How to combine comfort and style by designer Russell Jones

Russell Jones, Senior Interior Designer at Design Forum Interiors, studied architecture before redirecting his energies to interior design when he realised he was more in tune with the interior aspect of projects. If an interior isn’t fun, isn’t sympathetic to its surroundings, isn’t interesting, and isn’t an experience, then in my view, it simply hasn’t been designed, but just put together,’ he explains.

We asked Russell to tell us how he combined all these aspects in a recent project creating the interiors for apartments in Val d'Isère, France.

We love the cosiness of this living area. How did you create the warm feeling?

‘Warmth isn’t just about colour: a blue-themed interior can still have an incredibly warm feeling. Tone is important when it comes to warmth – strong colours with vibrancy naturally create a sense of warmth, whilst in this interior we have used soft textures, with neutral tones uplifted by shots of a vibrant green. The shape of the furniture indicates a relaxed, comfortable feel – it looks like a room that can be lived in rather that just looked at – and this is as important as the textures, colour and materials used.’

You’ve included lots of comfortable seating in what could be an awkward space. Any advice on how to make more of rooms that aren’t as big as we’d like? 

‘The less clutter the better, plus intelligent use of wallpapers or paint colours can give the illusion of a larger room. Make use of the perimeter of a room, and leave the centre as just space – a coffee table or feature pendant light can fill this void, but nothing bulky or visually consuming.’

This open-plan space still feels as if it has intimate areas. How can we create the same effect at home?

‘If we understand the spaces that we want to create – be it a dining room or a sitting room – we can then set about creating pockets of practical useable space that have an identity, and give the impression of individual areas in an otherwise open-plan living space. Different spaces can be separated by art, or by texture, or even by wall coverings. The most important aspect to consider when designing in an open-plan space, however, is continuity: everything must flow.’

The lighting in this dining area looks great. What’s the best way to ensure a dining table is well lit without harshness?

‘The worst thing about lighting in my view is being able to stare into a bright bulb, leaving you with a glare in your eye for the rest of the evening. The most intelligent lighting is hidden, integrated into the building and is used in a subtle way to light art, pieces of interest or areas that have a practical use (dining table, reading area and so on). As well as this, the use of low level lighting with table lights and standard lamps to give a general ambience to certain areas is a clever and aesthetically pleasing way to integrate light into unlit spaces.’

There’s a great balance of comfort and smartness in this bedroom. How can we achieve this?

‘Comfort is achieved with good quality materials and textures that are soft to the touch with a luxury appeal. The integration of pattern and colour continuity then creates the designed look, and the smart aesthetic. We used heavy weight linen curtains here (comfort) with a hint of blue on the leading edge (creating the designed smart look); the comfortable bedroom chair with a stripe coloured fabric ties in all colours in the room; a checked bed throw injects another pattern into the room so is in neutral colours; then the art – a small piece with a large frame and statement border – adds a small amount of red as an uplift, and still ties together the colours in the room plus provides a sense of femininity with the floral pattern.’

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Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor

View all posts by Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor