Living Room Covet | Three International Designers

  • est speaks with three leading international designers on how their unique style surfaces in the living room.

    We caught up with the directors of Paris-London studio Guillaume Alan, Belgian studio Nathalie Deboel Interior Design and London-New York studio nune to find out how they design a well-resolved and comfortable living space. These three design studios take us through how they define an inspiring living space, incorporate signature tones and textures and why they invest in quality pieces such as a foundational rug to transform a space. 

    In partnership with Hali 

    Texture transforms the Slope Townhouse living space designed by nune.


    nune founder and director Sheena Murphy established her interior design studio in New York. A British native, Sheena and her family returned to London where Sheena has set up a new home and second headquarters.

    Sheena describes her studio’s aesthetic as having a quiet palette that’s materially-sensitive, layered and comfortable. She says while they approach every home holistically, the living room is where the comfort factor takes on a new level, by layering textures, tones and finishes. “Because of how heavily used the living room tends to be, it’s often a starting point from which we develop the visuals for the rest of the home, and it’s therefore typically one of the most important spaces to get right,” she says.

    In the living room, nune’s aesthetic typically leans on a neutral palette, which Sheena says gives you wiggle room to mix things up, dependant on the architectural context and client. Regardless, they always incorporate a mix of warm and cool tones in metals, woods, stone, paint and upholstery. “We love vintage metal lighting, natural-fibre rugs, linens, wools and velvet upholstery, natural stone surfaces, light wood finishes and neutral-toned window and wall treatments,” she adds. 

    A bold striped rug creates visual interest in the Bruey Cottage living space designed by nune, where the monotone palette blends with the rustic charm of exposed timber beams.

    To create an inspiring living space in both look and feel, Sheena mingles elements such as marble, travertine or metal finishes, or more than one rug. “Layering a few rugs can really help enrich a space, creating a more enveloping, welcoming atmosphere, and more physically indulgent experience,” she says. 

    Sheena affirms that rugs not only provide a visual experience in a living space by introducing colour, texture and graphic interest, but they can also aesthetically and physically bring everything together. “Most importantly for me, though, is that they can provide a very satisfying physical experience underfoot; what’s better than coming home after a busy day, kicking off your shoes, and sinking your feet into a well-made, cosy rug?” For this reason, Sheena says when selecting a living room rug, they put as much focus on the weaving process as they do on the materials used and their impact on the environment and human health. 

    Resembling the hand-knotted Savannah – Ash rug by Hali, this grey rug offers a comforting and contemporary base to Sheena Murphy’s London home.

    Nathalie Deboel Interior Design

    Belgian designer Nathalie Deboel says they create warm and minimal spaces by focusing on natural light, textures and materials. “Our interiors are timeless, with a strong focus on beautiful objects, art and furniture,” she says. 

    Nathalie knows that the living room is where everyone comes together to relax. She often organises a living room around an open fire, library and a large coffee table, considering how natural light also affects the atmosphere. “You can almost compare the living room in a home to a public square in a village where everyone gathers,” she says. “Where you collect souvenirs and books in a beautiful library; where you can sit down and tell stories by the open fire; where you invite friends and family around the coffee table.” 

    This is all achieved through a calm and muted palette, layered with patinated furniture, vintage objects and tailor-made pieces. “When you work with soft and neutral tones, it’s very important to accentuate these tones with different structures and textures,” Nathalie says. “This gives a space warmth and depth and livens up the room.” 

    A variety of natural materials reveal themselves in Nathalie’s projects such as linen, cotton, silk and wool, as well as walnut, elm and rosewood. Rugs are what Nathalie says tie together all of the loose elements. “A beautiful rug is the base of an inspiring and comforting space, not only in the living room but throughout the entire home,” she says. Because of its frequent use and maintenance, it’s very important to invest in a natural and good quality rug, that will last and patina over the years, only gaining in beauty with age and use.”

    A neutral handwoven rug creates a tactile base for this living space designed by Nathalie Deboel Interior Design, reflecting the woollen Dapple – Sand rug by Hali.

    Guillaume Alan

    Paris and London based studio Guillaume Alan focus on arousing emotion in a space. This approach is influenced by famed Mexican architect Luis Ramiro Barragán Morfín’s quote: “Any work of architecture which does not express serenity is a mistake.” They describe their interiors as imbued with serenity and calm and governed by restraint, with elements that are opulent in spirit. “Light is also key to our design ethos; light makes architecture,” studio director Guillaume says. “It’s thanks to light that walls, space and shadows can exist.”

    A passion for detail and craftsmanship ensures Guillaume Alan’s living spaces are tactile and luxurious, combining fine woods such as ash or oak in brushed finishes, marble, brass, natural linen, soft leather, silk, wool and bronze. “I think there is a palpable purity to our projects,” Guillaume says. “They express a space’s poetry; a concept of rigorous aesthetics that emphasise the beauty of the materials,” he says. 

    Guillaume designs living spaces as havens of peace. “Living rooms, as the heart of a house are pure, flawless and harmonious,” he says. Here, strong lines and pure proportions are always balanced with softness. “This softness happens with the curved lines of our furniture but also by rugs,” Guillaume says. “They bring a very tactile approach to the space; a very sensitive feeling involving sight, touch but also hearing – as a feeling of silence.” When selecting a rug, they believe in authenticity and the quest for ‘less but better’ pieces, in a move that skews far away from trends. 

    Discover quality rugs from Hali for the living room in the est Product Library here.

    Guillaume Alan create depth in the living room by contrasting light and dark tones

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