Neighbourhood watch on interior design

What would you like the interior of your home to convey about you? One theory suggests that it rather depends on where you live.
Illustration: AdobeStockIllustration: AdobeStock
Illustration: AdobeStock

According to a study this week by online retailer Furniture and Choice, Londoners want to look intelligent, Liverpudlians aim to appear creative, and people from Edinburgh like to come across as relaxed.

One wonders how to design your house to suggest such qualities to visitors. The first probably involves a lot of bookshelves – as long as they are leatherbound Proust, rather than Danielle Steel paperbacks.

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Needlepoint cushions and patchwork quilts would probably suffice to convince guests of your tasteful creativity. And for a relaxed feel, low lighting, lots of plants and wide uncluttered spaces are advised.

But, is it true that interior tastes change in different parts of the country? You would think that with global companies supplying items for homes around the world, that 21st-Century interiors would become somewhat homogenized.

But there are definitely differences in various parts of the country, and if you spend your working life looking at high-end properties – as I do – you can definitely hazard a guess as to where a house is located just by looking at interiors, long before you check the address.

“Who lives in a house like this?” was the famous question Loyd Grossman drawled out on the TV programme Through the Keyhole in the 1990s. But a more interesting query, to me at least, is: where is a house like this?

I think the most obvious distinctions tend to be between the two major cities of the Central Belt.

The expensive homes of Glasgow generally have a different vibe than elsewhere, with statement designer furniture and bold choices in colour.

The trend of brightly hued kitchen cabinets – in high-gloss neon – played out largely in homes in the West End of Glasgow a few years back, but I didn’t see many, if any, examples in the Capital.

Banquette leather seating in a dining-kitchen is a surefire indicator that you’re in the West too.

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Meanwhile, Edinburgh denizens embraced the recent trend for grey cabinetry much more than their western neighbours.

There is also a particular type of antique rug, usually a dark red, which features in a high percentage of homes in Edinburgh, which you don’t often see outside the city. I’ve often wondered if they are standard issue – one per household.

Elsewhere, Aberdeen style tends to be neutral and minimalist with bright-white interiors, while homeowners in Perthshire are the most likely to have bespoke, local items – sheepskin rugs by the beds, carved wood tables, and even the odd tartan carpet for a shooting lodge look.

Borders homes, on the other hand, tend to reflect the pretty cottage aesthetic. Here is where you’ll spot the most gingham, open kitchen shelving and umbrella stands.

Some differences can be explained by the various blank canvases provided by vernacular architecture, of course. But maybe we get a lot more influence on our personal style from our immediate neighbours than most of us would like to think.