In Conversation

9th July 2018

This month we welcome Nicola, the mastermind behind the Girl WIth The Green Sofa, to share her passion for all things design.

1. Tell us about yourself and what you do.

By day, I am an Investment Director investing in high technology companies, coming out of university research in the UK.

By night and weekend, I am the ‘Girl with The Green Sofa’, an interior stylist and blogger. In August 2017 I started my interiors blog, aiming to marry my day job, setting up and growing businesses, with my love of interiors. I showcase the journeys of small creative businesses, alongside larger more established ones. The blog has grown and as a result, I am able to showcase homes I love and am inspired by and the journeys of influencers/bloggers and how they got started. I feature my home renovations, trends and now style for a number of brands. My blog was awarded number one worldwide trending blog for Q1 2018 by Feathr.

My home has been featured in The Sunday Times, Apartment Therapy, 25 Beautiful Homes, MADE outboxed, to name a few.

2. Where did your passion for interior design come from?

We always had a nicely styled house when I was a child and I remember others commenting on that; so I guess at its earliest I was inspired by my mum. I started getting interested in furniture renovation first, so buying old pieces at auction and upcycling them in my dad’s garage as a creative balance to studying for an MBA. I always dressed rented apartments and university halls with my own interior item and my dad would have to drive back and forth each term with a car full of pictures and cushions. By the time I got my own home, I was itching to try out my ideas and I haven’t stopped since!

3. What is your design mantra?

Only have items in your home that you truly love. Be surrounded by décor and things that make your heart sing. Your home is for you, after all, and if you understand that, there is no right or wrong way to decorate.

Feel your home; I feel instantly relaxed the minute I walk in my front door. A room has to feel right for me as well as looking pretty. If it doesn’t, I have to move things around until it does. I have even been known to repaint a wall if the colour does not make feel me relaxed. Texture is important too; cushions, sheepskin rugs, blankets, etc.

4. How does this reflect in the design of your house? 

Our kitchen is no different from the rest of the house, it is filled with items I love and have collected over the years; texture, artwork, plants and vintage finds. I particularly love collecting old kitchen enamelware.

Our kitchen is treated as the heart of our home, where we spend the most time. We have a sofa for people to sit on while we coo and a very large table for the kids to sit and do homework or play board games. One wall of cupboards is given over to the kids for their art wall.

We remodeled our kitchen-diner in 2008, knocking down walls and replacing the kitchen. We kept it fairly neutral as I’m a transient decorator and the walls have already changed colour a few time,; but I did mix and match units to give the kitchen more of an eclectic feel and I have a vintage set of shelves where I store all my crockery. We have a slate tiled floor to add texture along with wooden work surfaces.

5. Have you noticed any new trends in the kitchen?

There is a more eclectic vibe coming through in kitchens, mixing and matching cupboards, work surfaces and textures. Colour is another big trend, I’m seeing a lot of dark colours coming through, especially green cupboards paired with open shelving. Or a coloured cupboard door mixed, perhaps, with wooden doors. Surfaces from concrete to terrazzo to wood. Tiles in all manners of patterns and colours can really lift a kitchen and a real mix of metal; brass, stainless steel, copper for taps and handles.

6. If you had £250 to spend in the kitchen, what would you buy?

A really good food mixer because my kids love baking.


7. What colour(s) should we be using in the kitchen? 

Frankly, whatever colour you want to use. There really isn’t a limit to what you can use when you can paint your own cabinets, or have them custom painted for you. The colour of your kitchen should be a personal choice, depending on what colours work for you.

My kitchen walls been slate grey and are now a deep navy as I find it makes the room cosy; especially in winter as the room faces north. I have kept my cabinets neutral, a mix of cream and wood, with wooden surfaces. This allows me to change my kitchen colour as often as I like. If I were to make changes going forward, I’d probably change my tiles or the handles on the cupboards rather than change the colour of my cabinets.

I’m seeing blue, greens and even oranges and pinks being used on kitchen cupboards. Greys, browns and blacks are more timeless and wooden or neutral cabinets, with texture works great too.

8. What are your three top tips for decorating shelves in the kitchen?

  • Decorate as you would your coffee table or shelves in the bedroom. The kitchen should not be an exception; it should be filled with beautiful things too. I like to have herbs, vintage items I have collected over the years; bread and flour bins, enamelware, glassware, plants, art and cookbooks on mine.
  • Make sure the most used items are lower and to hand, beautiful crockery, your favourite glasses, your beautiful kitchen mixer, a coffee machine, things you use every day and then layer these with other items, perhaps some art or a vintage wooden chopping board.
  • I have more greenery in my kitchen than anywhere else. I love having fresh herbs on the countertop, mixed in with my other items.

9. What are your kitchen must-haves?

Really good quality kitchen knives, a coffee machine and a large fridge. Storage is a must; you don’t want cereal boxes on display so when we built our kitchen we ensured we had plenty of storage, even for the kids. An art cupboard and games cupboard are housed in our kitchen, as that’s where these activities take place.

For me, my kitchen needs a large table for the family to eat around, play games, create art or just to sit and chat. I like having a sofa in my kitchen too, it feels more of a family room this way.

10. Where do you go for design inspiration?

Mainly Instagram and Pinterest, although I still read interiors magazines such as Livingetc, ELLE Deco, Real Homes and others. On Pinterest you can search for categories, such as “industrial kitchen” for ideas. On Instagram you can explore hashtags around certain themes, such as #kitchendecor or #kitchenremodel to see what others are doing.

Quick fire questions:

  1. Pastels or primaries? Primaries
  2. Plain or patterned? Pattern, I can’t live without wallpaper
  3. Chairs or stools? Chairs
  4. Wood or stone? Oh tricky, I adore wood, but a flag stone floor is hard to beat
  5. Aga or oven? Oven
  6. Industrial pendants or decadent chandelier? Chandelier, a grand statement one
  7. Larder or utility room? Larder
  8. Cooking or eating? Eating, I love cooking but don’t really get much time for it, that’s my husband’s domain
  9. Instagram or Pinterest? Instagram
  10. Minimalist or maximalist? Maximalist all the way. I love the quote “more is more, less is bore” by Iris Apfel

Keep up to date with Nicola’s take on all things design related via her blog and Instagram page.

Feel inspired by Nicola’s interiors advice? Speak to one of our expert designers to discuss your kitchen project. Request a free brochure here or book a complimentary design consultation here in your local Harvey Jones showroom.