Meet Sophia Ridley, Debenhams Head of Design
This is just one of the style rules Sophia Ridley, Head of Design at Debenhams, lives by to keep her busy family home calm and organised
Sophia, who joined Debenhams six years ago, leads the team that creates the store’s range of homeware, including the Designers at Debenhams collections. She lives in south London with her husband Gavin and their daughters, Gabby, 17, and Issy, 15.
There’s nothing worse than a cluttered home.
I have a very busy working life, so I need my space to be organised and tidy – I can’t relax unless everything is in its place. That’s why I’m first out of bed at the weekend. My daughters always have their friends around and they all make a mess, so straightening everything up first thing in the morning helps me to feel relaxed.
Get rid of things that you neither love nor need.
Simplify your life. It’s really important not to keep things that are neither beautiful nor useful. I am a collector, though
– I love glass and ceramics and have collected Seventies Swedish glass since I was 21. I’m not a hoarder, but once you start buying it, you can’t stop!
I’ve found really beautiful furniture at boot sales,
junk shops and fairs. I have two teens,
so I don’t buy expensive things! My objects represent different stages of my journey through life. I’ve inherited my parents’ ‘filter’ – the skill of knowing what is well designed. They were passionate about art and design. We didn’t have much money, but we had an interesting home full of art, junk and second-hand furniture.
Having children changes your style.
When we moved into our old house, we thought cream carpets would be so chic, light and airy. Gabby was six months old, and after a year of living with a baby, they looked dreadful!
Good design never dates.
Brands such as Iittala, Marimekko and Arabia are favourites of mine. Their aesthetic is so amazing because they have the original mid-century designs. I have an amazing Sixties hanging wicker egg chair in my bedroom. My sister found it in her in-laws’ garage and gave it to me. It’s a beautiful piece and I love it.
Great design should be accessible to everyone, though.
That’s why I love Ikea. We have a couple of Soderhamn sofas. It’s a modular design, so you can buy as many pieces as you want to fit. I pimped ours with new turned-wood legs that I bought from Etsy.
I’ve learned so much from working with the Designers at Debenhams.
They’re full of tips – John Rocha once told me that when you buy a rug, make sure it goes all the way under your sofa so it extends the eyeline of the room. My team and I work closely with the designers, who all work differently and it’s a fascinating process. Jasper Conran is super hands-on and amazing to work with. Matthew Williamson comes in twice a season to look at our designs based on his brief. He sends us loads of images and products for inspiration. Abigail Ahern is such an inspiration and I love her faux plants. I’d never dreamed of having fakes in my home before, but hers are beautiful.
LOUNGING ABOUT Kempton compact sofa in Textured Weave Dark Grey, £500; Kempton armchairs, from £350 each; Juno floor light, £200; Parquet coffee table, £200, all Debenhams
RELAXED DINING Efni six-seater dining table with light grey chairs, £2,050; Odette pendant, £180, all Debenhams
SLEEK SEAT Kempton armchair in Mono, £385, Debenhams
FORM & FUNCTION Ceramic vases, £18 for two, Debenhams
Jasper conran textured velvet cushions, £32 each; throws, from £115; green marble pendant, £55, all Debenhams ‘I love copenhagen. I keep returning there because it’s just so jaw droppingly gorgeous’
Jasper conran jars, from £12; serving boards, from £30; condiment set, £30, all Debenhams
TWO TONEBelly basket, £18, Debenhams
EVERGREEN OPTIONFaux string of pearls plant, £28, Debenhams
MUTED BEAUTY Textured velvet cushion in dark green, £18, Debenhams
LAYER UP Enamel trays, £10 for two, Debenhams