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Sleep Panel: Introducing Amy Heffernan

Amy Heffernan
Global design expert and interior stylist  

Amy is the former Interiors Director at Wallpaper* magazine and an unrivalled source of inspiration on how to sleep in style at home. Amy will discuss how the quality of sleep can have a huge effect on everything from our physical and mental wellbeing to our performance during the day. The culprit behind insomnia for some could actually be down to the way the bedroom is designed.



Where is the craziest place you've slept?

I have slept on multiple forms of transport but one of my most liberating sleeps was during a holiday with a friend. We went to Cuba, booking through a travel agent, but arrived at a boring beach hotel complex with terrible food. After two days of what felt like a holiday prison we hired a mini 4x4 and embarked on a road trip to Havana. Arriving into the city was a sight I will never forget; the grand colourful buildings crumbling away were jaw-droppingly beautiful. We had no plan but saw an impressive building in the centre overlooking the sea - the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Waved in by the doorman, we pulled up outside and wandered into the lobby to ask for a hotel room on the spot. The décor was old fashioned and overwhelmingly brown, much of the grandeur faded, but it had such a presence with a quietly seedy undertone. An unforgettable experience.


What bedroom trends never seem to change?

For me the main one has to be a crisp white bedlinen set. It never goes out of fashion and never should. Nothing beats the feeling of climbing into fresh white sheets. White sheets also work well with so many different décor schemes.


Design wise, what makes a bedroom more inviting?

An armchair placed strategically in line with the doorway definitely draws you into a bedroom. It is also a great way to pick up with colour scheme and gain a cosy reading spot. Personally, I love the glamour of a vanity table with mirror and seat. There is such a decadence to a vanity in the corner of a bedroom complete with a perfume or jewellery on display - an echo of the Hollywood era. It also has a great purpose too for hair styling. I love the design of vintage vanities and their contemporary counterparts, something Pinch have done very well.


Which hotel, B&B or luxury retreat would you most like to visit or revisit and why?

I have been lucky to travel extensively for work and play and stay in a vast array of hotels, from the extremely luxurious (baths with views of the Eiffel Tower) to functional airport chain hotels (business stops) and the odd horror! There are so many that I would love to revisit. For pure luxury and rest I would return to the Surin Phuket in Thailand designed by Edward Tuttle. The calming chalet rooms have a modern muted decor and are set over the sea surrounded by rich foliage. It offers pure escapism.

As a Londoner I haven’t often stayed at our own city’s finest hotels but I would love to wake up at one of the city’s destination hotels in the centre of town. I love to stay at hotels that have a totally different taste of decor to my own. Although I wouldn’t replicate the look at home, I love the granny chic style of the Soho House group and eclectic patterns of the Firmdale properties.


Where have you had the best night's sleep?

Nothing beats my own bed for a good night’s sleep but if pushed to look further afield I would recall a trip last summer in our months of freedom following lockdown. I stayed in West Dorset in a small pub with simple, tastefully decorated rooms near Chesil Beach. The room looked onto the sea and had an enormous super king sleigh bed from which you could listen to the sound of the waves. To be somewhere away from home felt so rejuvenating.


Tell us about your own bedroom?

My main intention for our current bedroom was to create a calming space, so there is lots of storage hidden behind simple doors with a mix of vintage furniture pieces. The walls are painted in a pale shade of blue grey, just off from white giving a gentle softness. After years of wooden floors, we chose a knotted-pile carpet for something warm and soft underfoot, comfort is key. For our windows I opted for a super simple white blackout blind to block streetlight paired with sheer white curtains which work really well in the day as they allow light in while maintaining a feeling of privacy as we live on a London street. They also bring a modern softness to the space. The furniture is mostly vintage which I love as they hold their own memories. On the wall I have an abstract Danish print I bought years ago which I love. The room is still evolving and will change over time.


What gets you up in the morning?

My daughter. As a baby she was a great sleeper but now she is three she often wakes up early and scrambles into our bed which she loves to jump on. We recently added a kitten to the mix who also likes to play at dawn, so there’s no chance of a lazy lie-in!


What helps you to sleep at night?

Fresh sheets, a good pair of pyjamas and a tidy room help me feel settled and ready for bed. I also have blackout blinds which I couldn’t live without as they block out the streetlight.


How do you help overnight guests feel welcome in your home?

When guests stay I love to leave a guest set at the end of the bed. These often include miniature bathroom essentials I’ve picked up along the way on hotel travels plus a fresh towel and eye mask. In the past when having guests to stay while we were away I even made pretend hotel brochures listing local recommendations and invented hotel amenities as a light-hearted welcome.


What luxury item would you take on a desert island?

A big question! I am assuming the island offers all the necessary bits for living so my luxury would be a drawing set - a box of Prismacolor coloured pencils and paper so that I could draw my surroundings and keep my mind occupied. I love to sketch though often don’t have the time to do it so with all the quiet endless days on a desert island I could while away the days drawing.


How would you best describe your interior style?

Definitely modern. I love to combine vintage and new pieces collected over time. At home I have a 1970s pink perspex dining table designed by British designer Peter Banks with a set of candy coloured Fritz Hansen Series 7 chairs. Vintage pieces but modern in design. I like homes that feel organic rather than designed and bought all under one scheme. Many of my pieces I feel have their own stories of how I came to acquire them or previous lives which I love. In our age of consciousness around sustainability it makes sense to work with vintage.


How did you get into Interior Design and what do you love about it?

As a child my parents dragged me around London’s modern furniture destination, The Conran Shop, and I always laugh that as an adult I can often be found trawling London’s furniture and interiors stores in just the same way. In my twenties I found myself at Wallpaper* magazine which gave me an amazing design education and gold ticket access to the international design scene. Working in the industry I love championing independent designers and sourcing fresh talent. For me quality and craftsmanship is key. Recently I have been curating design pieces for a new digital platform, Lymited, for which I have been able to promote a group of extremely talented designer-makers.


Which room in your house is your favourite?

My favourite room in the house is our daughter’s room. I designed a light but bold monochrome scheme with pastel off-pink walls and matching pink carpet. The back of the door is in a
bubblegum pink as a hidden detail. She has a beautiful Danish toddler bed and a 1930s vintage wardrobe. Aside from the mass of toys and books it is a very peaceful and happy room which I love to sit in and read.


What do you think will be the next big bedroom trend?

In every part of our lives now sustainability has come to the forefront of our priorities. This, along with wellness and the need to look after our mental health, very much ties into how we are seeing the bedroom as a personal retreat. These themes are coming through in bedroom furniture with the use of more natural materials at every level, such as rush in wardrobe panels. We are also seeing cocooning beds and extended headboards wide enough to include bedside tables and lamps, enveloping sleeping guests.


What tip would you give someone who wants to transform their bedroom space?

I would focus on what view you have from your bed and start there. Art can be a great source of inspiration, and having a piece of art that you love or a view through a window, can bring tranquillity and energy. Simple changes like looking at the position of the bed in your space and keeping clutter at bay all help to create a restful room.