I was recently lucky enough to be given the opportunity to interview the lovely Sarah Massouh, owner of Willow and Hall. I had been aware of their wonderful sofas and sofa beds for a little while due to the post on Tigerlillyquinn’s blog and I loved the designs instantly. At the time I hadn’t realised that their products are made in the UK and that their sofa beds also include a wonderfully luxurious mattress (with an affordable price tag.)
Want to know more? Carry on reading to get the full low down on Willow and Hall including which 5 products Sarah has in her own home. (A true sign of believing in your brand I hope you’ll agree.)
Q: What made you want to start Willow and Hall?
A: My passion for British furniture/interior design and my frustration with the lack of availability of high quality British furniture at more affordable prices resulted in me setting up Willow and Hall in 2012. The creation of the business and what is still central to everything we do today is to design British furniture which looks beautiful and is stylish whilst also being really high quality and comfy. I wanted to provide all of this for our customers at fantastic value and combined with a high quality and personal service.
Q: In a crowded market place, what do you think makes Willow and Hall unique?
A: We believe the success to date of Willow and Hall is down to a number of factors: Firstly we are able to offer our furniture at much lower prices than the high street and even our online competitors as we focus entirely on the products removing the need to pass on other costs to customers such as shops and warehousing costs. We are also able to offer our customers a custom range of options (they can choose from over 70 fabrics and leathers; choose their seat fillings; and the sofa beds all come with a choice of three different mattresses); delivery is speedy (3-4 weeks for all items); the materials are of very high quality (all hand-picked ourselves); and a fantastic amount of British craftsmanship goes into every single item. All this is combined with a passion for providing excellent customer service (we’ve just been awarded a Gold Trusted Merchant award by the independent feedback service FEEFO).
Q Which products do you have in your own home?
A: I have five products in my home – I can’t squeeze any more in with our older furniture at present! We have a sofa bed in our living room (the Elmley) for when our family and friends come to stay as we are a very sociable family so wanted a super comfy sleeping option without compromising on the style and comfort. We then have an Apply 1 seater in the corner of our study. This gets used more as a sofa for people to come in and sit on and have a natter when I am working too late but it is also nice to know it can be pulled out into a bed if we should need it. Finally all three of our beds in our bedrooms have our mattresses. They are quite simply the most comfortable mattresses my husband and I have ever slept on – guests say the same too. I could not imagine having any other mattresses in our house. I can’t wait to bring our bed range out so that more customers will be compelled to purchase these beautiful mattresses.
Q: What influences your product designs?
A: It’s absolutely about designing furniture which looks beautiful and is stylish whilst also being really high quality and comfy. Once we’ve achieved this we work extremely hard to make sure all the smaller details are just right for that particular model from the feet shape to the piping and zips. All the “ingredients” must always be of the highest quality and used in the right way by incredibly skilled craftsmen in Wiltshire.
Q: Which designs and fabrics would you recommend for young families?
A: Firstly I would advise families to carefully consider how they will be using the room the furniture is going in. Young families are often very busy and require multiple uses for rooms such as using a living room as a TV room, play room and social space. I would therefore recommend that they pick a design which size does not over-power the room/ fits neatly into the space taking into account its uses. A sofa should always fit around a family and their lifestyle not the other way around.
Secondly, I would recommend picking a fairly neutral fabric so that it fits with changing family decors but that is not too light so that it shows up a multitude of sins which are inevitable with a young family. Greys are a good choice as they are still relatively neutral yet dark enough to not show up every mark. Other fabrics which work well are patterned/ striped fabrics or two-toned fabrics such as out Textured Linen. You can always add further colour/ lighter colours through cushions and throws – a far safer way to bring these colours into your furniture. Also consider the functionality of the fabric – this is just as key as aesthetics here. Find out what the rub counts and cleaning instructions are for the fabrics to get an idea of their durability and practicality. As a rule, synthetic fabrics are more durable, colourfast and cleanable. Tightly woven fabrics and fabrics that are heavy will stand up to wear and tear better, as will leather.
Q: Would you like to expand the business into other areas?
A: Absolutely! We want to be able to offer great quality and affordable British furniture to even more customers and to more parts of their homes. With this in mind we will be introducing new sofa/ sofa bed 2 and 3 seater designs as well as some stunning new sofa/ sofa bed corner units in March this year. We will also be introducing a beautiful range of footstools and blanket boxes to perfectly complement our furniture in early Summer as well as a completely new bed range to accompany our hand-made bed mattresses.
Q: I understand you’re opening a show room in Surrey, what made you want to branch out from the online world?
A: The opening of our first showroom will give customers the chance to view our lovely products before they purchase without us having to compromise on the value we offer. We believe this provides our customers with an even better service over and above our 100% free returns policy that we currently offer. We will never open up shops or a large range of showrooms as we don’t want to pass these costs onto our customers however opening up one showroom does give this option to those nervous to purchase entirely online.
So a big thank you to Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions so thoroughly, I thought her ideas on family friendly options were especially useful and I can’t wait to head to the showroom for a nose. My personal favourite is the rather stunning Dunsmore Sofa Bed which I’ve been showing my husband suggestively all day. I think it would make a gorgeous addition to a nautical themed living room or an art deco bedroom and the leather makes it very practical and long lasting.
- Disclosure: Post written in collaboration with Willow and Hall, all words and opinions my own unless otherwise stated.