Blossom from The Way We Live London is one of a selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
Running a coworking space in Totnes, Devon for female entrepreneurs means that I come in constant contact with a range of inspiring women launching and running their own businesses. The past year has proven to be a massive challenge for most businesses but women have undoubtedly been adversely affected by the global pandemic. According to data from the Office of National Statistics, unemployment levels for women increased by 28% and redundancy levels rose by 212% from January-March 2020 to October-December 2020. Many women have suffered job losses and have therefore had to consider entrepreneurship out of necessity.
I love hearing the stories that these strong women tell about how they have had to reinvent themselves, often throwing themselves into completely new ventures in response to the pandemic. One such story is that of Sarah Horner-Sigré, founder and owner of The Way We Live London, a small family business that sells a unique selection of unusual handmade bathroom sinks and vanities.
Blossom from The Way We Live London is one of a selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
Can you please tell us a little about your background?
I grew up in Pinner, in northwest London. After school, I decided that further education wasn’t for me so I went into the working world quite early. I had a natural knack for organising parties for friends and family. So I was encouraged to try my hand at party planning.
I’d neither heard of, nor considered the events industry from a career perspective. When I stumbled upon it, I knew it was going to be the perfect fit for me. I had to prove myself by acing a work experience placement. But all I needed was a logistical brain, plenty of creativity and a natural ability to create a fun, exciting and engaging journey.
I started out in an incredible agency where I learnt my trade. I was working all across the world producing luxury, high-profile design-led events from film premieres to lavish weddings. With a few years’ experience under my belt, I soon went freelance. I enjoyed a successful career for almost 20 years until the pandemic struck. All my work fell off a cliff overnight.
By that point though, I was already keen for a change of career. I had been thinking about what else I would love to do that would harness my natural strengths and spark the passion I’d had in my early event days. The pandemic was tough, but it was the push I needed to start The Way We Live London.
Alfie & Christopher from The Way We Live London are from the selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
When did you first become interested in interiors?
My earliest memory of design is probably around the age of ten. My mum had agreed to redecorate my bedroom and to took me to a local big name hardware store to pick out wallpaper and paints. After bringing home lots of samples, I settled on a lilac and silver colour scheme with a swirly motif.
It was definitely a 90’s design fail, but I distinctly remember the evening the room was finished. When I turned on my new bedside lamp, the way my new room made me feel was pure magic. I think I must have realised then that how a room is designed and lit can make a huge difference to how you feel. I had a new sense of pride and actually started tidying my room without being prompted!
Although my mum and I have very different styles, I picked things up like zoning, using different patterns and textures and the importance of ambient mood lighting from her. Once I’d moved out of home, I relished the challenge and freedom to express my interior style in multiple rooms. Pre-kids, I would spend my weekends scouring Portobello Market and clearance shops for unique furniture and objects.
Autumn from The Way We Live London is one of a selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
Can you describe your personal design style?
I tend to naturally veer towards an eclectic, but not cluttered look with vintage and natural rustic pieces highlighted by a smidge of luxe detail. Some of the spaces in my home have wonderful Edwardian features so I also like to consider the bones of a space.
I usually start with vintage furniture, found objects and affordable art and I build around them. Our house is filled with second-hand furniture that I have bought over the years. In fact, I can only pinpoint the beds and sofas as having been bought new (and even the sofas, at this point, could be classed as vintage!)
Delilah from The Way We Live London is one of a selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
I don’t tend to follow trends or prescribe to any design period in particular. I just have to really love anything I buy. I’m a texture lover and mix natural tufted fabrics with ethnic woven cushions and throws in neutral colours. I then layer these with more intricate or colourful ceramics and accessories. There always has to be a subtle element of playfulness.
My go-to colours are black, white and earthy tones, with green and blue accents and a heavy dollop of natural wood. I try not to force a space into completion too quickly, however tempting it may be. It takes time to find things that you really do love. I feel a space is most inviting with a depth and warmth when it is not too ‘done’ and has been curated over time, reflecting the personality of those who live there.
I use my intuition when thinking about a layout. This probably comes from my background in events and floor planning spaces to encourage a natural flow and areas of discovery.
Claudia from The Way We Live London is one of a selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
What prompted you to launch The Way We Live London?
It all started when we renovated our house in 2019. I have to love everything I buy so standard white bathroom basins were never going to do it for me. An interesting, playful, statement basin that I could squeeze into my ever-decreasing budget was what I was looking for. I really struggled to find anything that fitted the brief and spent days on the hunt.
Finally, I stumbled across an artisan producer who had a stunning design. It was then that the seed of an idea was sown. But we were in the throes of a bathroom renovation with two children under three and a busy career. So it was some time before I could come back to the idea with proper focus. It had to be put on ice.
When the renovation was finished and the pandemic hit, I had time to take stock. It was a financially challenging time and a huge shock to lose all my work. But it felt like an opportunity to develop my idea and launch a business. There was little temptation to take the easy route and hold out for the events industry to recover. I think I have always gone with my gut and instinct so I just went for it!
The Way We Live London brand name and ethos came about as I considered my knowledge and my own personal experience that your environment can have a profound effect on your mood, productivity, clarity, creativity and individuality. All of this reflected my belief that it’s important to consider the way we live in our homes. And so, The Way We Live London was born.
Ferne & Helga from The Way We Live London are from the selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
How do you think the pandemic has affected the way we feel about our homes?
The pandemic has undoubtedly had a huge impact on how we feel about our homes. I think it has been especially hard for those that have not worked at home before. It has been a huge lifestyle shift. Most of us have had to adjust our spaces to accommodate sometimes multiple workstations or homeschooling. Everyone I was speaking to in the depths of lockdown was doing something to their home. Maybe it was as simple as buying new house plants, decluttering, reorganising, redecorating or planning a renovation or move.
The change of pace for many of us was a chance to take stock of our surroundings. We had the opportunity to re-think things and truly look at how we use our spaces to their maximum advantage. We asked ourselves how they could complement our unique family circumstances. As life starts to return to normal, we will have a new appreciation for the impact that our homes can have on us.
Gracie & Helene from The Way We Live London are from the selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
Can you tell us a little bit more about the bathroom sinks with vanities?
All our bathroom basins are handmade, produced from porcelain with fine particles of quartz to produce a product that has exceptional durability. They also go through multiple firing processes to further enhance their strength. Many use traditional artisan texturing techniques, some are hand-painted and some use the art of decalcomania.
The vanity units have been designed to complement the bathroom basins with form, functionality and storage in mind. Each one is handmade from English ash in a traditional joinery workshop. They have been handcrafting pieces for over fifty years. I already had an existing relationship with them and I knew the quality of their work. So it was a no-brainer to bring them on board when I launched the business.
Laurence & Mahri from The Way We Live London are from the selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
Your product range is very unique. How difficult was it to source the range?
We all have different ideas of what we consider beautiful and that is what makes us interesting. The idea was to curate a range that reflected the diversity and individuality of people’s personal design styles. So, in putting this together, I had to step out of my style shoes and try and wear the shoes of a range of people. The end result is eight collections, each with their own unique aesthetic but unified in their quality.
I wanted the range to be timeless too, so you’ll see bathroom basins inspired by the well-known Oriental and Blue & White designs. Others take reference from nature and some look quite vintage or rustic, with a beautiful tactile and natural texture. These are all elements that I believe will stand the test of time.
Evelyn from The Way We Live London is from the selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
Who is your ideal client?
I really value that we are all individual. I admire people’s ability and confidence to tap into their personal style and run with it. The products and brand I have created reflect that. I know that my client is someone who has a bit of confidence to have fun with design in their home. They are searching for something different, which reflects them and their unique sense of style. They take pride in their surroundings and are considered in each element of their home. Like me, they look for functionality, but also beauty in a product. Most importantly, they realise that bathroom basins don’t have to be boring.
Sienna from The Way We Live London is from the selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
What would you say are the main bathroom trends for 2021/22?
Embrace Your Style
This is one of our tag lines and I think it’s really relevant here. A bathroom needs to stand the test of time because it’s not a room we can change up regularly. I don’t tend to follow trends too much and I don’t expect anyone else to. I suppose this is a trend in itself, tapping into your own style and running with it.
We are moving away from thinking about a bathroom or cloakroom as a sterile, purely functional space. Not everything has to match. We are embracing braver, more eclectic, and playful styles. These are similar to those which we might apply in other parts of our homes.
Our bathrooms and cloakrooms are now seen as a chance to extend our creativity; maybe mixing patterns, bold prints or wallpapers, adding bright, patterned and coloured tiles. We don’t have to have matching hardware and can mix metallics, combining different colours and finishes. This means that every element can be something to be admired and treasured. Of course, countertop basins are also now a joyous feature as opposed to an overlooked element of a bathroom suite.
Mahri & Olive from The Way We Live London are from the selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
I also think we’ll continue to see more biophilic design principles coming into bathrooms. It’s been popular for a while, but I don’t see biophilic design going anywhere soon. It will undoubtedly have been given an extended life, in part due to the pandemic. The last year has shown us how devastatingly powerful nature is. But it has also how much we crave and appreciate connecting to the outside world. The wonderful effect lockdown had in the short term on the environment, shows us how intrinsically we are linked to it. We recognise the bathroom as a place of escapism and refuge, as well as self-care.
Spas have historically taken their design references from nature and there is good reason for that. Nature is scientifically proven to be the ultimate calming, stress-busting mood booster.
Tactile finishes like wood and natural stone instantly connect you with nature. Natural, earthy, green and blue colour pallets are calming and create a great base. Prints or patterns that feature wildlife, botanicals or natural forms like waves add interest without overwhelming a space.
Aromas are also key for stimulating the sense of wellbeing, whether it’s a diffuser, candle or even just a gorgeous handwash, made with essential oils.
Strategically placed mirrors help to maximize as much natural light as possible and connect a space to the great outdoors. And of course, if you can keep a couple of plants alive which are suitable for humid conditions, this will complete the look.
Willow & Wren from The Way We Live London are from the selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
What are your hopes for the future of The Way We Live London?
At the heart of the brand is our appreciation of our customers’ uniqueness and their daring to embrace it. So, I want to continue to ensure that as we grow and diversify the product range, this ethos remains at the heart of everything we do.
I’m currently on the lookout for designers and ceramicists that I can collaborate with. I want to create and launch new artisan print and pattern collections. There are lots of other ideas bubbling away too. I would like to extend my range beyond basins and vanity units to other homewares. But like the basins, these will have to tick my box of being truly unique. At the moment I’m exploring and will be more actively sourcing later this year.
Nyla from The Way We Live London is from the selection of beautiful bathroom sinks with vanities
So what do you think about these unique handmade bathroom basins and vanities? Do you agree with Sarah about being brave and creating a home that reflects your personal style? Let us know in the comments below.