Wild Conversations with Award-Winning Interior Designer Octavia Dickinson

Octavia Dickinson

For this month’s edition of Wild Conversations, we meet House & Garden Top 100 interior designer, Octavia Dickinson.

Albie Sofa - Interior design by Octavia Dickinson

What inspired you to become an interior designer?

I actually fell into the career by accident. However, with hindsight, the hours spent discussing fabrics and other people’s houses with my aunt and mother, and the fact that I spent the majority of my childhood decorating my bedroom as opposed to doing anything else, was probably a sign I was meant to be an interior decorator. I grew up surrounded by things; my father is a great collector, and we were always encouraged to discuss what we saw, be it objects, works of art, furniture, architecture, even the fabric and style of curtains.

What’s the best interior design advice you’ve ever received or heard?

Nancy Lancaster (owner of Colefax & Fowler) said numerous things that resonated with me, but the one that really has stuck is, “Scale is of prime importance, and I think that oversized scale is better than undersized scale.”

What’s the worst interior design advice you’ve ever received or heard?

To paint everything white. I think that it’s a waste of money and time not to spend at least a little moment before you do any work to think what you would like. It’s like buying “cheap” furniture and curtains to bide you over, which so many people never get round to changing. I think it is better to use what you have, beg, borrow and steal to save those pennies to buy the most fabulous, jealous making curtains.

What are your top 3 Christmas decoration tips?

  • Red Bows. I like to buy lots of wide red ribbon and make bows and place these all round the house – on the tree, on top of paintings with a bit of holly, anywhere they will go.
  • Christmas can be a time of such waste, so I try and collect decorations I will use forever, and then fill in the gaps with foraged foliage. I go foraging for all types of green foliage, holly, ivy, and pretty leaves I can find, and I swathe them over anything that I can. Then I have a collection of fake berries that I slip in between and plump them up with some flowers. I buy plants I can put around the house, as hopefully they last a bit longer than flowers (depending on how green fingered one is) such as white cyclamen, poinsettia, narcissus bulbs in pots, and planted hyacinths.
  • For the table, again I like to keep it simple, lots of white, green and a bit of red. I copy my mother and put Church candles in small planter baskets, circle with green foliage and pop in some of my fake red berries. They look so pretty running down the centre of the table.

Bedroom - Interior design by Octavia DickinsonLiving Room - Interior design by Octavia Dickinson

Do you have any vices or guilty pleasures?

I would say my bath habit – I ideally like to have two a day. But my husband would say it is my penchant for watching terrible TV!

Who is your most difficult person to buy a gift for?

My husband. Mainly as I find most of things he wants quite boring. So I add a few things that I want which I think he will like.

Tell us when you last popped a cork?

Last weekend. I think you can always find something worth celebrating even if it is just getting through the week. But last week we had something more than normal to celebrate as we won an award for our new fabric Albie, which was very exciting and felt like a really achievement.

Octavia’s new wallpaper collection launches on 14th November 2023. For more information follow her on Instagram @Octaviadickinson.

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