Meet the woman who started the green velvet sofa trend – with her first ever Instagram post

Nicola’s green sofa started this year’s biggest interior design trend (Picture:

Nicola Broughton is at home and mulling over the importance of good furniture.

‘Yes,’ she says finally. ‘A sofa really can change your life.’ But it’s not just any old sofa – it’s Nicola’s green sofa.

The one she uploaded a photo of as her first post on Instagram, only for it to be liked by maximalist interior design icon Abigail Ahern, then dozens of other people.

Then there were messages from new, inspired followers who had also ordered that green sofa, from, or similar – Nicola had kicked off a green sofa trend without even realising.

‘OK,’ she says. ‘Maybe I didn’t kick off the whole green sofa trend, but people were following me and buying green sofas.’

Nicola started restyling her Victorian home as a way to destress (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)
The famous green sofa (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)

Nicola, who is a businesswoman and scientist working with cancer treatments by day, had started off restyling her six-bed Victorian terrace home as a way of destressing and creating the perfect environment to get away from the everyday.

As she uploaded more pictures of the meticulously crafted interiors, dotted with collectables and oozing a unique Downton Abbey-meets-Soho House vibe, she realised people weren’t just interested in her sofa.

Her whole beautifully and meticulously created home in a village just outside Leeds was gathering a lot of attention.

It is filled with antique finds, upcycled furniture and brave colours, not to mention bold DIY first tries that Nicola had no idea would work.

Nowadays, she has her own blog, queues of people wanting to interview her and photograph her house, her own home-styling business on the side of her day job, and 124,000 Instagram followers on her The Girl With The Green Sofa account.

(Picture: Heidi Marfitt)
The incredible stained glass front door (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)

Walk in through the front door, with its beautiful original stained glass window and antique cinema seats, complemented by Lucy Tiffney wallpaper and an old Laura Ashley chandelier from eBay, and you know you are in for something special.

Into the living room, it becomes evident that to call the house just eclectic is to do it a disservice. There is a cacophony of well-judged, quirky pieces, all somehow playing the same tune.

‘We bought the house in 2004,’ she explains. ‘It had such a lovely feel to it, with original wood panelling, coving and marble fireplaces – all that stuff – and I knew immediately it was love at first sight. But I wanted to put my own stamp on it – everything was cream with a blue carpet – as I want my house to feel cosy and welcoming.

‘I used to travel three or four days a week and come back from a white hotel room and come back home. I decorate emotionally. It’s about the feel more than the look and all the pieces have a story.’

Nicola loves a quirky statement piece (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)
He kooky home is a reflection of her creativity (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)

As Nicola points out, no room in the house is white. The busy Sandberg wallpaper in the living room would make your average Bauhaus enthusiast spit out their turmeric latte, while the Imola chair would meet the approval of any Scandi nut.

Vintage wooden spools, which Nicola collects, are shrouded under glass domes like Victorian taxidermy and the coffee table? That’s from Marks & Spencer.

‘I find what I like, and that’s often vintage, and then I find a place to put it,’ she says. ‘I like a relaxing environment. My home is a place to switch off and go into a different world. But the house is also a hobby, it’s creative.’

Nicola certainly got creative in the kitchen, too. Once cream, she set about the kitchen with a paint brush and toolbox. The whole room is cleverly upcycled from what was originally there. The open shelves on the walls, a great place to put more interesting niknaks, were originally cupboards.

Existing cabinets were treated to new handles and painted in teal and dark blue by Lick paints with Art Deco-style Parisian Globes from Pure White Lines.

The M&S coffee table fits in perfectly (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)
Of course her kitchen is amazing too (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)

The grooved panelling on the end of the worktop was Nicola’s own idea, bought from a local hardware store, bolted on and painted.

The shutters were bought from eBay and cut down to size and painted, while Ca’ Pietra tiles add a splash of colour.

‘I’m not shy about getting a drill out or a saw out,’ she says, ‘I quite enjoy it.’ Inspiration can come from anywhere or, as is often the case, just from inside her head.

‘Sometimes I see things, sometimes I just try things, and see what happens. It takes a bit of practice. I really wanted terracotta for the walls.

‘I chose the colour without testing. In the bright of the room, it looked lurid orange. I just had to live with it for about three years. I think you get used to it with anything in the house.’

One of the standout rooms is the upstairs bathroom. The spectacular £3,780 copper boat bath from BC Designs was much like the green sofa downstairs, in that it came first and set the tone for the whole room.

Nicola spent a long time deciding what colour to paint the panelling – that she had knocked up herself from MDF for 70 quid, obviously – so that it would complement the copper.

The stunning copper bathtub (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)
Vintage details (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)
Luxe headboard (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)

She settled on Invisible Green paint from Little Greene, which really made the metal pop. Again, in this room are Ca’ Pietra tiles and the oil painting was sourced from eBay.

The bedrooms are equally confident. In the green guest bedroom is a red bed. ‘Normally you would think that they wouldn’t go but sometimes it takes being brave to get it right. What’s the worst that can happen if it goes wrong? Go for it – that’s my advice. If I don’t like a colour I just paint over it.

‘I’ve made some awful colour mistakes but that’s the trial and error, but I know from those mistakes who I am and what I want.’

The main bedroom is north-facing and Nicola struggled with it for a long time before embracing a darker colour, covering the panelling in Chimney Brick from Little Greene, which goes well with the ochre bed by

The cool chest of drawers next to the bed is an old vintage piece that Nicola applied cane webbing to. The House Of Hackney fringed lampshade adds to the dusty glam effect.

The bohemian vibe continues outside (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)
It’s a real secret garden (Picture: Heidi Marfitt)

The garden is as much of a hideaway as the rest of the house.

At the back she created raised beds with railway sleepers and planted them with Japanese acers, hydrangeas and shrubs. Recently she painted these black and the fence surrounding the property.

The garden furniture is from and Argos and the idea was to create an outdoor living room to relax in on a sunny evening.

‘When we first moved in there was no garden, just flags to front and back. The garden isn’t big – it was our compromise. However, it is perfectly adequate for our needs and we have a park at the end of the street that has all the amenities for the kids.’

Nicola says that she would have moved house a long time ago but by constantly changing her property she has never grown tired of it.

‘It’s colourful and eclectic and vintage, but maximalist, too. It’s a mixture and filled with everything that I love. That is what makes my home my home.’

And as for the green sofa – would she ever get rid of it? ‘Well, it may get worn out one day – but I’d probably buy another one.’

Follow Nicola on Instagram @the_girl_with_the_green_sofa or check out

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