue undertones, as these can feel cold, whereas yellow or red-based neutrals help to warm a room,’ says Helen.
‘Shades of oatmeal are a wonderful alternative to white without being too overpowering. These tones work especially well with natural woods and linens to add depth.’
The key to this look is to complement soft hues with plenty of texture. Don’t shy away from bold accent colour, too, such as an ebonised dining table, a midnight blue kitchen or monochrome to add weight.
‘Consider heavier textures like wool and cord for soft furnishings such as upholstered pieces or cushions and curtains, and reeded wood and rattan on furniture finishes like tables and consoles,’ says Wil Law, home design stylist at John Lewis & Partners.
Try its Reed sideboard, £899, for an instant injection of warmth and texture.
Look to the natural world for inspiration. Schemes that bring the outside in remain integral.
Touches of greenery bring hints of the outside world in
‘This is not about a return to magnolia, it’s about using soothing tones to create interiors that are smart and inviting,’ says Ruth Mottershead, creative director at Little Greene.
‘Warm, earthy neutrals are not only pleasing to the eye and soothing for the soul, they also form a beautiful backdrop to simple contemporary furniture and accessories.’
Look to the brand’s gentle Mushroom paint, which has a hint of red oxide for warmth, and neutrals such as Rolling Fog, which provides a mid-tone grey backdrop to materials such as wood, rattan and stone.
‘It’s crucial to add in natural elements – a soft rug underfoot, or a diaphanous drape at a window can truly transform a room,’ says The White Company founder Chrissie Rucker.
‘Natural materials, such as weathered wood, slubby linen or marbled slate, connect us back to nature and add interest.’
Touches of greenery bring hints of the outside world in. Place large houseplants in corners and smaller varieties clustered on shelves or sideboards for maximum impact. Patch Plants and Conservatory Archives sell unusual varieties.
Pieces that are meaningful create unique interiors.
‘Recently, customers have been investing in coveted, wishlist items to elevate and revive their space,’ says Sabina Miller, head buyer at Heal’s.
‘Opting for pieces you love, such as a show-stopping four-poster bed or a beautiful dining table, will quickly transform the overall feel of your interiors. Look for quality craftsmanship.’
A slim or sculptural silhouette will add a sense of modernity, creating a natural focal point.
Try the hand-turned pieces by Galvin Brothers, whose scale and finish can often be customised. We love its Bobbin sidetable, from £375, for its modern take on timeless design.
Handmade accessories can also add depth and warmth to a considered space. There’s a range of orb-shaped porcelain vases by Arjan Van Dal, from £130, at The New Craftsmen which come in burnt orange, rust and ochre shades, lending an earthy note to softly minimal schemes.
‘I like the challenge of introducing considered, sustainable pieces of furniture and accessories and taking the time to appreciate the maker or its lineage,’ says interior designer Alice Leigh.
‘I often opt for a mix, whether handmade, antique or a celebrated modern design. Then I layer in neutral colours, cosy upholstery fabrics, aged leathers, warm woods and woven materials found in jute rugs, baskets and lampshades.’
Don’t forget art. ‘Abstract pieces are key to any minimalistic design,’ says Topology’s Athina Bluff. Take a look at hanging art with warming colours such as rusts, browns, beiges, blacks and creams.’
Combine these elements and you’ll create a nurturing environment perfect for heralding a more optimistic year.
What your home really needs is… new towels
Prices for Next’s 650 GSM Egyptian cotton line go up to £24 for an extra-large bath sheet
The ancient origins of the word towel (dating back to about 500 BC in what is now Germany) indicate that it was a household essential long before the contemporary obsession with personal hygiene.
In today’s testing times, your home needs a towel upgrade to create the feel of a luxe spa in your bathroom.
Towels with a high GSM (grams per square metre), a measure of weight and absorbency, provide the best experience.
GSM information can be hard to uncover, but The White Company is happy to come clean.
Its 500 GSM HydroCotton range starts at £16 for a hand towel to £52 for a super-jumbo.
A four-piece set of 650 GSM Egyptian cotton towels in charcoal, pink, silver and white from Fox & Ivy, the upmarket Tesco brand, costs £28.
Prices for Next’s 650 GSM Egyptian cotton line go up to £24 for an extra-large bath sheet.
Your home may not be a hotel, but with towels like these, it can be the next best thing.