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How to design an open-plan family space

Interior designer Suzy Hoodless explains how she created a comfortable, characterful sitting room for her west London townhouse in this episode of ‘The Scheme’, the series where we delve into the details of putting together a decorative scheme with colours and fabrics. The open-plan double sitting room in this typically tall Victorian townhouse had to work both for family life and for entertaining, and Suzy has filled it with her signature blend of modern and vintage furniture and a fresh, contemporary mix of colours. Here she takes us through the details, including a showstopping embroidered fabric from Pierre Frey used on a pair of accent chairs, from which the rest of the colours in the room emerge. Suzy takes us on a deep dive into how she combines plain fabrics with boldly patterned ones, like the understated plain blue mohair on her George Smith sofa, which is enlivened by bold leopard print and tufted Tibor cushions. Suzy also talks us through paint colours, from the plain pale pink backdrop on the walls to the acid yellow on the woodwork, and the statement accessories that make the room sing. Suzy Hoodless is a member of The List by House & Garden, our essential directory of design professionals. Visit The List by House & Garden:

Released on 03/17/2023


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Hi, I'm Susie Hoodless.

I'm an interior designer,

and I'm going to show you the design scheme

for my house in West London.

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It's a tall Victorian house with big, high ceilings.

The ground floor is a double sitting room

and it leads through into a big open plan kitchen.

The brief for the room was

that it had to be a comfortable family space.

It had to have a sofa that seated five people

but also for it to work for entertaining.

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The scheme is a total sort of mix of pieces that I love.

It's a rectangular room with a bay window

and the sofa is facing the fireplace.

The his and hers chairs sit by the bright yellow architrave

connecting the two sitting rooms together.

Opposite in the bay window,

we have the white Joe Colombo swivel chair.

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The first fabric I started

with is the French blue mohair from George Smith.

It's on my sofa, which is also from George Smith.

Then I chose a green leopard velvet fabric from Beacon Hill,

which very sadly is discontinued.

But this is a very similar fabric from Colefax & Fowler.

I chose it because I love the mix

with the blue mohair from George Smith.

The green and the blue combination together is great.

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I found this Tibor textile,

which is just an amazingly beautiful thing.

I just knew that it would look great mixed in

with the blue and the green.

It's sort of not too serious, adds lots of texture,

and I just have one small cushion

and it just completely changes the whole scheme.

I didn't really want to have curtains

but I found this amazing Kvadrat fabric

that has this really beautiful sort

of tone running through it.

It looks really great with the blue mohair,

and the green leopard print,

and the combination together is really nice.

Then I found this amazing Pierre Frey embroidery

and I upholstered two vintage chairs.

It just completely changes everything

that I'd already added,

but also ties in all of those original colors too.

Then I found these plain linen fabrics from Pierre Frey

and I mixed them with the Pierre Frey embroidery,

and they are on the base of each of the two chairs.

They're his and her chairs,

so I wanted them to be slightly different,

but to work together as a pair.

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When it came to choosing the paint color,

I wanted a neutral tone on the walls,

just to pull the whole thing together and be the backdrop

for all these really strong, bright fabrics.

So I looked at Little Greene

and I found this beautiful subtle pale dusky pink,

and it's called China Clay mid,

and it works really well as this sort of neutral foundation.

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This very bright yellow,

which is completely uncompromising,

is the architrave to the two sitting rooms.

We just wanted it to be this very sort of shocking,

super contemporary color.

I think it works really well.

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I started with the rug that I bought about 20 years ago

from Talisman.

It's an early 20th century Chinese carpet,

and again it just feels very contemporary.

It's amazing that it's over 120 years old.

The coffee table is designed by Barber Osgerby.

It's called the Zero-In From Established & Sons.

I love that sort of mix of very contemporary

with the vintage carpet.

The white chair at the back

is called the Elda Chair by Joe Colombo.

It's a swivel chair.

I really love it,

and it's one of the first pieces I've ever bought.

A very classic, iconic piece of design.

The wall lights are sheets of aluminum, and they're 1970s.

I bought them from Guinevere.

They just add a very sort

of contemporary twist to the interior.

I think the scheme works really well.

You have to think about how the textiles work together.

In this scheme,

I've really used this Pierre Frey embroidery

as the starting point and all of these fabrics

are pulled from this original fabric.

It's all about texture and scale for me

and that's why I think the scheme works so well.

[upbeat music]

Starring: Suzy Hoodless