Sonia Adams is an award-winning interior designer renowned for creating homes that are timeless, elegant and liveable. Founder of boutique design studio Sonia Adams Interiors, she specialises in made to measure curtains and bespoke blinds. In fact, Sonia only recently featured as an interior designer providing expert advice to readers in the Mail on Sunday. We discover how her career began, what continues to inspire her – and meet her adorable Dachshund Lola!
What made you want to become a bespoke curtain maker?
My story begun at The Curtain Exchange, in Fulham. I was originally a sales associate in the made to measure curtains department. This role gave me the necessary skills to move into a managerial position, supervising the entire flagship store. This experience gave me the personal confidence to pursue working for myself. Sonia Adams Interiors is the by-product of such a leap. Supported by a backbone of skilled staff, I began to explore the world of bespoke curtains and made to measure blinds. My trusted team and I work together to supply products of the highest possible quality. Made to measure curtains and blinds are the ultimate final touch to any home. They provide a room with depth, interest and a little bit of luxury.
How would you describe your interiors style?
My interiors style has evolved several times over the years. I think this is because I have changed and flourished both in my work and personal life. I tend to steer clear of following trends – they can date as quickly as they arrive. If I had to sum up my interior style, I would say my home is a reflection of my outlook on interiors. Picture a contemporary ambiance, supported by natural calm tones. My family home combines of a mixture of the past and the present.
Have you always had a creative side?
Since my childhood I have always had a creative side – I am a sixties child after all! I would sketch dress designs, using magazine snippets to inspire my drawings. Then my very patient mother would construct those designs using her beloved Singer sewing machine. She still has it to this very day. My childhood was not an easy ride, but then whose is? The fact that we couldn’t simply buy new outfits in department stores fanned the flames of my creativity!
I have many fond childhood memories of time spent in the local fabric shops of Walthamstow market. I loved touching and falling in love with the fabric and trimmings that would be used to create my new dress. An important lesson was learnt at this stage in my life: not one inch of fabric ever went to waste. I used offcuts to make tiny outfits, cushions and bedding for my beloved Sindy dolls (I was never a Barbie fan). To this day I still adhere to this ethos. All my calculations for fabric quantities are triple checked. This ensures perfect accuracy in the curtain- and blind-making process with virtually no wastage.
What tips do you have for anyone embarking on a room makeover?
I guess my number one tip is that there is no right, and there most definitely is no wrong. Our unique style is what defines us; it’s what makes us stand out from the ever-growing crowd. For those not sure of what ‘their style’ is, Instagram, Pinterest and interior design magazines offer a bottomless well of inspiration. Not only do these platforms inspire and entertain, they help you discover. Some of my most favourite Instagram pages include House and Garden, Elle Decoration, Living etc, Homes and Gardens and Wallpaper. I also like Colefax and Fowler, Clarke and Clarke, Romo Fabrics, Divine Savages, Rockett St George, Studio Duggan, Beata Heuman. The list is endless! From personal experience these are a great start when embarking on a new room makeover.
What’s been the most exciting interiors project you’ve worked on?
The majority of my projects have been exciting. I am currently working with a fantastic young professional couple and their family in Fulham, who really are dream clients.
Together we have had great fun exploring fabrics, paint colours, patterns, design and textures. The majority of their three-storey Victorian home is now close to completion. Everything except the lounge and dining areas, which we will complete within the next few months. It’s been an interesting project, as they have been bold and daring with their final fabric choices. The completed curtains and soft furnishings look absolutely breathtaking. My client wants their lounge to have the wow factor. I’m super excited for our sourcing trips to Chelsea Harbour. Sonia Adams Interiors will have to work a little magic!
Do you have any good tips for choosing curtain fabrics?
Choosing the right fabric is a minefield. There is so much choice – perhaps too much choice. For example, if you’re thinking of using silk for a south-facing window, this will certainly sun fade and rot over time. My one tip would be to avoid natural fabrics on all south-facing windows. It’s an expensive mistake to make! Happily, there are plenty of man-made silks and linens available as an alternative.
What interior trends have you seen dominating 2019 so far?
For sure sustainability is currently the hottest topic. Crittall-style doors and internal walls are back in vogue and here to stay. These can be totally transformative, providing a clean, modern edge, while opening up space and harnessing natural light. Fringing, tassels and trimmings are swooshing back into home interiors. This embellished look is making its way into many of my clients’ cushion, lampshade and curtain orders. Brass hardware is also proving popular. It looks stunning with dark kitchen cabinetry. In terms of colours, we are seeing lots of feminine tones such as blush, dusty pink and bronze.
How would your friends describe you in a sentence?
Reliable, good in a crisis, daredevil, adventurous and easy-going are some of the words my friends/family use to describe me.
Have you always been based in and around Bromley, SE London?
No, I grew up in North London but moved south of the river almost 35 years ago. More recently, we moved to Sundridge Park, Bromley. This was by no means pre-planned. In fact, my husband and I stumbled across our beautiful home by sheer chance. But there was absolutely no turning back, it really was love at first sight!
What’s been your career highlight since becoming an interior designer 10 years ago?
I don’t really have one career highlight. However, it’s such a thrill when a previous client returns to Sonia Adams Interiors for a new project.
When did “intern” Lola Blossom join the team?
My beloved dog Lola has been part of the team since day one! “The Duchess”, as we like to refer to her, is almost 11 years old and is my ultra loyal companion. When I’m in the office, she snores happily and loudly beside my desk for hours on end in her special bed. Lola always welcomes clients at the office, and also attends the occasional sourcing day.
What’s the best thing about owning a Dachshund?
It really is hard to fault the Dachshund breed. The best thing about Lola is her crazy personality. Not a day passes when she hasn’t made me chuckle with her little ways. Saying that, Dachshunds are notoriously stubborn and Lola is possibly the most headstrong mutt on the planet. It really is a case of her way of the highway. Dachshunds are extremely loyal and fantastic guard dogs. They might be tiny but they are ever so mighty!
Where do you like to wine and dine when you’re in London?
For years now, Brixton Village has been my place of choice. It may not incorporate a five-course champagne experience, but trust me, it’s so much better. Brixton Village is lined with small independent restaurants, including Portuguese, Thai and Afro-Caribbean, all featuring local produce. The atmosphere is terrific, especially on weekends when like-minded professionals come out to play! We also love Gloria Trattoria in Shoreditch. it’s the best Italian in town!
Which interior designers do you admire and find inspiring?
This is a hard one, as there are so many incredible designers. I’d have to say Kit Kemp, Beata Heuman, Nicky Haslam, D’Erlanger and Sloan, Rita Konig, Rose Uniacke, and Helen Green Designs. Also Studio Ashby, Jane Rockett, Studio Duggan, Susie Atkinson and Todhunter Earle.
What’s your favourite room in your house and why?
Undoubtedly my bedroom. I have kept the interior very calm and simplistic. So after a long day it is the perfect retreat in which to wind down and switch off. I’m very fortunate, I have the opportunity to travel often for work and pleasure. Yet wherever I am in the world, nothing comes close to my very own bed.
How do you like to relax in your spare time?
I love to cook for family and friends, so I always make time to discover new recipes. My husband has a hectic work travel schedule, so meal times when we are all together are cherished. It’s something we always love to make an evening of. I was brought up in a large household and cooking was at the heart of my family and extended family life. This is something I have maintained. I also walk Lola a couple of times a day. I find it so relaxing, come rain or shine. Lastly, my daughter and I have just taken up yoga. Once we get the giggling out of our system we really enjoy it.
Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone about to embark on a home renovation?
Please take your time. Home renovations should by no means be rushed. It’s usually impatience that prompts expensive mistakes and poor choices. There is always that urge to hurry and complete a renovation, because it takes over your home and your life. But all those vital details and decisions need time, patience and energy. Also, finding trusted tradesman is paramount!
What’s the best thing about your job?
My clients trust me and give me the opportunity to work creatively on their homes. This is the dream for any interior designer.
Can you share your plans for Sonia Adams Interiors?
My business is currently small. I like it this way, as it enables me to personally oversee each project and client. Who knows, things may change in the future – but for now it suits me as it is. My family are everything to me, so my priority is to always balance work and home life.
Any advice for someone trying to choose paint colours?
Buy some lining paper and cut it into large sections approximately 50cm in length. Paint each piece with your chosen sample colour, and stick the sections onto different walls during the day. I always advise my clients to switch on a couple of lamps in the evening. You would be amazed at the difference. Colours look totally different depending on the time of day. It’s so important to see and understand this before committing to an entire area of colour.
Which brands do you like to work with and why?
For fabrics it really depends on the brief and the budget. For contemporary projects I like Romo, De la Couna and Chase Irvin, Clarke and Clark, and House of Hackney. For the classics I’d choose Colefax and Fowler, Bennison, Mulberry, GP and J Baker, Jane Churchill, Manuel Canovas, Chelsea Textiles, and Zoffany.
What’s the secret to having a successful made to measure curtains, made to measure blinds, and interior design business?
Always listen to your clients. Build up a good working relationship with them. Sometimes you can be working on a project for months, so it’s imperative you understand each other from day one. The majority of my clients are retuning or recommendations. I think that’s when you know you have a successful small business. Having an amazing team of makers, fitters and suppliers is crucial. Without these, Sonia Adams Interiors wouldn’t be possible. That’s why I am extremely grateful to each and every member of my team. I’m one very lucky lady to have them!