Should an interior designer design for themselves or for their client?
8 min read
Published 28 Oct 2020
A visual for a room scheme I designed earlier this year
So, you’re ready to hire an interior designer to help you with your home. You have a look around for potential designers who fit the bill, and find a few who look professional and experienced. Do you have a look at their portfolio on their website, to see what kind of style their design work is? Or do you think that it doesn’t matter what styles they’ve produced before because they are designers and will design for you?
Surely the answer to this question is simple - the client is paying the designer and it's their home, so of course they should do exactly what the client wants, right? Well, I think it’s a little more complicated than that, and with good reason.
It's the designer’s job to ask the right questions and draw out the brief from the client, and to find out exactly what they want for their home. You discuss styles and look at images together, so that the designer can get a better understanding of your taste. But, if the designer goes off to produce your design and comes back with exactly what you asked for, then have they done their job properly? If they follow your instructions to the letter, why did you need them in the first place? You might tell your designer that you want a navy blue feature wall with the other walls painted in a pale grey, and if that is the scheme you’re presented with, then how has the designer helped you?
|The Contemporary Copper Kitchen|
My reasons for including some copper into the scheme were these - it added much needed warmth to a sleek kitchen which could have looked cold without it, and I was careful to add only a couple of copper touches and didn’t go overboard with copper pans and accessories. Of course, a couple of years later copper was so on trend it was everywhere, and you couldn’t look for items for your home without being inundated with copper candle holders or even copper cutlery.
But I stand behind this scheme, as the way which I wrapped the copper around the breakfast bar was innovative, and I knew that in the context of the overall design, with other metals such as brass and steel mixed in with soft pink walls, it would be loved and enjoyed for years to come. You can see more of this kitchen here.
As in the example of the copper trend, a client might come to me with an idea that they've seen in a magazine or on Pinterest, and ask me to design something like that for them. I encourage my clients to look for inspiration and ideas before we meet for our consultation, but sometimes magazines and Pinterest can be unhelpful. Interiors trends are much like high fashion trends and are predicted up to two years in advance, and will be showcased at industry events and in trade publications. Furniture and decor manufacturers produce high end, high fashion pieces which are shown to designers and writers much like the catwalk shows of the fashion world are presented to style editors. The new trends are then picked up by interiors magazines who will write pieces on them, and less expensive or high street stores will begin to make their own pieces influenced by the design shows. Eventually, the new trend will be everywhere, and you’ll be able to pick up similar items at the supermarket. By the time these interiors trends have filtered down to your local Tesco, there are newer, fresher trends coming in and what was so current last year is now out of date.
A rattan dining chair at the Decorex Trade Fair in 2019
|A similar rattan chair on sale over a year later from H & M Home|
By the time those trends from the design shows have made it on to sites like Pinterest, the interiors world has already moved on, and as designers, if we produced a design heavily influenced by the images we are seeing all over the internet, we’d be replicating something that's already out of date. A good example of this is the kitchen I designed in 2019 as part of the Modern Country Renovation, which you can see more of here. At the time I designed it, navy had been predicted to be a big trend in kitchen cabinetry, and was already on the radar of the fashion forward interiors lover. But I knew from my design industry sources that navy had had its moment at the top of the interiors tree by then, and that dark green was becoming the next big thing for kitchens. So why did I design a kitchen with a navy island and navy accents? Because I knew from my discussions with my client that she loved navy, and that it would look timeless and classic in this kitchen. She wasn’t into green at all, and it wouldn’t have been right for me to steer her towards a green kitchen just because it would be on trend. This kitchen was right for her, and I made it work in a way that wouldn’t date. Interestingly, my client is a busy woman and didn’t spend her time looking out for interiors trends, so when I suggested navy she was a bit worried it might be too much, and that the navy tiles in particular were too dark. It’s another part of my service to my clients to push them gently out of their comfort zones, and again, open their eyes to the possibilities and potential in their homes.
|The navy and white kitchen from the Modern Country Renovation|
When I was first discussing ideas for a new bedroom scheme for some clients in London, they initially wanted to keep the room light and bright. It had been painted in a beige colour by the previous owners, and they felt the room needed some personality, but didn’t want it to be oppressive. We threw around a few ideas, but I really felt the space could take a strong colour, and suggested a dark green all over the room, including on the ceiling. They were very open minded, and could see the cocooning effect of having every surface painted in the same colour. They quickly got on board and were excited for how it could look. I took the idea and came up with a concept which not only suited the age of the house, their style, and their lifestyle, it also really excited me. I feel strongly that a designer produces their best work when they are enthusiastic and fully committed to the scheme they are designing. It can be a real labour of love to design a home, and a designer who believes in the work they are doing is much more willing to put in all the hard work required to get it done.
The client's room before we began the project - definitely in need of some personality
The same bedroom now the project is finished - with dark green walls and statement wallpaper
A final point to consider is why a client might ask a designer for help in the first place. I’m hired by my clients to have a vision for their homes that they just aren’t able to see, for whatever reason. Putting together a scheme is like making a painting or piece of art, the designer not only has to consider all the practical solutions, but they work like an artist does. They select and pull together colours, shapes, textures and proportions, and layer them to create a unique scheme. Ten designers, when presented with exactly the same brief from a client, will produce ten very different schemes, because they will inevitably inject some of their style and personality into them. Interior design is personal to not only the client, but also to the designer, and I would encourage potential clients to do a bit of research to find the designer that is right for them - someone whose work they like, and has worked on projects similar to theirs in the past. That’s the way to get the best results from your designer, and the best for your home.
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.
All that glistens - antique copper from Soho Lighting
28 Nov 2023
|Add some warmth and interest to your interiors with the Autumnal hues of antique brass, copper and brushed brass light switches and plug sockets from The Soho Lighting Company. Our favourites are the antique copper collection, as they are hand finished to replicate the aged tone of Victorian cookware.|
Paint made from olive stones?
28 Oct 2023
|Well known paint brand Mylands have created an innovative new paint range made from ground olive stones. Using a waste product and turning it into an eco friendly paint is genius as it has virtually no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and creates minimal environmental harm. It is available in all their beautiful colours, and will leave the air in your home purer after decorating, meaning you and your loved ones will benefit too.|
Recycled yarn given a new life
28 Sep 2023
kirkby design's latest range is a happy collection that not only looks good but does good too. Created using 100% recycled cotton yarn from the fashion industry these eco-conscious prints are the perfect way to bring a splash of colour into your home this Autumn.
Shower curtains can be cool too
28 Aug 2023
|Who says shower curtains have to be white (or greying with mould)? The fabulously patterned range from Divine Savages is a bold and easy way to add a wall of colour and pattern to your home with no commitment. Very easy to change, and very easy to fall in love with too!|
Beautiful outdoor lighting
28 Jul 2023
|Outdoor lighting is not usually something to get excited about. But this new collection from Soho Lighting is beautiful, and in on trend but timeless brass. Inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show and designed to compliment any style of planting, there are three new lights in this collection. They are all made in Britain and you can take a closer look here.|
The perfect combo
28 Jun 2023
|We often have lighting combinations in our rooms (such as kitchens) where some lights need to be dimmable, (say over the dining table) and others need to be a functional on or off switch. The clever people at Dowsing & Reynolds have combined these types of switches into one plate, which is not only practical but stylish too. You can see the range of switches and finishes available here.|
Rebel Walls x Jack Kinsey
28 May 2023
|If you are a fan of the BBC's Interior Design Masters, you'll recognise Jack Kinsey, the runner up in the final of this year's show. He was our favourite to win, and is incredibly talented. It's lovely to see him team up with one of our wallpaper suppliers, Rebel Walls, to create a hand painted bespoke mural collection which brings the best of the past into the present. You can see the collab here.|
Heritage tiles from House of Hackney
28 Apr 2023
|One of my favourite maximalist brands, House of Hackney, have released a stunning new collection of heritage tiles based on their most popular floral design, Artemis. They are hand made and traditionally glazed, and come in a rainbow of signature House of Hackney colours. You can buy the tiles here.|
Fired Earth x Nina Campbell
28 Mar 2023
|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
|It just so happens that I'm excited by newness from Mullan Lighting again this month. They have launched a fabulous colourful series of wall lights, with celestial names like Mars, Neptune and Jupiter, and I just LOVE the use of colour in them. You can see the range here.|
Introducing sustainable pendants from Mullan Lighting
28 Sep 2022
|The brand new Altus and Betty ranges of pendants from Mullan Lighting are beautiful, but we are also excited about them because they are handcrafted from rattan and abaca, which are sustainably sourced materials. You can see the Altus collection here, and the Betty collection here.|
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
|The trend for super soft Boucle fabric is still going strong, but up until now we've mostly seen it in creams and whites. One of my favourite fabric suppliers, Linwood, has produced a new colourful collection of 48 shades. It's a durable and soft fabric, and works particularly well on sofas and cushions.|
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
|The designs of William Morris have made a comeback over recent years, and now they have been given a striking makeover by interior designer Ben Pentreath. The Queen Square Collection has reimagined some of Morris's most famous fabrics and wallpapers in rich tones and vibrant colourways. You can see the collection here.|
28 Feb 2022
|One of my favourite design houses, Woodchip & Magnolia, have gone all out for the all over pattern trend and produced wallpapers and fabrics in the same prints, which I love. You can see the whole stunning collection here.|
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
29 Sep 2021
So, Dulux have announced their colour of the year for next year, and here it is! Bright Skies is described as the 'breath of fresh air' that we all need after being indoors for so long. What do you think? I'm reserving judgement at the moment. It looks a little cold in the picture, but I don't think the beige sofa and the styling are doing it any favours here. Maybe colour drenched (painted on walls, ceilings, trims and doors) and with some warmer burgundies and terracotta, it could be lovely. You can buy the colour here.
A new home collection from Paloma Faith
28 Aug 2021
|British singer songwriter Paloma Faith has recently launched her first collection for the home. It includes wallpapers, fabrics, cushions and bedding, and she describes the look as 'faded grandeur and retro maximalism'. The prints are everything I love - dramatic, colourful and fun, and you can see more of the collection here.|
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
28 Jun 2021
|Introducing the cushion that gives back, from homewares company Oka. They have produced this cushion in partnership with The Trussell Trust who support two thirds of the UK's food banks, and 100% of the proceeds from sales of this lovely green velvet cushion will be donated by Oka to The Trussell Trust. It comes in a range of other colours too, and you can buy the cushion here.|
A beautiful new tile collection inspired by the National Trust
28 May 2021
|Just launched, Ca Pietra a new tile collection in collaboration with the National Trust. Every tile has been inspired by one of the historic properties, gardens or coastlines looked after by the Trust, and a minimum of £10,000 from sales of the tiles will be given to the National Trust to help them continue their important work. You can see the collection here.|
Yummy new switch & socket colours
28 Apr 2021
|Did you ever think that your light switches were good enough to eat? I'm guessing the answer is no, until now. You can now buy switches and sockets in these gorgeous colours from the new Dowsing & Reynolds Cafe Culture collection. They come in luscious shades like Cinnamon, Caramel Latte and Whipped Cream, so you can tone, coordinate or contrast with your wall colours and make every part of your interior scheme look delicious. You can buy the gorgeousness from here.|
A sustainable fabric choice
29 Mar 2021
|A beautiful new sustainable fabric range from Clarke and Clarke has just been launched. It's made entirely from recycled materials so you can refresh your home with a clear conscience. You can have a look at the fabric here. Get in touch with me if you'd like to buy any of this fabric.|
Sought & Styled - Preloved items given new life
28 Feb 2021
|This month I want to highlight a business run by a very talented lady I met a few years ago (remember when we could meet people?) Not only is she a creative interior designer, she also runs an online shop where she reuses and repurposes anything from soft furnishings to larger furniture items. Everything sold is bespoke and unique, and is effortlessly waste conscious because it's being used again. You can visit her shop here.|
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.