An unconventional approach: Timothy Oulton

Interior design’s enfant terrible Timothy Oulton on his passion for creative design and reimagining old classics

Art and Design 17 Sep 2019

The Bluebird flagship is more than just a showroom space
Interior designer Timothy Oulton relaxes on a Chesterfield
A life-size replica of the Apollo space capsule designed by the studio

They say you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes, but there’s also a lot to be said about his sofa. The sofa, after all, is the epicentre of the home; the place you relax at the end of the day and where guests gather around post dinner party to swap stories until the small hours. And few sofas carry such inherent gravitas as the Chesterfield. Instantly recognisable and enduringly iconic, the Chesterfield epitomises elegance and fine craftsmanship. The design was first commissioned in the early 1700s by the trendsetting fourth Earl of Chesterfield who wanted a fine leather settee with quilted leather upholstery, button detailing and low seat base: the blueprint for the beloved model seen today.

‘I’ve always loved Chesterfields, they have this innate sense of class and character,’ says interior designer Timothy Oulton. ‘They’re just as relevant today as they were 100 years ago because they tell a story, and they also have this ability to blend with any style of interior. There’s something incredibly special and alluring about that.’

Oulton has built a reputation in the interiors world for his unconventional approach to designs that merge edge with elegance. The designer’s passion for craftsmanship and unique cherished pieces began when he worked in his father’s antiques shop. After learning the ropes in architectural salvage and furniture design, Oulton set up his eponymous business in Los Angeles in 2008, and has since launched more than 40 galleries worldwide, including last year’s opening at Bluebird Chelsea on the King’s Road.

Timothy Oulton specialises in unique, hand-crafted furniture, lighting and accessories, and offers five signature collections, each with their own aesthetic and appeal. Every piece carries the same hallmarks of quality design inspired by the past, ‘reconceived from a modern perspective’.

The Timothy Oulton Westminster perfectly encapsulates this ethos as an object of fine craftsmanship, innovative, luxury materials and quintessential British design. In his early days working in the antiques trade, Oulton would restore old sofas, which today he takes to a new level with a range of different styles and hand-finishes. Each sofa is made with the same specialist techniques and skills refined centuries ago, including scoring, scratching and even burning the leather to produce a rich, beautifully burnished texture. Available in four- and six-seater models, the Westminster adheres to the classic aesthetic with stud detailing and rolled arms at the same height as the back.

Oulton’s designs are slightly deeper than standard models for optimum comfort and in the leather models the hide is treated repeatedly to create a butter-soft finish that wears beautifully with age and use. Other variations include the plush Revival Velvet in jewel tones and the limited-edition Westminster Button in Ronin Indigo, a statement sofa exclusive to Bluebird and made with 100% natural indigo-dyed leather and finished with 1,550 hand-applied silver studs.

The Bluebird worldwide flagship, which celebrates its first birthday this September, is a 7,200 sq ft space that showcases Oulton’s signature collections in all their glory alongside one-of-a-kind antiques and special commissions. The designer felt a special connection to Bluebird, a former Art Deco garage, and west London’s iconic King’s Road, thanks to its punk-rock roots as the former hangout of Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood and Sid Vicious.

‘Chelsea has such a rich heritage of art, culture and design,’ says Oulton. ‘When the opportunity at Bluebird came up, we knew it was the perfect place. Inviting people into our home has always been at the core of our ethos, so we’re passionate that the gallery at Bluebird shows our home at its absolute best, and is not only a great furniture destination but also a place to host and connect with people.’

Experience is at the heart of Timothy Oulton. Whether you’re looking to revamp your entire home or simply have a browse, the gallery is designed as an inspiring and immersive space.

‘Our aim is to create an experience that deeply touches people. The stores, the furniture, our hospitality projects: everything is a vehicle for delivering a visceral experience. I want people to visit Bluebird and feel what we do. They don’t even have to buy anything; they just need to feel something.’

To celebrate its first birthday, Timothy Oulton will host a series of events at the Bluebird gallery, including an exclusive private dinner for VIP guests. For more information, contact or visit