The international success of private members’ club, Soho House, is, we have concluded, largely down to cushions. Actually, not just cushions, but velvet cocktail chairs, outsize leather sofas, perfectly-proportioned side tables, covetable wallpaper, burnished table lamps … In each and every Soho House property (and there are 18 across the globe), the interiors are the thing that make you want to – quite literally – join the club.
Words Nell Card | All photography courtesy of Soho House
Babington House, Somerset
The group’s design director, Linda Boronkay sums up their aesthetic: “It’s very customer-focused. We want to create a ‘home away from home’ experience with a mix of reclaimed materials, vintage finds and bespoke furniture and lighting design … We are very detail focused too: every single element has to be right.”
Linda is essentially responsible for creating environments members would want to live in. Consequently, many of her design decisions are applicable to the home. We asked her to divulge some of her secrets …
Luxury Versus Liveability
Soho House, Berlin | Soho House, Toronto
“Our starting point is always the functionality of the space and a level of comfort,” says Linda. Durability is key: start with a solid, hard-wearing shell (think parqueted or tiled floors and wood-panelled walls) and then furnish it with materials that improve with age, suggests Linda: “I would advise you to use a lot of leathers, mohair velvets – which are both luxurious and hard-wearing – and reclaimed timber. The more wear they get, the better they look.”
Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire | Soho House Berlin
The Soho House aesthetic is undeniably traditional. Claw foot bath tubs, maximalist wallpaper, studded leather armchairs that wouldn’t look out of place in an old boys’ club: you’ll find all of these in abundance at a Soho House property, but the interiors never feel staid or stuffy. How do they get the balance right? “Our interiors are eclectic, but there is method to our madness” says Linda. “They are sometimes playful and eccentric, other times more subdued and traditional or rough-and-ready industrial, depending on the functionality of the space, its geographical location, the existing architecture and history of the building.” If you’re aiming to achieve something similar in your own home, “try not to surrender yourself to too many rules,” says Linda. “Experiment with new ideas, but stay authentic too. Start with a strong concept that you keep coming back to during the design process.”
Low Level Lighting
Never underestimate the importance of a good lighting scheme, says Linda. “Ceiling lights are important as they will create the desired lighting level and they can also add impact and glamour – but it’s the low-level lighting that will create atmosphere. Table lamps, floor lamps and wall lights are used throughout our properties, but it’s important that they are dimmable.”
Finding a Focal Point
If you live in a open-plan space, it can be difficult to give each “zone” a specific function. Again, the design team at Soho House are masters of apportioning unwieldy interiors. What’s the secret? “Find your focal point,” advises Linda. “That may be a nice view, a beautiful fireplace, or a large bookcase or dresser. Choose that as your starting point and organise your furniture around it. The rest will follow.”
Form & Function
Soho Beach House, Miami | High Road House, Chiswick
If you’ve had the pleasure of staying in a Soho House property overnight, you’ll be aware that the rooms are as functional as they are luxurious. “It’s essential to mix comfort levels with practicality,” says Linda. “For example, we are very specific about what kind of mattresses we use, the size of the beds, our bedheads, the height of the bedside tables, the exact position of our light switches.” Yes there are ridiculously fluffy towels, but there will also always a place to hang them, too. “When a space is equally attractive, comfortable and practical you have created the perfect home experience,” says Linda.
Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire
The accessories – cushions, vintage ephemera, artworks, even the plants and food on display – makes each Soho House property feel informal and inviting. “Accessories are very important,” says Linda “as they can pull an interior together and make it feel complete.” In many ways, the trick is to know when to stop. You’re aiming for a casual curation of objects that are both beautiful and useful – neither too precious to use, nor too copious to clutter.
• For more inspirational interiors from Soho House, browse our Pinterest board, here.
• Or check out some of the Bert & May tiles used by Soho House.