Interior Design

5 tips on creating a cozy, layered home – from interior designer Emma Sims Hilditch

This is how a design professional, known for her homely, welcoming interiors, conjures up that elegant, lived-in look

How to create a layered interior
(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

How to take a home that's a blank canvas and conjure up an interior design scheme so that it immediately looks layered, welcoming and lived in? This is a speciality of British interior designer, Emma Sims Hilditch.

See: Interior design tips – decorating secrets for the world's top experts

'When designing our clients' homes, it is our top priority to ensure the house feels lived in and homely. Even if we are starting from scratch with no personal possessions (which happens occasionally), we look to ensure the house feels like it has evolved over time,' says Emma who heads up interior design agency, Sims Hilditch

Below, Emma shares her top 5 tips for creating that layered, cozy interior we all long to live in.

1. Start with one key fabric

How to create a layered interior

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

'Creating a cozy interior is achieved firstly by layering key pieces of furniture with upholstery, lighting, art and antiques. Then comes layering with textiles, accessories and objects,' says Emma. 

'When beginning a project, I also consider color, print, and texture in equal measure. Depending on our client and the brief we have taken, I will look to find one key fabric initially, perhaps used for the curtains to become inspiration for the entire scheme.'

See: Layering in interior design – the layering steps that interior designers always follow for successful schemes

2. Begin layering in accent fabrics

How to create a layered interior

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

'We then begin the layering process, adding smaller scale fabrics for cushions and lampshades, weaves for upholstery and perhaps a grass cloth or linen for the wallpaper to add texture. 

See: How to mix patterns in a room – an interior design masterclass

'My top three tips for layering fabrics are: 

  • 'Go with your instinct and initially pull out as many fabrics as you like. These can then be shortlisted by sitting the swatches next to each other on a table and checking that in your eyes they sit comfortably together.
  • 'Don’t be afraid to include a number of different patterned fabrics in a scheme. For me as long as the colours are complementary then a scheme can have a variety of patterns in smaller and large scales. 
  • 'Don’t be too prescriptive, the aim is to create an interior with depth, warmth and personality.'

3. Consider the floors and ceilings

How to create a layered interior

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

'Think about all the surfaces of a room when considering how to add layers,' says Emma. 'The flooring could be a timber, with a large sisal rug and then layered on top a smaller decorative rug. Ceilings should not be forgotten and we have been known to wallpaper a ceiling to give a really great effect.'

4. Source artisan and antique buys for interest

How to create a layered interior

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

'We are really passionate about sourcing quality products from artisan makers quite often from the UK and Europe. I spend much of my time (when it is safe to do so) travelling in search of new inspiration. A favorite find are the headboards at Heckfield Place Hotel, woven by hand from rushes gathered in a nearby river. Very artisan in a super cool way. 

'Antique markets can also be a great place to find one off, unique objet,' says Emma.

See: Shopping for antiques with Emma Sims Hilditch – her top tips on where to buy in the UK

How to create a layered interior

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

'Part of the fun of being an interior designer is to see trends evolve and they certainly have over the 25 years that I have been in the industry. Although we are not a trend-led business per se, of course interior fashions do influence our work. 

'We have seen the resurgence of chintzy pelmets of the '80s and '90s, bold colorful patterned fabrics contrasted together to create a maximalist interior and even the odd colourful powder room (though I’m thankful we won’t ever see the days of an olive or salmon three-piece)!'