Bringing together vintage bohemian styling with contemporary Scandinavian design, interiors blog Design Soda is packed with inspiration for every room in the house. We speak with blog founder, Ruth Matthews, about where her love for interiors comes from and why she decided to launch the blog.
Q: Tell us a bit about Design Soda:
I am a London-based interior and design blogger who focuses on colour, pattern and patina on my blog. I usually write pieces about our continuing home renovation (we moved in last year) DIY tutorials, my design crushes, styling ideas and shots of the things that capture my attention around London. I'm not entirely 2D though and there is also the odd lifestyle or travel piece but for the main part, Design Soda is all about interiors led design ideas.
Q: What made you decide to start Design Soda?
I started the blog in 2013 when we were a reasonably cool young couple with a new flat in a part of London that was about to become super trendy. The flat was very tired, but our enthusiasm wasn’t, I started the blog to chart our journey into creating a beautiful space on a tight budget. We are now the owners of both a little person, a cat, and a house in a less trendy part of London. Life may be a bit different these days but I’m still pretty focused in the style stakes so Design Soda now charts our continuing journey, making an interesting family home that doesn’t compromise on style or break the bank.
Q: Have your tastes changed since you began your blog?
Yes they have, but less than you might think. The tag line to my blog is ‘colour, pattern & patina’ and these are still the things that inspire me most. I love pattern and surfaces, live for the effect colour has on you and vintage is pretty well a staple in every room. However, I am also drawn to far more modern designs than I used to be and love to mix up fresh or minimalist design with older pieces in my home.
Q: Where do you look for inspiration when creating blog posts?
I take influence from things around me all the time. Of course I spend a fair bit of my time looking at interiors in the usual places – Pinterest, interiors magazines, Instagram, other blogs, or checking out the latest decor in hotels, at design shows and looking up new and interesting companies. But living in London is what really inspires me, from ideas to steal in commercial settings (I'm often taking mental notes over coffee in cafes) to the amazing architecture, great styling in shop windows and the colours people wear on my tube journey - inspiration is everywhere!
I look at what's around me all the time to see what may spark inspiration, often it happens to be things that others are starting to talk about. We are all sponges tapping into our environments, when something does spark I write pretty quickly and don't plan too far ahead, although I often have many draft ideas in bank too.
Q: Have you had any interior design disasters of your own?
Not anything too disastrous, in our first apartment we tried to paint a floor white without sanding it properly and the result was the wrong side of shabby! But I am horribly impatient with design, always wanting to see the end results, so slowing down is something I struggle with, usually my partner Dan reins me back to tortoise and not hare.
Q: Can you describe your home?
I struggle slightly with interior terms as I like to naturally flit between many styles. We definitely have a layered home that sits somewhere between bohemian-modern and Mid Century with touches of Scandinavian simplicity but there's also an emphasis on colour throughout. In practical terms, our home is a fairly small three bedroom Victorian house with lots of character and high ceilings. One of the things I love most about it is the fairly small rooms, which sounds counter-intuitive but actually allows me to lay out the different styles I like in separate zones without them competing alongside each other.
Q: Can you give us your top 5 interior design tips?
Put yourself firmly at the centre of all design, it's great to look at glossy images of seductive trends but if the style doesn't feel comfortable to you it will never feel truly like home. Go with your instinct and rein in any concerns about how others may judge your space, it’s you that lives with it after all.
If, like me, you’re drawn to colour then use it - don't be afraid to be bold. I can spend forever choosing a shade but I have never doubted the need to be bold when the room commands it. Be free with colour, but also edit down the number of main colours in each room, this avoids the design getting messy. As a rule of thumb I use two main colours and up to three accents per scheme. Also, the idea that dark tones make a room look and feel smaller is one of interior design’s biggest fallacies; if you like a dark colour, paint with abandon!
Let rooms evolve over time, Rome wasn't built in a day and neither should your home be. It should ideally be a story that grows and changes, start with the basics and build up by layering pieces that spark your curiosity over time.
I love to bring nature into my interior; from very trendy houseplants to the collection of natural history curios dotted throughout our house. I also use paint which is based on natural pigments rather than synthetic ones and have styled a branch with decorations in the bedroom - something that connects a room to the outside environment is always a winner in my eyes.
I can be quite bad at this, but really good design places practicality at its core. Consider the use of the space when you plan it and never neglect storage, especially if you have a family - children are messy things with little care for interior balance!
Q: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own blog?
I think blogging is fairly instinctive, if you blog about what you're passionate about, inspiration will come naturally and you will find your voice and audience with time. I really wasn't too bogged down with strategies or niches when I started blogging and I'm glad that my style and focus evolved as I grew. I think good old fashioned amateur passion takes you a long way at the start and is the best way to avoid feeling intimidated – it can be a little daunting at the start.
Q: Which is your favourite Houseology brand and why?
So, so hard! I love so many of the Houseology brands from Murmur textiles to Muuto pieces and Lene Bjerre who designed my much loved dressing table in the bedroom. But in the end I think I would have to choose Normann Copenhagen as it offers a combination of great investment pieces alongside a range of design items at accessible price points. I'm all about saving up and spending on the big items that you know you will keep, but also having access to great design that doesn't cost the earth.