The Times: Bricks & Mortar Series “Tastemakers”

No matter how old you get, or how long you’ve been working in an industry, it’s incredible flattering when someone recognises what you do. When you work for yourself in quite a solitary field, it’s heartening too, it makes you feel like what you do is valuable, somehow. That’s a hard thing for anyone who works within a profession to understand I think, as most moves throughout those careers are labelled, and upward, and recognised. So, thanks The Times, for asking me to contribute to your Tastemaker series, and for knocking a year off my age 😉

Expanded questions below, for anyone looking for more in depth top tips x

What is your biggest source of design inspiration? : My idea of fun is to scour salvage shows and reclamation yards. I advise clients not to get stuck in the repetitive and envy inducing rabbit warren of social media, but to look up and get out. Inspo is fine but it’s too easy these days to simply copy other people’s style.
Chintz or minimalism? Am I Laura Ashley or John Pawson? Neither, and both. I like clean lines and crisp finishes, softened with beautiful decorative touches. Let’s call it Mintz, and see if it takes off 😉
What is your design essential? Thinking back on twenty years of interior design, my staple is always a chunk of wood somewhere. Raw natural timber is warm, tactile, organic and sexy. It’s always my go to. 
Your favourite interior design “quick fix”? Hey, Mr Moregeous doesn’t doesn’t call me the wallpaper wizard for nothing. Paint is great but nothing changes the whole vibe of a room like fabulous wallpaper. I’m rather partial to sticking it on ceilings at the moment. 
Your prediction for the next big interior design trend? Trend klaxon. I see a fork with two main roads ahead. One road is for vibrancy lovers, it’s lined with arches, stripes, colour blocking and Miami vibes. The other road is for the more laid back, pure seventies, with earthy tones, terracottas, natural woods, luxurious organic finishes and textures. 
The design pitfall to avoid? Copying other people. This is a mistake every single time. What looks amazing in someone else’s house could well look bloomin’ awful in yours. Take the time to get to know your own core style before plunging into redecorating. 
If you could live in anyone’s house whose would it be and why? I only want to live in my house, with a kitchen, which is the next thing on the list. I’d be content with that. I do remember many years ago seeing Pierre Cardin’s Bubble House and realising houses could be anything you want them to be, as individual as you liked. I love the liberating nature of this notion, it rebels against everything ‘planning’ rules dictate.
When decorating what do you splurge on? I’m a complete sucker for expensive wallpapers and fabrics. You get what you pay for and expensive papers have a depth of colour pattern which is just not matched in the DIY sheds, plus the paper is weightier and easier to hang. Worth saving up or sacrificing a few nights out for, in my opinion. 
What do you save on? Ebay is just the best resource for home renovators, with bargains galore for the canny buyer. Know what you want, set up a search and an email alert for when it’s listed. I bought all our driveway blocks this way and saved us hundreds of pounds, and do it with luxury fabrics all the time to use them for cushions or footstools. I also buy a lot of second hand furniture and struggle to pass a charity warehouse. My dining table was £30 and I’m ever so proud of giving it a new life. 
The best piece of design advice you have ever received? A TV expert once told me never to be too personal in my renovations and interior design. I ignored the advice, followed my own path, and found my style. So it was the best advice I ever heard, because I made me really think about how & who I wanted to be. We should all do this when designing our own homes!
What is your favourite thing about your home? Coming back to it after travelling for work 🙂 That and the toasty underfloor heating, in a once freezing Edwardian house. No more onesies – yippee!

2 thoughts on “The Times: Bricks & Mortar Series “Tastemakers”

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  1. Hello. We live in East Sheen and had an extension built 12 years ago. It has never been how I thought it would look ultimately due to my naivety really. However my kitchen units are all splitting now and instead of just replacing them I would like to make some structural changes and add a downstairs loo and a utility area. I am rubbish at visualising anything and keep moving the kitchen around in my head to all areas in the room. Having just seen the trailer on tv for a programme whereby you can have plans drawn up and viewed by virtual reality I am wondering if you would know anyone in our area who could do this for me. Kind regards. Val Horton. (details hidden)

    1. Hi Val, thanks for getting in touch. Don’t beat yourself up about it, this happens to lots of people as layouts are so hard to get right. I will pop you an email early next week, Sian

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