Have you always had a passion for interior design? If so, how did it manifest before you turned professional?
Yes, as a child I would make houses out of cardboard or stacks of books. I had a Lundby doll’s house in which I spent hours rearranging the furniture and decorating the walls. As I got older, I progressed to my bedroom, the garden shed and any other rooms I was allowed! I would bring back throws for my bed and other treasures found while on holiday. I also collected endless books, building up a library – I was captivated by a Conran book on living in small spaces. I was always daydreaming, moving things around in my head, creating order and changing colours and the atmosphere of a space. I thought this was something everyone did!
What prompted you to turn your love for interiors into a career?
After leaving my job in the City as a trader, where I’d worked for 10 years, I renovated several properties of my own and helped friends do up their homes. Those renovations prompted me to embark on various short courses at London design colleges including KLC, Inchbald and St. Martin’s. Initially it was for interest’s sake, to see whether I might want to pursue it as a career. The more I learnt about the subject, however, the more I wanted to know.
Then Louise Bradley and her design team stepped in. I had employed them for a new build apartment in London that my partner and I were buying – that just happened to be opposite Louise’s shop in Chelsea! Working with a professional and talented designer like Louise, seeing her ideas come to life as she helped transform what was an empty shell into an elegant family home, was the turning point for me career-wise. I loved every moment of the process – learning how colour and texture were combined, the impact that finishes and lighting could have on the space and how old and new could be blended with modern furniture, antiques and accessories. I was taken in by how form blended with function, and inspiration was taken from surrounding historic buildings to give the space character. I knew it was a process I definitely wanted to be involved in as a career.
My first attempt at becoming a professional designer, however, was halted by having a young family and a husband that had been seriously ill. After taking time out to bring up my family, and work as a vintage fashion buyer for a business in Hong Kong, I took up my interior design studies again. This time, having renovated more houses and gained further experience in the field, I felt more confident, believing I could really create something special. Moreover, establishing myself as a designer at a later stage in life has meant I’ve been able to draw on all my past experience; from business to family, country and city living, world travels as well as having been client-side myself.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in making that career change?
Moving from the financial to the creative industry hasn’t been easy. My family and peer group didn’t initially take my interiors career that seriously. I think they underestimated the scale of the industry and its competitive nature. From a professional perspective, building contacts and gaining credibility in interiors became easier as I became more confident, with real projects to talk about.
What question should someone wishing to move into interiors ask themselves?
I would ask yourself whether you have the determination and drive to make this change work.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice on making that switch, what would it be?
If you do decide to go for it – be brave and follow your dream! Take small steps and don’t get disheartened if it takes longer to materialise than you would like.
Are you happy you made the switch?
Yes, while I loved my trading career, it was a job I fell into rather than my true vocational calling. Creating spaces with a beautiful ambience for clients can be so rewarding – it’s a form of energy healing and can enrich people’s lives. I get so much pleasure in being surrounded by beautiful things, keeping up with new trends and innovations, and spending time with like-minded people.
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