The secrets of showhome style

by Francesca

When you’re thinking of moving house, there’s nothing like a showhome viewing to give you plenty of interior design inspiration and maybe a touch of house envy!  CALA Homes works with an expert team of interior designers across the UK to create aspirational showhomes with a real wow factor.

Now CALA has brought together a panel of its interior design experts to share some of their secrets to showhome style and help us all create that professional look in our own homes.

CALA’s designer panel included:

Eileen Kesson, Envision Showhomes

Pat Nightgale, Blocc Ltd

Jon Piling, Abode

Felicity Stevens, Haus Interiors

What are the hottest interior trends right now?

Eileen: What we are seeing are two very different design directions coming through. The first is a soft organic theme of natural materials like grass, cloth type wall coverings, rattan detailing on furniture, pale blonde woods and chalky paints in the full spectrum of greens, all teamed with living planting adding ‘life’ and greenery. In stark contrast, there is also a much more luxe and opulent palette of rich emerald and deep blues, brass or gold detailing, warm walnut wood finishes and bold ‘statement’ panoramic feature walls with super-scale foliage or botanical motifs to add drama.

Pat: A colour palette of cool neutrals with natural elements based on bringing nature into the home.  Especially during lock-down, the trend has been designing for wellbeing and comfort, enjoying the home and the living space. Natural organic materials, lots of different textures on walls, floors and fabrics to make living spaces tactile and interesting. Furniture style is modern rustic, a blend of old and new, allowing you to up-cycle older pieces of furniture in your home and mix them with some new additions.

Jon: Interior trends are shifting, this is partly to do with the evolution of style, but also people working from home more and being more ‘home focused’. We are seeing all the big bold masculine upholstered walls with brass details and strong colours fading away. Instead, much calmer, peaceful interiors are coming through. We are designing lots of spaces that have ivory/linen tones, subtle accent colours in ochre, watery blues or sage greens, with furniture which is curvy, quirky and design-led.

Felicity: Interior design is forever changing, with trends from the past often coming back with a twist. At Haus Interiors we are fluid with our inspiration, but we do have a few schemes coming up where we have found influence from both the ‘Japanordic’ and ‘colour block’ trends. 

Japanordic sees inspiration from both Japanese and Nordic interior design; think east meets west. Clean lines combined with Scandinavian textures, muted colours with warm hues and lots of natural light. Colour Block is a colourful twist on contemporary interior design. This trend sees the elimination of smaller patterns, instead working with geometric shapes on a larger scale.

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?

Eileen: Interiors are fashion followers too and launch their own ‘catwalk’ shows or exhibitions twice a year which is a great opportunity to catch up on what’s new and covers the whole spectrum from furniture and fabrics to styling ideas. Leading interior design magazines also have their own online platforms which you can access for inspiration and a fresh look at what’s going on. With interior design being such a visual job you are always taking in what you see, and subconsciously filing away bits and pieces that appeal or you feel would work well.

Pat: We go to major interior trade shows all over the world a couple of times a year and also in the UK to ensure our ideas are always fresh and exciting.  We have to be at least two seasons ahead of what you see on the high street! Of course, fashion is a great source of inspiration, continually watching and sourcing new ideas for style and colours.

Jon: Our inspiration comes from all over, but rarely from seeing other people’s interiors.

Looking back at work from the past 12 months, we have a scheme that came from a wallpaper sample. It’s a stunning wallpaper from Moooi and Arte that is very impactful and allowed us to pick tones out of the wallpaper to use throughout the house. It also inspired the accessories and artwork too. This is quite often the way that schemes come together, we will find a really key fabric and a furniture style that sets the direction for the entire project.

Felicity: Other than the obvious routes for inspiration, such as design shows, editorials and digital platforms, we take inspiration from new suppliers, everyday life and, most importantly, each other. New suppliers are a great way to discover new trends, and working with fantastic trade suppliers from all over Europe, we are able to see first-hand, what is coming through before it hits the retailer’s shelves. Inspiration can come at any time, sometimes when you least expect it, but keeping our eyes and ears peeled at all times means we never miss an opportunity for something new.

What design advice would you give to someone working with the blank canvas of a new home?

Eileen: A blank canvas soon becomes less daunting when you start to focus on your ‘core choices’. The flooring and your kitchen choices are the two springboard areas that we usually start with in showhome design. From there, you can continue to layer in your other important ‘fixed’ features such as tiling and wardrobe finishes. Take photos as you go; these are great to refer to and allow you to stand back and really consider what might or might not work in a more objective way.

Pat: Before you move in, make a plan, measure the rooms then scale in your furniture, that way you know what you have to work with. Don’t be afraid of colour.  Have a family conference on everyone’s favourite colours and then decide what you’re going to have.  Light neutrals are good on the main walls and bring in a stronger colour on one feature wall in a room or hallway, then echo this in touches throughout the home, in artwork, cushions or bedlinen, so that there is a feeling of coordination.  Let the kids choose their own wall colours, this really starts to bond them with their new environment.  Have lots of family photos in galleries, in the hallway or on the stair wall.  Choosing the right lighting is important, and also add floor lamps in corners and lots of plants, to soften corners and bring in greenery and colour.

Jon: Firstly, I would research ideas; there are so many interior design websites and social platforms such as Pinterest and an infinite amount of interior inspo on Instagram. Find out what you like and hone in on that. Secondly, buy an A2 sheet of white board for each room you want to design. On this, print off any ideas you have found online, any fabrics, furniture or finishes you want to use and then stand back and see if it all works together. This is exactly what we do in the studio to ensure the scheme works.

Felicity: First and foremost, plan your space. Think carefully about how you are going to live in that beautiful new home of yours, and do this room by room. It can be overwhelming to say the least, so being methodical at this stage is important. Once you have nailed down the space planning, get creative. Create mood boards, and be fluid. Go as wild as you want at this stage, to really engage your creative juices. Now you have your space planned and your style mapped out, work your furniture and accessories around them. Remember, things take time and your home is not a showhome; it should be comfortable, personal and unique. 

Let us in on one design secret or top tip that you use to create wow showhomes!

Eileen: Focus on colour coordination, balance and a smooth harmonious flow from room to room. Although each space should always have its own ‘wow’ such as an amazing light or a favourite print, try to keep a ‘thread’ of connection between all the spaces. Personally I am a huge wallpaper fan – a fabulous on-trend wallpaper can add instant pizazz and lift a room in an afternoon!

Pat: Create a focal point in each room.  Something that draws the eye.  It could be a piece of artwork, a mirror, cushions or a light fitting.  Something unexpected, and sensational!  A brightly coloured rug in a neutral room, or wallpaper the ceiling! Something that introduces character and real style.

Jon: For us, the big trick that everyone misses are curtains, they can make or break an interior scheme. Typically we would always try and go for wall to wall, floor to ceiling wave headed curtains to make the room look wider and taller – after all, who wouldn’t want that in their home?!

Felicity: Creating a memorable experience is imperative, and impact does not always have to be obvious. We always consider the basic senses of sight, scent and touch.

Sight – a well-balanced interior that is pleasing on the eye

Scent – selecting a scent that creates a memorable experience

Touch – using layers of texture so that the interior is interesting to touch

For further information on CALA Homes and to view a professionally designed showhome near you, visit

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