Online interior design from a client's perspective
8 min read
Published 28 Mar 2020
With everything that’s happening at the moment, I’ve been thinking about how important it is for us to feel connected with each other. Acts of kindness and sharing are more important than ever, as is letting others know that we appreciate them. So, this month I wanted to share some really lovely feedback I’ve had from clients who have used my online design service. I’ll also explain a little about how the service works, and the experience my clients had whilst using it. I’m also hoping that thinking about fun and positive things like designing a home can bring a little cheer into everyone’s lives - something we all need right now.
So, on to my clients. These lovely people, Marc and Erika, live in London, so I couldn’t see them in person and offer them my usual design service. Instead, we worked together over Skype and email and I designed their rooms completely online. You might be thinking, ‘how can that work?’ Surely a designer needs to see a room before designing it? Well, here’s how we make it work - I ask the client to take photos and measurements, give me a little video tour of the room, and fill out a questionnaire. We then discuss their needs with me asking lots of questions until I’ve got a really good idea of what they are looking for. Then I can take all that info and produce the design just like I usually would.
This couple had just got married and moved into their first home, which is a really exciting time in their lives. Like lots of people, they had really been looking forward to ‘doing up’ their new home, and had lots of ideas and couldn’t wait to get started. But, once they did start trying to pull all those ideas together, they got a bit stuck (also like lots of people do). Over to Erika to explain the problem:
We moved into our house and had a “blank canvas” to work with. Being first time buyers we had no furniture and therefore could “go to town” with designing the space. However, once we started looking at furniture and items I quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of choice available. I also started to find items I liked but which didn’t necessarily complement other items I had previously found.
They decided they needed the help of a professional, and did some Googling to find a designer who offered online design and crucially, someone they felt they could work with.
The space wasn’t really turning into any kind of look, so we took a step back and enlisted the help of Louise to bring a cohesive style to our room, and help decide on items with us within our budget. We hired Louise as after initial conversations I could see she understood my ramblings and ultimately our vision for the room. Additionally I liked the fact that she saw my mood board and inspirations and ran with the ideas creating an individual space just for us.
As with any design project, the end result comes from a collaboration between the designer and the client, so it’s really important that the client feels that they can get on with the designer, and that the designer ‘gets them’. If you start making initial enquiries when looking for a designer and something just isn’t clicking - either your personalities are very different, or the designer doesn’t really seem to understand your style, then it’s perfectly fine to stop there and look for another designer. In fact I would encourage you to - afterall, this person will be working closely with you and will be changing something as deeply personal as your home, so you have to be able to trust them. Erika explains what the experience was like for her:
Working with Louise was great. She is friendly, personable, organised and creative. She kept in touch regularly and delivered results quickly. The balance was just right. She was available when things didn’t go to plan and she always had time for us.
So, we worked together and designed their open plan living/dining room, and they took the design and implemented it just like we had planned. Here are some before and after pics of the room (you can see that they really had just moved in and had no furniture!).
The client's living room just after they moved in
The client's living room which was fairly bare and uninviting
The client's newly designed living area, with the gallery wall
The new dining area
They even managed to get the gallery wall looking exactly as I had planned it, which is an achievement considering I couldn’t be there to tell them where to hang the pictures.
They were so happy with the finished room that a few months later they asked me to help with another room. They told me the fantastic news that they were expecting a baby, and wanted me to design the new nursery. I was very flattered and so happy for them, and couldn’t wait to get started. Here’s the brief they gave me:
We want something creative, welcoming, cosy, fun, playful, colourful. We would like a room that the baby can grow with so the design of the room will be suitable for a newborn up until the age of 6 or 7 years. Whilst looking on Pinterest, we struggled to find a lot of inspiration. There seems to be a theme for neutral-coloured nurseries with matching neutral wall art. We would like something that is more creative, colourful and original without being brash.
|They said that they wanted bright colours in the room, but didn’t mind which ones they were. They also wanted to use wallpaper or paint to create a focal point or feature in the room. After some discussion, we decided to go for a wallpaper mural, to add that focal point for the little one to look at. This turned out to be a bit of a headache (more on that later), but the end result was just what they were looking for.|
The nursery before the baby arrived - being used as a spare room
Another view of what was to become the nursery
The new nursery with a wallpaper mural
The nursery now has rows of colourful books on picture shelves, perfect for the little one
The mural came from the fab website Ohpopsi, and is made to measure to fit the wall. Hanging a wall mural is a bit different to hanging ordinary wallpaper, because you have to soak each piece in water just before hanging it, and do it very carefully. Unfortunately, the first decorator the clients hired didn’t read the instructions and made a bit of a mess of it. Needless to say, he was off the job, so when the clients found someone else to hang it they were very relieved to find it went up easily. Ohpopsi were very helpful and gave us lots of advice, and more instructions.
The new decorator also had to wallpaper the ceiling, with a striped wallpaper, so he needed to know what he was doing. I had decided that it would be lovely if the subtly striped wallpaper I had chosen for one wall continued up and over the ceiling, to give the baby something interesting to look at and to create a cocooning effect. The wallpaper is from Cole & Son, and you can see it here.
The subtly striped wallpaper on the ceiling
My clients were understandably a little unsure if this would look okay, but I reassured them and they were brave and went for it. This is what Erika thought of this part of the design process:
Louise came up with lots of ideas, not just with regard to design, but how to overcome unexpected issues and she also guided us when we were unsure as to whether we should implement a measure or not e.g. wallpaper a ceiling. Louise always ‘thought outside of the box’ and made sure that the designs not only fit our briefs, but stayed within budget, maximised space and wouldn’t date.
I really enjoyed working with Marc and Erika as they are open to ideas, willing to try things, and never just say no to an idea. They are happy to talk things through and trust me when they need to. They even asked me to help with the design of their garden a few months after we finished the nursery, which was a pleasure to do. Working with the same clients more than once is great as we’ve already built up trust and a way of working together which comes from understanding each other. It’s also really lovely when a client comes back to ask for more help, as it means they are truly happy with the service they’ve had and the results they’ve got. Here are Erika’s final words on the experience of designing this way:
Family and friends think the rooms are lovely, people have been “wowed” when they have stepped in and seen the end product. The rooms are inviting, quirky, stylish and functional. Lots of people comment on different objects they love as there are lots of points of visual interest throughout. Louise is brilliant and we have worked with her several times. I can’t recommend her enough!
I’m honestly so moved when I get comments like this, and it makes me so happy to know that I’ve improved someone’s life with the skills I have. I finally got to meet Marc and Erika and their new baby last year, when I went to take some photos of the finished rooms. They are such warm and genuine people, and are clearly enjoying being new parents. I’m so glad that they decided to take a chance on me, and that I could meet them in person.
Welcome to the design blog, where you'll see posts about anything from the projects we are working on, to the latest fabric and wallpaper collections, and all things interiors related. We love colour, pattern, architecture and old buildings, and we love to share our finds with you.
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Beautiful outdoor lighting
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The perfect combo
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Rebel Walls x Jack Kinsey
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Heritage tiles from House of Hackney
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Fired Earth x Nina Campbell
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|One of the best known interior designers, Nina Campbell, has collaborated with one of my favourite tile suppliers, Fired Earth, to produce an elegant range of beautifully patterned tiles, and a complementary range of understated plains. They are designed in her signature style, and are very easy to mix and match to create a relaxed look in your home. You can see the collection here.|
New National Trust wallpapers
28 Feb 2023
|A new collaboration from Little Greene and the National Trust, a collection of wallpapers spanning over 200 years of decoration. The designs have been created from original papers found at three of The National Trust's historic houses, and printed using traditional techniques. The collection includes hand painted birds and stylised florals, and comes in 45 colour ways. You can buy the collection here.|
More pattern joy!
28 Jan 2023
|New from one of my favourite wallpaper suppliers, Woodchip & Magnolia, comes a long awaited collection of 18 bold and beautiful cushions. Inspired by some of their best selling wallpaper designs, they are made in tactile velvet and feature a pattern on one side and a coordinating plain on the other. You can see the collection here.|
New colours from Fenwick & Tilbrook
28 Nov 2022
|One of my favourite paint suppliers, Fenwick & Tilbrook, have just released 5 new colours. Named lovely things like Tarnished Brass and Spring Puffin, these warm, muted shades have been mixed by eye and are perfect for creating cosy, cosseting homes. You can see all their colours here.|
Out of this world lighting
28 Oct 2022
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Introducing sustainable pendants from Mullan Lighting
28 Sep 2022
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Whipping up a storm
28 Aug 2022
|A colourful innovation from stylish flooring brand Alternative Flooring - you can now add a colour of your choice to the edges of any stair carpet runner they are making for you, taking whipped edges from ordinary to full of fun.|
A responsibly made lamp
28 Jul 2022
|New from lighting brand HouseOf, a responsibly made eco table lamp. Made from recyclable and waste materials, and designed and made in London, they will even take it back within the next ten years in exchange for 20% off another one of their products. You can learn more here.|
Corduroy is cool again
28 Jun 2022
|A new fabric from Kirkby Design called Sculpt includes these deep pile cotton velvets which look just like large versions of corduroy. The look takes me right back to my childhood, and is very comforting. You can see the collection here.|
Colourful, wonderful boucle fabric
28 May 2022
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28 Apr 2022
|This month, we were pleased as punch to receive the Best Homes & Interiors award from the prestigious Cardiff Life Awards. Cardiff Life Magazine are well-known champions of our city, and the annual awards celebrate the best of Cardiff talent, so we are over the moon to be named 2022 winners!|
Morris & Co. X Ben Pentreath
28 Mar 2022
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28 Feb 2022
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New fabric collection from Prestigious Textiles
28 Jan 2022
|A new collection of sumptuous fabrics has just been released from Prestigious Textiles, called Monsoon. The collection includes tactile velvets, animal motifs, embroideries and beautiful sheers, so it's versatile enough to use anywhere in your home. If you'd like to know more about these fabrics, please get in touch.|
New reeded glass pendants from Mullan Lighitng
28 Nov 2021
|Lighting designers and manufacturers Mullan Lighting have a new range of reeded glass pendant lights available. These Mid Century inspired lights come in three shapes and four finishes, but the Nahla (the one pictured above) is my favourite. You can see the range here.|
Little Greene and Bert & May join forces
28 Oct 2021
Little Greene has announced a collaboration with tile brand Bert & May. The collection sees eight gorgeous Little Greene shades translated onto tiles, giving you even more opportunity to add colour, texture, and a mix of materials to every area of your home. I love this bathroom combination above, with the perfectly matched tiles and paint offset with touches of terracotta, mustard and oak. You can see the full collection here.
Dulux colour of the year - Bright Skies
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A new home collection from Paloma Faith
28 Aug 2021
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It's all about soft yellows
28 Jul 2021
|I was watching an Instagram live post from The Little Greene Paint Company last week, and they were discussing a comeback for yellow. Now, as you know, I don't think you have to follow the trends but yellow hasn't been fashionable for a long time, so this sunny, uplifting shade is often overlooked. A warm yellow like Little Green's Carys (above) is perfect for cheering us all up, and you can buy it here.|
The cushion that gives back
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A beautiful new tile collection inspired by the National Trust
28 May 2021
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Yummy new switch & socket colours
28 Apr 2021
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A sustainable fabric choice
29 Mar 2021
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Sought & Styled - Preloved items given new life
28 Feb 2021
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Do kitchen worktops bore you?
27 Jan 2021
|Thanks to a genius idea from kings of pattern Blackpop, you can now have one of their colourful designs on your kitchen worktop. They will put any of their funky fabric or wallpaper designs onto waterproof MDF to make you a unique worktop, or they can even make a design just for you. Chopping will never look the same again! You can buy the worktops from their website here.|
A Fresh Take - Cardiff Life feature
18 Dec 2020
|This month's issue of Cardiff Life Magazine is out today, and features an interiors special, because one thing this past year has made us do is take a new look at our homes and how we'd like to live in them. To see what I and other local interiors experts have to say on the subject, including a round up of the trends for 2021, have a flick through the digital mag here.|
An enchanting inaugural wallpaper collection from Tom Baker
26 Nov 2020
|This opulent and atmospheric wallpaper from Tom Baker immerses you in a world of tropical flora, fauna and exotic animals. With soft cool tones and hints of pink floral detailing, this is the perfect wallpaper to add a relaxing and exciting edge to your home. Find this enchanting collection here.|
A new shady collaboration between Matthew Williamson and Pooky
20 Oct 2020
|The humble lampshade is often overlooked, but with the new collaboration between Pooky and Matthew Williamson they won't be for much longer! Matthew Williamson has applied his talent to design a new range of Pooky lampshades. Whatever your taste, colour scheme or budget you will find the perfect lampshade for your home in this new collection which is now available. This spectacular new collection can be found here.|
Felt covered curtain poles
17 Sep 2020
Now you can add some texture to your window dressing with these Walcot House felt covered poles. The pure wool coverings come with a option for bronze or steel fittings and wide spans up to six metres. The curtain track is cleverly hidden within the wooden curtain pole and there's a choice of nearly 50 colours and textures. You can find out more here.
Please vote for my blog
11 Aug 2020
|I'm really thrilled to have been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog Award this year! If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to vote for me, I'm nominated in the Best Interior Designer Blog category, and you can vote for me here.|
Upcoming interiors trends from Love Rugs
10 Jul 2020
|Love Rugs, the people who know about all things rugs have just published a feature on the upcoming interiors trends for 2020. They asked six of the UK's top interior designers (including me!) to tell them what the upcoming trends are, and in particular the changes we will be making to their homes. The article can be read here, and if you'd like to have a look at the huge range of rugs they offer, click here.|
A new fabric collection from Linwood Fabrics
15 Jun 2020
|I love Linwood fabrics - they have a fab way of mixing colour and pattern into something really special, producing fabrics and wallpapers that make me want to coo. This new collection, available at the end of June, is just as gorgeous. It's called Kami, with the pattern inspired by a 19th Century document. The collection is a range of printed velvets, so perfect for upholstery and accessories like cushions.|
An easy way to update your kitchen
16 Apr 2020
|If you are looking to update your existing Ikea kitchen rather than replace it, Stockholm based company Superfront are here to help. They sell a range of fronts, handles, legs and tops to fit not just the Faktum kitchen range but also the Besta, Metod and Pax ranges - so you can customise anything from your sideboard to your wardrobe. These super cute round handles are part of their new birch collection, and the whole range can be found here|
Move over boring taps - colour is the new black
13 Mar 2020
|Colour has been taking over our kitchens and bathrooms for a while now (yay!), and has slowly been creeping into sanitaryware and fittings. These perfectly coloured mint green and pastel pink taps from the new Miami Colour Pop Collection from amazing homeware brand Dowsing & Reynolds are spot on and would look gorgeous in any kitchen or bathroom to add a shot of colour without overwhelming with sugary sweetness. You can learn more about this new collection here.|
Who knew a door stop could look this good?
19 Feb 2020
|Door stops are one of those little annoying things that we all need, but are not the prettiest to look at. Now London based Buster & Punch have turned their attention to the problem and transformed the humble door stop into something cool and covetable. They might cost more than your average one from a DIY store, but as you're going to see it every day, why not look at something beautiful? here.|
Wallpaper made of cork?
29 Oct 2019
|Sustainability and concern for our environment are key in the interiors world right now (as they should be). So when I saw that Monkey Puzzle Tree (a brand I admire for their sense of style and creativity) had produced this wallpaper made of cork, I was blown away. Cork is great for so many reasons - it can be harvested every nine years without harming the tree, is grown without the need for pesticides or fertilisers, has excellent sound and heat insulation properties, and is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal. This wallpaper has an A+ rating for emissions so it creates a healthy environment wherever it is hung. Add to this that the design was produced in collaboration with the talented Drew Millward who lives in my home county of West Yorkshire, and that it's called 'Hit The North', I was bound to fall in love with it. You can buy the wallpaper here.|
I'm in Cardiff Life magazine - again!
17 Sep 2019
Now that the summer is officially over and our thoughts turn to cosying up our homes for winter, I'm here to help. If you're in need of some inspiration, you can read all about the interiors trends for Autumn and how to work them into your home in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. Hear what I and other interiors experts have to say on pages 18-22. You can read the digital version of the magazine here.
I've been nominated for an Amara Interiors blog award!
6 Sep 2019
|Exciting news! My little blog (Design Insider) has been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog award! I'm so chuffed to be included at all, and not expecting to win, but if you enjoy reading my blog posts then please vote for me. I'm nominated for the Best Interior Designer blog category. Voting is open until the 11th of September and you can vote for me here.|
My kitchen project featured on the Artifact Lighting blog!
1 Aug 2019
When I designed the contemporary copper kitchen, I wanted to use some copper elements to add warmth and also to tone in with the pink walls and pale grey units. I found these pendant lights from a company called Artifact Lighting, and they are perfect because they add to the 'warm glow' I wanted to acheive. They also have a vintage look which contrasts nicely with the sleek look of the kitchen units. When the kitchen was finished I sent some pictures to Artifact Lighting, and they liked the kitchen so much they featured it on the blog page of their website.
You can read the blog page here
House of Hackney's first outdoor fabric
26 Jun 2019
One of my favourite interiors brands, House of Hackney, who are known for their daring and quirky prints, have just released a new fabric which is suitable for our door use. They took one of their designs, Palmeral, and reimagined it in a fresh colour palette of off white and green. This colour fast and water resistant fabric can be used for anything from outdoor cushions to furnishing yachts (if you are lucky enough to have one!)
My thoughts on the colour Living Coral in Cardiff Life Magazine
31 May 2019
|Hear what I and my fellow designers have got to say about Pantone's colour of the year, Living Coral, and how to use it, in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. The article is on pages 84-86, and you can read it here. Do you think you could use it in your home?|
Sustainability in furniture design
7 May 2019
|Sustainability is something that is becoming more and more important in interior design - not just where we buy items from and how far they've travelled to get to us, but also the materials that they are made from. Kartell, one of Italy's best known design brands, have just released the world's first piece of furniture made from a bioplastic called Bio-On. It's a fully sustainable version of one of their best selling items - the Componibili modular unit, and it comes in four delicious pastel shades. They may be 100% sustainable, but they are also super cute and bang on trend with this seasons colours. You can buy them here|
The latest trend in shutters
24 Feb 2019
Forget painted shutters - the new style direction for window shutters is bare wood. These full height shutters made from sustainably sourced ash are the newest product from California Shutters, and are set to be big this year.
My new favourite tile!
7 Feb 2019
I was searching for some tiles for a client's splashback recently and came across these beauties from Topps Tiles. There's long been a trend for patterned tiles, with lots of geometric shapes and bold colours going on, but I've begun to see more and more tiles with a pattern in the surface of the tile itself. These ones are a lovely example, and the deep blue colour is just stunning. To get a closer look at them, follow the link below.
Pantone announce their colour of the year 2019
11 Dec 2018
Leading colour experts Pantone have annouced the shade which they think will be the colour of the year for next year - Coral pink. It might look very bright and scary, but it's actually quite easy to use. I wouldn't suggest painting a whole room in it, as that might be a bit overwhelming, but I would use it in small doses, such as on cushions or in artwork, to liven up a shceme. Pantone say that the colour is meant to 'embrace us with warmth and nourishment and provide comfort and bouyancy in our continually shifting envirnoment', which basically means it's a happy, uplifting colour, and might just cheer us all up!
My work featured on Homify
8 Oct 2018
My work has been featured in an article on Homify - one of the leading online ideas platforms for all things interiors. My project is in an article on how to avoid common mistakes when designing a bedroom. The article mentions how important it is to block out light for a good nights sleep - something I addressed by adding blackout lining to the curtains and adding an extra layer of window dressing with the wooden Venetian blinds. To see the article, please use the link below.