Approach

My work is based on a conviction that good and appropriate home interiors really can create a sense of well-being and give us sanctuary from the outside world.

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Starting the project

I like to listen to clients and learn a little bit about the way they live. Then I spend a short time walking round quietly getting to know their home. I tend to come up with initial concepts very quickly and am able to think logically yet imaginatively in 3D, eager to explain ideas to the client and get their reaction. I find that pencil sketches and formal plans are important but these need to be combined with continuing dialogue with your builder, carpenter or decorator – in this respect short but frequent site visits are highly recommended on larger projects. Aside from decoration and room schemes, good lighting and electrics are fundamental and these I consider from the start.

Professionals

Often on small projects there is no need for the expense of an architect or full plans, and with my background in structural engineering I can usually judge whether any changes require an engineer and recommend one if necessary.  Similarly with my experience of development I can help with planning advice and building control issues – that is to say the current Building Regulations and the way your local authority interprets them.  Sadly in this country builders are only as good as their last job – I do have good contacts in the trade but it can be as good to ask your immediate neighbours for a word of mouth recommendation.

Real-world design

For most of us on real-world budgets our best bet will be to mix the best the high street or industrial estate has to offer – building materials, furniture or appliances – with a few special pieces. The eye is drawn to the better things and the subliminal assumption is that everything is of that quality. Thus mixing good B&Q kitchen doors with a more expensive stone or engineered stone worktop is a favourite trick of mine – similarly a classy freestanding stove or fridge can really define a kitchen, while other appliances are best integrated and kept out of sight. The same principle goes for all types of room. Through all of this I aim to implement good interior design in the real world on sensible budgets.

Small spaces

I enjoy making the most of small spaces and giving a small property the feel and luxury of a much larger house. Generally the size of our homes has decreased over the last hundred years much faster than the average family has. I have a whole array of tricks for making small properties feel spacious – particularly devising ingenious storage solutions that make use of every possible empty space to keep clutter out of sight. This can range from designing built-in furniture to purchasing or adapting suitable storage solutions from shops. These basics are vital – but there are many other techniques I can use to simplify, conceal or highlight as appropriate.

Fashion

I don’t believe in following interior fashions too much, preferring to follow trends of trends rather than fads, and trying to predict what will still look good in 10 years time. Magazines are good when used as a source of inspiration rather than as a template. Your best investment will be to use decent quality materials, preferably natural such as wood and stone, and work around pieces of old or character furniture you may already have. This should prove a better investment than hurried acquisition of expensive new set pieces that you may not feel any attachment to in 5 years time.