Why maximalist interiors aren’t going anywhere in 2022 – and other interior design tips from online furniture store Barley Interiors, Darlington
Japandi chic, maximalist décor, artisan makers, inspired interiors and the biggest interior design trends of 2022 – we meet the interior designers in Darlington putting the fun into functional furniture.
We’re all about inspiring interiors.
After all, that’s what interior design is meant to do, isn’t it? Inspire us. Transport us. Embody us and energise us.
Which is probably why we’re now officially – and rather wholeheartedly – in love with Barley Interiors. Because they help our homes do all this and more.
See, the trick to doing anything well is to do it with passion. And this online home décor destination and furniture store based in Darlington was born out a shared passion between husband-and-wife founders Tom and Sarah Coley for unique and beautifully handcrafted furniture; furniture that embodies individuality, functionality and, ultimately, home comfort. Oh, and which doesn’t break the bank, either.
Having finally fulfilled their dream of working together nearly 10 years after they first met – and now with the additional expertise and inspiration they find in their eight-year-old daughter (and self-described ‘tornado’), Harriet – Sarah and Tom are committed to helping you find affordable, artisan-crafted furniture that will not only look perfect in your home now, but that you’ll love for many years to come.
Because Barley Interiors is a family-run furniture store that never compromises style, yet still understands the reality of family life. After all, no-one wants to pay a lump sum for a vase that’s going to shatter with a flick of their dog’s tail, do they?
What’s Barley Interiors all about?
[Sarah] For us, it’s our passion – not only for beautiful interiors, but for helping people find their own style and build spaces that really work for them.
As a small, family-run company, we’re very much hands-on and speak to customers daily about their projects and plans. All our products are curated with this in mind, and we look to find pieces that are not only beautiful but are also practical and solve the kinds of problems our customers are looking to overcome.
We’re also devoted to building a company that benefits everyone involved: from our artisans and makers around the world to our customers and, as we grow, our staff. For us, Barley Interiors isn’t just about creating value in terms of profit. It’s about bringing our pieces into your home, whilst also ensuring the planet doesn’t suffer for it.
What will we find at Barley Interiors that we won’t find anywhere else?
[Tom] Our personal touch. Not only are our products personally curated, but if customers pick up the phone and call us, or drop us an email, they will be speaking directly with us. There are not many websites out there where you can hop on live chat and get advice from a professional interior designer!
We take the time to get to know our customers: what they’re looking for and what they’re hoping to achieve. This means we’re in a great position to give honest, transparent advice.
Is that true even when you may not stock what your customers are looking for?
[Tom] Absolutely! Sometimes, that advice might be that we don’t currently have something we think is right for them – so we will go and find it. We have a vast network of artisans, suppliers and manufacturers we can call on when we’re looking for something in particular for a customer.
Many of the items on our website can also be customised to suit, whether that’s changing a finish or colour, or adjusting dimensions. We had a customer recently who loved one of our media units but was very limited on space. So, we worked with her and the manufacturer to design a bespoke piece in the same style that suited her requirements perfectly.
What do you see as being some of the biggest interiors trends for 2022?
[Sarah] Colour, colour and more colour! We’re seeing people moving away from the safe greys and whites and bringing more personality back into the home with bold colours and patterns. The maximalist trend will continue to grow as more people catch the bug; it starts with one piece, but soon spirals into homes full of personality and character. We love it!
Even in more subdued styles, colour is creeping in. The hard lines and bright whites of traditional minimalist interiors are being replaced by more natural and earthy tones and textures.
As always, the Scandinavian style is still going strong. But with East Asian influences merging in, we’re seeing the continued rise of the ‘Japandi’ movement – and we’re all for it!
Tom, you combine multi-media design, marketing and software development with a love for woodworking. What’s the first thing you look for in a piece of furniture before you agree to stock it at Barley Interiors?
[Tom] It’s got to have that right blend of form and function. I think about how that piece would be used in our own home, or our friends’ or parents’ homes. You might have the most beautiful side table in the world, but if one waft of the dog’s tail would knock it over then it’s not going to work in reality.
We see so much design for design’s sake these days. For me, it’s always about being practical. ‘Does it look good?’ is important to ask, but so is ‘will it do the job it’s designed to do?’. ‘Will it last?’. ‘Will it make life better for its owner, or will it cause friction?’ These questions are all equally as important.
Sarah, you’re a Residential and Commercial Interior Designer – what, for you, makes a perfectly designed interior?
[Sarah] Interior design gives me a unique feeling of freedom and creativity. It allows me to create spaces that influence the way we inhabit space, move through it and interact with it, so it’s all about the psychology behind the design.
For me, the perfect interior reflects the personalities of those that use it, and which can transform the emotions of its inhabitants. If a space looks good, works well and makes you feel better, then it’s perfect.
Just like most design disciplines, flawed interior design stands out – it shouts up and you know exactly what’s wrong. Whereas good interior design is often invisible. If a space is designed well, people often can’t point to why they like it, it just works. If a client walks into a room at the end of a project and talks about how they feel rather than what looks good, then I call that a success.
Harriet is the muse and inspiration of the business. What are her favourite colours and trends right now?
[Tom] Anything jungle-themed with animal print is right up her street! She’s a maximalist at heart. Her bedroom currently has three different wallpapers, dark, bold colours and lots of gold, neon and faux plants. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where the decor ends and the mess begins!
And what does the future look like for Barley Interiors?
[Sarah] As we grow, we want to break some of the stigma attached to interior design. People often have this notion that interior design is pretentious or arrogant, and that strict rules must be followed.
We want to inspire people to express themselves in their homes. Sure, some guidelines and tips can help ground a design, but we love breaking the rules and encouraging our customers to do the same. We often speak to customers who say they would love to do something bold but are scared of what others might think. We say go for it! If you can’t be yourself at home, where can you be?!
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Sarah’s style: Boho / Eclectic
‘I love the boho style because it allows your own personality to shine,’ says Sarah. ‘You can break the rules and fill a space with things you love! The abundance of natural earthy tones and textures, combined with oodles of plants, make for such a calming environment.’
Tom’s Style: Industrial / Mid-Century Modern
‘I have a thing for more industrial interiors, but with a mid-century twist,’ says Tom. ‘I love how rustic materials, such as iron, brass and copper, contrast with the softer lines and colours of mid-century pieces.’
Harriet’s style: Maximalism / Exotic
‘I love anything with animals, cheetahs and axolotls are my favourites!’ says Harriet. ‘My bedroom looks like a jungle and I love my gold lamps and leaf wallpaper.’