Freelance stylist and Art Director, Sara Bird has over twenty years experience specialising in the interiors, lifestyle and craft publishing industry. A regular contributor and former Deputy Editor of Country Homes & Interiors she has styled, written, crafted, commissioned and commentated on just about everything to do with interior design, decorating, creative home-making and seasonal ideas.
Q1. What is your favourite piece in your home?
That would have to be my Aga. I live in a very old house, mainly Tudor with a Victorian extension. There was a space in my kitchen (the Victorian part) in which a stove of some description must have been fitted and like many old houses mine needed some kind of central heat source to warm the stone-floored rooms. After a bit of research, I found an old Aga on eBay which I had dismantled, shipped, reconditioned and installed. It was a real labour of love as it was in quite a state but I can honestly say it has made my house a home.
Q2. What was the last thing you purchased?
I buy quite a lot of bits and bobs which might end up in my house after a brief stint as a prop for a shoot. Quite a lot of it is vintage or of modest origins. My latest purchase is a pewter jug. It is very simple and unfussy and looks lovely on its own or with a few flowers.
Q3. Who or what is your inspiration / Do you have any style muses or places you always return to for inspiration?
Much of my work as a stylist is about trend forecasting and is based on observation and what makes people tick. Clothing, colour, hobbies, TV, even the weather all inspire me and evolve to make that next look. As a pattern junky too, I love looking at fabric and wallpaper collections so places like design emporium Chelsea Harbour are a must or for historical, throw-back style the Victoria & Albert Museum is really treat to visit. Within my industry I also meet some amazingly creative people with really interesting ideas, information and observations. I’ve become a great believer in listening – you never know what you might learn or discover!
Q4. What are your five favourite OFL pieces / how would you style them
One of my favourite pieces is the Orrick Console. This is really a ‘suite any situe’ item. The perfect size for awkward corners and smaller rooms and with a useful bit of storage it’s a small product with immense appeal. I’m a mega fan of mirrors too. They can lighten and brighten, add scale and character to a scheme. The Country Cottage mirror is one of my favourites due to it’s scale and classic lines. Style it up with flowers and pictures or place a lantern in front for a double dose of reflected candlelight. A chest of drawers is a wise investment for a home as it provides maximum storage with minimum effort. I love the handsome looks of the Shay chest of drawers with it’s hint of on-trend Swedish styling. Finished in smart white paint, it offers plenty of drawer space as well as a useful top for displaying favourite accessories and flowers. When looking for a decorative seat for a bedroom, I think the Amelia chair is a real find and crowd pleaser. True to it’s word this accent piece adds character with a botanical style pattern and it’s blue, grey, green foliage colours can be dressed up or down as the seasons change with cushions and throws. My final must-have piece is the Nagano lamp. I love the mirrored surface with it’s tactile finished. Giving a gleaming and global nod to the highly popular ethnic and metal trends, this piece lifts a room and draws the eye with it’s beautiful detail.
Q5. What are your favourite trends right now?
I love the Folk look that’s happening right now. It can be adopted into so many ways from really simple details to a fun pattern mix and match. Derived from a mass of cultural country sources, from everyday hinterland embellishment to elaborate decoration, it is a look that keeps on giving.
Q6. What are your favourite trends for 2017?
It has to be the three T’s; terracotta, teal and tonal. I love the earthy and warming qualities of the terracotta colours and surface textures seen right now. Perfect for the Autumn palette, this ‘of nature’ shade and material adds warmth to a home whether seen as tiling, plaster or even on leather and suede furnishings. Our love of blue never seems to dwindle but zingy teal adds a bit of bling to the shade this season making it a great colour to add wow factor to winter looks. Seen in plush furniture fabrics such as velvets, silks and chenille or in fine porcelain and pottery it brings a touch of luxe to a scheme. Finally there has been no escaping the mono-tonal look this year and it looks set to carrying on to next. The black and white palette from chic Art Deco room schemes to low-key ethnic ensembles has been an easy colour partnership to take from season to season.
Q7. What’s your style like? / How would you describe your style at home?
Working in the interiors industry means I get to see a lot of trends so I find my colours schemes at home get simpler and simpler as time goes on, yet within that there is quite an eclectic mix! I find I’m naturally drawn to a white palette with lots of woods and natural finishes, and whilst I do like the clean Scandi look, softer lines and more handmade style is definitely more my thing. I’m a country girl at heart and real vintage lover too so a little bit of old and new is fine by me.
Q8. And finally, what are your top tips for decorating your home this Autumn?
Autumn is a great time to plan a room scheme and a moodboard is the experts ‘go-to’ place to start and gather ideas together. A room doesn’t have to be all new so take pictures of any items you want to keep and then add any colour choices, patterns, looks or product updates, working it up until they all sit well together. Simpler is often better and remember to consider how your room scheme will look next season if it’s to be a ‘keeper’. Smaller accessories and flowers, of course, are wonderful ways to add easy updates to take a look from season to season.