Interview: At home with Sophie Conran

Design royalty, author and domestic goddess Sophie Conran talks to ACHICA Living about interior trends, homewares, dad Terence Conran and her imminent Bermuda wedding...

You’ve obviously grown up with a strong design influence, from your dad Terence and food-writer mum Caroline, but did designing always feel like a natural career path?

Yes. When I was six I started drawing pictures of rooms and planned how they would be laid out. I used to avidly decorate my dolls houses too. We moved to the country when I was eight, when my dad bought and converted an old school in Berkshire, so I found I was always living on a building site, surrounded by influential designers.

What was the first job you had?

When I was 17 I started working for hat maker Steve Jones, which was great fun. But moving into interiors seemed like a natural progression - I like things that are down to earth.

What was your first home like?

When I was 20, dad (Terence Conran) gave me some shares in Habitat and said I could use them to start a business or buy a property. I chose to buy a three-storey flat in London, which 22 years on I still own and live in. I gutted it, put new floors in and restored the fireplaces and cornicing. It was a big task, but when my friends saw the finished home they asked if I could do projects for them.

Who inspires you and why?

My mum (food writer Caroline) is very ethereal and inspirational in the way she applies techniques and colour. She’s really good at making a house a home. My dad inspires me too as he works harder than anybody I’ve ever met. He’s always handing me books for inspiration. He’s taught me to use my eyes. I’m currently reading The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones.

How would you describe your home’s style?

I would say it’s slightly eccentric, traditional with a twist, and homely.
My kitchen has bold pink walls with cream open shelving packed with all my kitchen tools. My bedroom and home office have a softer palette of pink and grey that’s very calming, while my sitting room has lots of red and orange to create energy.

Are you a country or city girl?

I’m renting a place in West Sussex and stay there a lot with my children, Coco and Felix, so I’m lucky enough to get a mix of both. I like pavements and high heels, but I equally like the South Downs and walking in my boots. My dad is coming down to the country with me on Sunday for lunch.

White Oak, Sophie's new porcelain range with Portmeirion

What's the most exciting project you've worked on and why?

I love designing for Portmeirion and working with Julian Teed – we get really excited about drawing up new designs. I’m getting married in June so that’s really fun to plan. Nick and I are having it in Bermuda in a marquee by the sea. The theme is all white for the flowers, tent, linen and candles - it’s a very uplifting look.

In terms of interior trends, what do you think will be big this summer?

There’s still a big vibe for ‘make do and mend’ – that slightly retro fifties feel – which I think will continue to be big. It’s a romantic feel with fruity colours and pretty prints.

Which three products could you not live without?

My blue Le Creuset casserole pot I bought when I was 17. It reminds me of all the meals I’ve made my children over the years. I also love my black Aga Rayburn, which is always on and warm and feels like a friend. My Burnham sofa from The Conran Shop, designed by my dad, which I bought when I was 20 is a treasured item too. It’s ideal to use as a bed if someone stays over or for slouching around on in the living room.

What’s your top decorating tip?

Grouping décor works well. In my hall I’ve got a group of white jugs and vases that have a gorgeous sculptural feel. They’re lovely to see when you walk in and you can change the feeling depending on the flowers you use.

What’s your motto?

One life, live it well.


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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor