"So, how does this interior design assistance work?”. I do love a straightforward question! I get asked this a lot in many different ways but the above is probably the most direct enquiry I’ve had so far. So, this month I discuss how I approach my work and what I love about my job, from the first meeting with a client to talk through ideas, to seeing the design process through to fruition. Hopefully this article will answer some of the questions I get asked on a regular basis.
Before writing this, a question popped up in my own head and I turned to Instagram to ask how people perceive interior designers. I am still considering the many and varied responses I received. On the whole, people still seem to assume that employing a designer is only for the rich, with the perception of a snobby, bossy primadonna,
who strides in to your home, declares it a disaster, announces that you need to change everything and purchase the new and often expensive trends, regardless of whether they have anything in common with who you are or not. There was a time when I felt this way about the industry and wondered where I fitted in amongst the lavish soft furnishings and crystal chandeliers.
I now know that there are all kinds of interior designers, however I can only speak for myself and my approach to design could not be more different from the above. Whatever the project, be it family home or commercial enterprise, a one-off consultation or a complete design, it’s about the customer and not about me. Of course, every designer has their own style, but there has to be room for manoeuvre when it comes to incorporating a customer’s tastes and needs into a design. The ability to adapt a concept is an essential skill. I love to meet people who are embarking on a creative endeavour, to listen to their dreams and plans; if I am to be any use at all I need to get to know and understand who they are and what is important to them. This saves time and money in the long run, and knowing what someone does or does not like helps me to make informed choices when working on a design.
There is fresh knowledge to be gained on every project; I will learn as much from my clients as they will from me along the way. It should be a mutually inspiring experience for all involved - from those initial ideas that develop into a reality, the design journey is as beneficial as the end result. Every person and project is different, everyone has something to bring to the table, and there is always another angle to design that I enjoy seeing through the eyes of others.
I believe every space should evoke a feeling and tell a story. A design must take into consideration its future occupants and their possessions; in a world where we need to reduce waste, reusing and restoring our belongings means they can confidently sit alongside the new purchases and decor. Some can go shopping and spend a fortune on jaw-dropping statement pieces, and I love to see what’s out there, but the challenge I revel in from day to day is to make the most of what we already have before adding anything else, especially if the customer is on a tight budget.
I find my home town of Bridport and its surrounding areas to be a very creative community. Some people need only a short consultation to pick my brains and bounce ideas off me before embarking on a decorating project by themselves – just as you might invest in a sample pot of paint before decorating a whole room. Others need more support to make the changes from start through to finish. I often find that people are dying to be bold but lack the confidence to go for it. I enjoy encouraging customers to trust their instincts and express their personalities within their homes whilst achieving some balance and harmony, as opposed to a car crash of colour, texture and pattern. At times I have the challenge of keeping the peace and managing the relationships within the household. Marriage counselling can sometimes come into the equation if a couple have conflicting tastes; achieving a design that pleases all and doesn’t end in divorce is always a plus.
Most important of all, I love to help others who feel their talents lie elsewhere but still want a cosy, stylish habitat to relax in at the end of a busy day. I am humbled by their trust in me and returning to the places I have had a part in creating, hearing how they are enjoyed by others, makes me feel very fortunate to be doing what I do.
Published in the April 2019 edition of Bridport Times magazine: bridporttimes.co.uk