Published on March 24, 2020

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Photography by Meghan McNeer

Have you ever walked into a room that instantly made you feel at ease and a little less stressed? That’s the power of great decor, and the Brits are masters of it. Think: dark paneled walls, fireplaces, plush velvet seating, and bookcases lined with novels and art. If spending so much time confined at home has made you rethink your cute (but uncomfortable) sofa or your total lack of lamps, now might be a good time to embrace your inner maximalist. 

And who better to help us adopt British style than the ones who have exported the look all over the world? Enter the Soho House design team, which has nailed cozy environments from the English countryside all the way to the streets of Hong Kong and the shores of Malibu. Here’s how they tap into their heritage, no matter where they are in the world. 

Pick Darker Colors Than You’re Used To

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“English interiors are typically moodier and more colorful than American ones,” says Gareth Lewis, Soho Home’s creative and design director. Navy or charcoal walls are much more common overseas than in the U.S. because they tend to pair well with the foggy weather. “I think people find appeal in that smoky, comfy setting,” he says. So forget about all-white kitchens and play around with jewel tones and saturated hues. 

Choose Comfort First

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Brits love to prioritize comfort above all, a philosophy that Soho House has adopted in all its properties. “We want our clubs to make our members feel like they are at home,” says Candace Campos, Soho House’s U.S. design director. “We always take a layered approach and collect our ideas from all eras, so there is never just one narrative told.” Aged brass, lots of wood, plush velvets, fireplaces, and intimate seating nooks are all staples of English style. 

Don’t Design All at Once

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The trick to creating a layered interior is a simple one. “We leave about 20 percent of our furniture undefined until the very end,” explains Campos. Planning 80 percent up front gives rooms a certain level of cohesion, but the last-minute details are what gives experts the flexibility to plan around how the rest develops. This allows for a more natural and layered process. 

Shrink Your Furniture

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Another staple of U.K. interiors is a lack of square footage. “Scale is what sets English decor apart from American style,” says Lewis. “Americans generally have a lot more space with which to experiment and introduce larger pieces.” Brits, on the other hand, often have to work with older homes with tiny footprints—just picture Kate Winslet’s quaint country cottage versus Cameron Diaz’s sprawling L.A. manse in The Holiday. Smaller areas force people to approach things like layouts and furniture size with creativity.

Mix Everything With Abandon

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Brits love to embrace their quirky side and mix and match periods and prints seamlessly. The Soho House team operates in very much the same way. “I find pairing classic, iconic designs like those of Jean Prouvé and Mies van der Rohe with exaggerated Brutalist shapes really exciting,” says Lewis. Because he designs all the Soho Home furniture, he has become a natural at adapting classic style and infusing the various houses’ local essence into his collections. 

“We want our design to feel part of the neighborhood’s history while preserving and highlighting the original characteristics of the building,” adds Campos. It adds an authenticity that can’t be re-created.” If she can re-create the look in places from Mumbai to Barcelona, you certainly can, too. 

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Bring the style home:

Discover more reasons we love European decor:
London It Girl Matilda Goad Reveals How to Decorate Like a Brit
The Brits Have a Shelf Just for Cheese in Their Kitchens
Luke Edward Hall’s New Collection Is Proof That British and Swedish Styles Mix Well

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