Nadia Olive Schnack is a prominent interior designer whose distinctive take on color, prints and patterns creates uniquely beautiful and intriguing interiors. We met Nadia at her studio in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, to get her input on how to pick out the ideal sofa for your home.
Nadia Olive Schnack, interior designer
THE HISTORY OF THE SOFA
When asked about the significance of the sofa in our homes, Nadia first looks at it from a historical perspective: “The sofa really is a piece of furniture that has evolved over time. In the past, it was a very formal article of furniture, only found in upper class homes. Today, as we all know, the sofa is a staple in all homes.” As the way we live changes, so does our use of the sofa. Today, Nadia sees the sofa as the primary spot where we relax and unwind. A place where we gather, family and friends, to truly rest and recharge.
Although the sofa has evolved into being of great significance in most households, Nadia explains that finding the perfect sofa can be a challenging task, as it can easily become too domineering due to its size. Like a puzzle, Nadia believes that the sofa must fit in with the other pieces of your home, creating the perfect atmosphere and energy.
“Some people call my style brave. To me, it’s not about decorating or making a room more beautiful. It is about creating a space where people can live comfortably; a space that enriches the life of the people that inhabit it.”
PLAYING WITH COLOR
Nadia is renowned for her talent in curating patterns, antiques, contemporary design and, perhaps most notably, her approach to color. Playing with bold and unexpected colors to achieve a coherent and harmonious space is something of a trademark for Nadia’s studio. It is therefore not surprising that she emphasizes color choice is an important element in finding the right sofa: “In my experience, you have to rely on your intuition when it comes to experimenting with color in a space”. If you’ve chosen a large sofa that dominates a room, she suggests choosing a neutral color that does not disrupt the space. This gives you the opportunity to be more playful with other elements in the room – for example with wallpaper, lighting, rugs and accessories. Neutral, however, doesn’t necessarily have to mean white or grey.
“The color white can actually be quite loud in a space,” she explains, “It can be a little harsh. It all depends on the sofa’s surroundings. An unexpected color can be neutral depending on the conversation it’s having with the rest of the room. It’s about creating a moment of calm.”
That atmosphere of calm may even come in the shape of a pattern. Nadia emphasizes that some patterns, like a white and black stripe, are key to creating a moment of rest when you’re working with prints and bold colors. “Having said that, all that goes out the window once you’ve fallen in love with a specific pattern. Our taste and what we like is rooted in emotion, it’s irrational – just as it should be – it’s love! In this case, you should follow your instincts as opposed to playing it safe. You very rarely regret an interior choice when it was based on love.” When choosing a larger piece of furniture with a print, Nadia emphasizes that it’s important to include additional, contrasting patterns in the space as well. A sole pattern may feel harsh and domineering in an otherwise monochrome space, whereas other prints will work to soften and balance it.
Nadia's Top Tips
Follow your intuition.
There is a reason why you initially get an idea – see it through, and you will most likely not regret it.
Balance is key.
Decide which expression you wish your room to have – tranquillity or creativity and inspiration. Try different things to find the perfect balance between the feminine and masculine.
A sense of depth.
You don’t want your space to be flat. Employ a sense of depth by contrasting colors, materials and textiles.
It’s okay to follow trends you love, but when investing in a big piece of furniture, make sure it’s one you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Have some humor.
Interior design does not have to be so serious! You don’t always have to play it safe - pick pieces that bring you joy and make you smile on a daily basis.
INVEST IN A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP
When it comes to investing in a new sofa, Nadia emphasizes the importance of thinking long-term by reflecting on the subjective needs of both you and your space. Ideally, it should be a piece that will be with you for many years to come – perhaps even the rest of your life. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take both the emotional and the practical into account: Do you have children or pets? Does it speak to your intuition and personal taste? Are you living in your forever home or is there a chance you (and your sofa) will move in the foreseeable future? Do you think you’ll love it after living together for a decade? “My taste is timeless because I don’t work with what’s trendy or in style. I seek balance, independently of what other people think and do, by reflecting on purpose, layout, architecture, furniture and materials”.
A SENSE OF BALANCE
Lastly, to find the perfect sofa for your space, Nadia recommends that you invest time in creating balance. Different materials can contribute to the atmosphere of a space, and it is therefore important to reflect on these when choosing a sofa. “In any room, it’s important to incorporate elements of tactility in order to create depth and contrast,” Nadia explains. “Whether it comes to choice of color, shape or material, it’s all about striking a balance. It’s up to you to decide what you want your space to do for you. Do you want to open the door and feel calm, or do you want to be inspired? Let that decision lead you while you are making your design choices.”