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March 2017

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Be bold & colourful in interiors

Sam Bertram

10 March 2017

There’s no doubt Spring incentivises us to inject new life into our homes. The signs of life, colour and longer days makes us re-look at our whole environment. We spoke to Henrietta Gillespie from Balmain & Balmain, a local Wiltshire company making bespoke sofas and chairs, about interiors latest trends.  What trends are you currently seeing in interiors?  ‘Colour is definitely making a comeback which I love, as it’s great fun making sofas with bold or colourful designs. Until recently there was a lot of beige and cream but people are becoming more adventurous. There’s a desire for something a bit different – most people are tired of seeing the same in their friend’s houses and they’re looking to stand out. Even the paint companies are promoting big colour. It doesn’t mean you have to live in a room that’s black or red but there’s an acknowledgement that colour in a room is good, so people are being bolder with the shades they choose. It’s interesting because interiors are becoming more linked to the fashion industry. Every six months there are new fabric books, and colour often follows those used by fashion designers. I love the challenge of finding something different and slightly extraordinary and some of our recent sofas have had bold patterns with orange, greens and yellow.’ So, what happens when you get a brief to create a bespoke sofa or chair? ‘People mostly come and visit me at my office in Wilton near Marlborough – occasionally we do orders over the phone. Most who order over the phone have sat on one of our sofas and sought us out and we can always send them samples. Although the furniture is made in our workshop on the Wiltshire / Dorset border, we have examples of all styles at our office so people can see them and try them out. We also have loads of fabric books for inspiration.  We discuss all the different options and then I go and find the fabric they’re looking for. I have lots of contacts especially in London and plug into them to find special pieces that aren’t run of the mill. Once the fabric is agreed we start putting together the components in our workshop. We start with the Beech wood frame and then the coil sprung unit with the sprung front edge. Fine plywood goes over the arms so they don’t sink away and then the felt padding is applied followed by the rubberised horse hair. We then put the fabric on top and do the sewing and piping. Everything is done by hand and it’s a real skill and quite a process – even cutting out the sofa takes a day! All our furniture is delivered by us to its final home.’ What would you like to see happening in interiors? I would love to see more people making things. We have become consumers of mass market goods so it’s more difficult to find craftsmen who actually make stuff. In days gone by you would get a painter in and they would mix the paint themselves. Our handmade sofas and chairs are built to last. We do a lot of recovering of our own furniture as the foundations and structure of the sofas lasts a long time, but after a while our buyers might want a fabric update. We’re a small business offering an extremely personalised service so we’re always at the end of the phone if our customers need anything.'  www.balmainandbalmain.com

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