Her luxe homeware store is all about simple, upscale style – but Amara founder Sam Hood struggles to keep her own home decluttered
Sam and her husband Andrew opened an interiors store in Chelmsford, Essex, in 2005, and quickly moved online. Amara.com made high-end brands such as Missoni Home and Ralph Lauren available nationwide, and now has its own-brand range too.
Are you an emotional decorator?
I suppose I am a really emotional person when it comes to decorating my home. I decorate with my heart. Everything in my house has a story behind it, or reminds me of something or a place I’ve been. The downside is I find it hard to get rid of anything!
Can you give us an example of a particularly sentimental item?
We have a special chair for my mum. She bought a rocking chair by the British designer William Plunkett and we store it for her in our shed for about 15 years, by which time it had fallen apart! So I had it renovated and covered in gold leather as a surprise. I revealed it to her on Christmas Day. It’s her chair when she comes to visit.
How would you describe your decorating style?
There’s a real mix of things in my house – we have a grand piano and an Aga alongside Missoni rugs and leopard-print cushions. There are some thing that you could say are really classic and traditional and other things that I just love that fit in, regardless of style.
How would you say your decorating style has developed over the years?
I think your taste changes as your grow older. Your influences develop. Sometimes when I look back 10 years I feel like ‘Wow, what on earth was I thinking when I decorated that room?!’. But at the time, I loved it. I’ve gone from a house where every window had swags and tails in traditional patterns to what my house looks like now. Everything is plain, simple and neutral.
What colours do you use in your home?
I use lots of black. Black sofas, in particular. My home is neutral with pops of colour from accessories. All the walls are painted in Farrow & Ball paint. My daughter’s bedrooms are quite colourful in contrast with the rest of the house. Both feature really dramatic Cole & Son wallpaper.
How often do you redecorate?
We don’t redecorate much, but I’m always moving cushions and throws around, or adding new ones here and there. How many cushions can I cram onto the bed, for instance? Which Andrew never understands!
I remember my daughter’s school teacher once asked the class what their parents did for a living. The other kids were answering with things like ‘My dad’s a lawyer!’ or ‘My mum’s a nurse!’. When it came to Molly’s turn she said ‘My mum and dad post cushions to people.’ She was four when we started Amara, so she’s never known anything different her entire life. The girls are very much part of the business.
If you’ve learned one thing from decorating your home, what would it be?
Always invest in a good sofa, bed and kitchen table. These are the areas where you spend all of your time. If you choose a style well, then it should last you for years.
How did you decide on the company’s name?
When Andrew and I first started Amara, we struggled at first to find the right name for it. The shop was in Chelmsford, which is an old Roman town. We took the Latin name for a vaulted ceiling, which is Camara, but we didn’t like the ‘C’ so we took it off and we were left with Amara. It’s easy to spell and you’re always at the top of everyone’s list!
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