Breaching the crisp, auburn seal of October feels something like crossing the finish line at the end of a marathon. The summer is comfortably out of the way, tucked into the recesses of my consciousness while I dig deep into the ottoman to retrieve necessary paraphernalia for the cosier seasons (read: throws, lots and lots of throws). We can now, with license, “rug up” for a trip to the pub, tuck pyjama bottoms into socks, and carry hot mugs of tea around as if they’re actual human appendages. This is the season to revel in the home, confined as we may be by rain and cold, layering it up with tactile accessories in the same way we might wind a scarf around our shoulders and brace for the chill of the autumn air.
There is something enchanting about the layering of textures and patterns at home. I am always drawn to the sedimentary effect of built-up layers of printed, woven, dyed or fringed homewares, thrown together over years of sourcing and collecting. An indigo cushion of seeping blues atop a turkey work armchair, draped in a Kantha throw or an antique suzani counterpane is just one image that appears in my mind’s eye at the mention of a layered interior. No season is better suited to this look than autumn.
“Autumn is certainly about layering,” says Martin Waller, the founder of global design brand Andrew Martin. “While we don coats, scarves and gloves, your home will benefit from extra rugs and throws, patterns and rich colours.” His is the company famed for its pattern-clashing approach to interior design, with core designs across fabrics and wallcoverings and collaborations with the likes of Kit Kemp MBE, interior designer Sophie Paterson.
It is in this spirit that we discuss the potential for the home today: pattern clashing and textural layering to the end of creating spaces that feel at once considered and cosy, decadent and personal.
Arguable pioneers of this decor style are the Bloomsbury Group. Famed for their hand-painted murals, globally-sourced soft furnishings and richly patterned textiles, the artistic, intellectual set has had a profound aesthetic influence on the contemporary design zeitgeist. “Anyone faintly familiar with the Bloomsbury Group will understand that they really were the masters of layering in the home,” says Brett Tryner, a director at property and auction firm, Cheffins. “The spaces the group inhabited were riots of colour and pattern and have become modern-day sources of inspiration for today’s trend for multi-layered interiors,” he adds.
The obvious places to start this process of layering are the walls. In a room of any size, the layered look is easy to achieve by making an impact with a patterned wallcovering or hand-painted mural (for the more creative amongst us). For inspiration, look to the work of artist Magda Gordon who recently worked on a painted ceiling commission for design studio, Campbell Rey. Creating vignettes around the room with accessories that contrast with the larger swathes of patterning will help you slowly start to build this look. Positioning a folk-style, painted cabinet like the one belonging to Gabby Deeming, the founder of fashion company Day Dress, against a chintzy wallpaper from Soane Britain will support a table lamp topped with a block printed, linen empire shade from Pooky and an elegant delft vase from Trouva. With just a few patterns and textures contrasted in close proximity, you can begin to approximate this layered aesthetic. Add a Japanese screen or an antique verdure tapestry from 1stdibs to the mix for a bolder, more eclectic feel.
The floor can also play its part in contributing to this layered, cocooning style. Fitted carpets with deeply saturated colours in patterns like tartan or floral will do the trick. Carpet company Brintons has a wide range of styles including a particularly striking collaboration with Timorous Beasties. For renters or those unwilling to commit to a more permanent flooring option, why not try layering rugs to create a mosaic of pattern underfoot? Matthew Williamson’s collaboration with rug manufacturer Obeetee is a wonderful place to start for unusual, hand-tufted rugs, as is Campbell-Rey’s collaboration with Nordic Knots. More budget-friendly, layerable alternatives exist, such as the Atlas rug from Cosy Coco, and of course, a visit to local auction houses for antique kilims and jute options wouldn’t go amiss.
In the bedroom, do experiment with pattern and colour in unexpected ways to layer up with pattern and texture. When it comes to bedlinen, patterned duvet covers are hardly radical, but a floral fitted sheet will highlight the layered effect you so desire. Large-scale, blousy floral bedlinen from companies like Sheridan or Indian-inspired, paisley varieties from Ian Snow would pair beautifully with an equally intricately patterned fitted sheet. These are available from independent makers on Etsy or from H&M Home.