Lockdown has been hard on our homes, as we’ve treated them to a 24/7 whole-household assault.

Now, as we adapt to the Covid “new normal”, it could be time to show them a little love.

New season homeware is filling the room sets in London’s bigger stores, design boutiques and, of course, it’s everywhere online.

The mood is for a quiet and comforting style, with low-key colours and soothing natural materials including wood, wool, copper, linen and stone.

“Muted hues like olive and slate bring tranquillity and comfort,” says Clotilde Passalacqua, heading up interior design at Ikea UK.

Aware of wastefulness, brands are flagging up quality and longevity.

At Heal’s, a favourite London store crammed with style and many floors of choice, boss Hamish Mansbridge explains: “Buying things to last is the best path to sustainability, maximising materials and minimising energy consumption.”


Simple and effective: Diego console table with granite-effect top and powder-coated Lsteel legs, £99 (furniturevillage.co.uk)

But quality — so good for the environment — is also claimed for the high street and supermarkets.

Sainsbury’s impressive team of 20 in-house designers is led by Andrew Tanner, himself a gifted ceramicist.

He says: “Customers now demand high-grade linens — that’s around 400 threads per inch. They want cast-iron cookware, with robust enamel coatings and 600 gsm towels, that’s grams of cotton per square metre. But at the same time goods must be affordable and easy to buy, whether in store or on the internet.”

Quality Sainsbury’s linens start at £12 for a pair of pillowcases and a cream cast-iron casserole is £45.

Brands are also tapping into “heritage” and archives.

At Ikea, expect wing chairs, plump cosy sofas, turned solid wooden legs, tweeds and plaids, and familiar patterns/shapes for china and glass. A chic mono houndstooth wingback chair is £199, a black stick-back chair, is £75 and a plaid two-seater sofa is £429.

The “modern archive” edit at John Lewis gives a new look to old favourite florals on wallpaper and rugs.

Swedish H&M HOME has a collaboration with the British Museum, putting flowers on to dusky backgrounds for plates, mugs, vases, candles and cushions, all inspired by the intricate paper mosaics of 18th-century artist Mary Delany and with prices from £1.99 to £29.99

“We’ve drawn a lot from 18th-century Britain this season, sparked by art, Romanticism and gardens,” says designer Guillaume Vaillant.

H&M also speaks of its “timeless classics”, including quality linen sheets, selling since 2009.

At Habitat, head of design Kate Butler says: “We’ve been doing durable design since the Sixties and some products are still going strong in many homes. We have long-standing suppliers and craft workshops working a long time on well-considered products that will last from home to home.”

“Made by hand” is the new mantra. When an object is crafted with care rather than produced in quantity, there’s a human connection for a lasting treasure.


Statement piece: Amtico Signature flooring from the Colour Edit range, £70 per sq m (amtico.com)

Find woven rush, string, cane and wicker, mouth-blown glass, hand-thrown pots and textured fabric weaves and rugs at H&M, Ikea and Habitat.

Have fun in autumn with tropical prints, brighter paints, quirky lamps and cushions galore for a quick fashion fix.

Tesco has bird-printed piped cushions for £15 and a dinner service for £40, while a Sainsbury’s peacock lamp, £45, gives style credentials.

Rely on your check list


  • See Which? reports — subscriptions cost £1 for the first month then £9.75 a month; have upholstery fabrics had a “rub test”? Upwards of 25,000 rubs is good for hard wear.


  • Exactly what is covered? Franke sinks are guaranteed for 50 years, John Lewis sofa frames for 15. Amtico will transfer its luxury vinyl tiles guarantee as homes change hands. Ikea has a 25-year guarantee on some kitchens, a 10-year guarantee for sofa frames and cushions, and 25 years for mattresses and bed bases.


  • Ask about cleaning and how to do it. “A properly cleaned carpet will last for perhaps 10 years, and hard flooring perhaps 20,” says Richard Ash, flooring buyer at John Lewis.

Repairs and spares

  • Can a product be repaired? Or revamped? For example, can the sofa you intend to buy be reupholstered, or does it come with loose covers that could be replaced? Can that table top be re-sanded — and could those kitchen cabinets be repainted for a new lease of life?

Installation and workmanship

  • Make sure fitted carpets, furniture and kitchens are correctly installed, wallpaper properly hung and curtains expertly made with good linings.

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