On Interior Design
My career background is half teaching and half property. But I was always drawn more to the property work, as I was fascinated by people’s homes. I worked in sales for high-end residential property companies, but the marketing side suited me better – designing property brochures and writing articles for press features allowed me to look at people’s homes in a creative and non-competitive way. However, I always knew I wanted to work for myself. I have quite an entrepreneurial spirit, but it’s taken me nearly 40 years to find something that’s stuck.
My style is best described as timeless and considered. As a design studio, we value simplicity as well as the power of pattern. While we focus on an elegant sophistication, we often introduce an element of playfulness to give our spaces that ‘Alice Grace’ touch. Every client has unique requirements, so we always take the time to uncover their aesthetic and functional needs. As a design firm, you’re hired for your approach, but you must reinterpret this to reflect your client and give them their money’s worth. It isn’t about reinventing the wheel every time but is about drawing fresh inspiration and giving them something special.
I love warm, muted, earthy tones with touches of blue. In the past I’ve worked with a lot of newbuild homes and we’re currently working on a self-build project for a client that will come alive with the right colours. They don’t need to be bright, but I find comfort in browns, reds, greens – all of which work well with warm, natural oak, which we used in our own homeware collection. As for fabrics, I will often ground a room with rich velvet upholstery or soft furnishings. I love it contrasted with a lightly patterned linen or embroidered cotton.
When it comes to pattern, try to choose one larger-scale pattern, some grounding plainer patterns that perhaps introduce different textures like a bouclé, and then perhaps a few smaller-scale patterned pieces and a stripe. You don’t want to have too many things going on that are fighting for attention. One of our most recognised rooms is a bedroom which illustrates this well – a larger-scale, relatively busy paper, a grounding velvet headboard and then a nice mix of bespoke-made soft furnishings alongside a pop of blue in the bed throw and lampshade.
Our success on Instagram was one of those happy coincidences. It was never planned – it just came about from sharing aspects of my everyday life and home with a community of others who liked doing the same. After having my son, I was at home a lot and really wanted to uncover something for myself that incorporated a lot of my passions – art, photography and styling. It was a perfect combination. When brands started reaching out, it gathered momentum and I could see a way of making money without having to go back to an office.
While social media opens doors, nothing lasts. You must be prepared to adapt and change your business plan to move with the times. When I started, photography was king – people grew and supported each other by sharing aspirational but perhaps unrealistic images. Now, the social media landscape is very different – it’s fast paced, competitive and very difficult for businesses to keep up with the continual thirst for new content. I’ve learnt that a smaller, supportive and engaged audience is what you need to focus on. Success is not all about the numbers – so I try not to get caught up in that.
It's hard to come up with new content all the time. Even more so when it’s your own home. On the one hand, you must constantly reimagine your space but it’s also a great opportunity to try out new ideas. You aren’t creatively restricted like you are when you’re working for a client.
For anyone starting an interiors account now, branding and personal style are two extremely important factors to establish early on. That way, visitors to your page know immediately what they’re getting. With all the competition out there, you need to have your own identity. It’s about providing content your audience wants to see, rather than focusing on what you want your audience to see. There’s quite a difference.
During lockdown, our community got me through some really difficult times. They really gave me the confidence to start a design business and find my voice. Joining The Expert as an international designer was only made possible through these connections.
On Her Collection
I’ve wanted to create my own products for a while. It’s felt like a natural step after working as a designer – when you’re sourcing, you become acutely aware of what’s missing in the market or difficult to get a hold of. I also have this inherent creative urge that’s best channelled into something I really believe in and will last.
The collection was inspired by an antique mirror I inherited from my grandmother. The piece had a beautiful warm oak finish and soft curved details which added a gentle softness to the frame. Within our own collection, these curves can be seen along the height of The Tray, as well as the front and sides of both The Bedside and The Nightstand. The reeded detail adds a modern, textured element too.
We wanted to work with a local and well-respected furniture and joinery company. That way we could ensure the collection was top quality. Bath Bespoke is based just up the road from our offices so it was the perfect match. Our mutual belief in sustainability and the importance of investing in heritage pieces made on British soil also really aligned. I knew the items would translate well in people's homes, whatever their style. I also really understood these pieces needed to stand the test of time and be worth the initial investment. We want them to be passed down through the generations to become true heirlooms. Our next collection will launch this summer and will include some upholstery pieces which will allow customers the opportunity to bring some of our favourite fabrics into their own homes.