How would you describe your own aesthetic?
I like interiors with humour, colour, soul and a bit of shock value. I dont think I'm a true maximalist, but I like a considered bold aesthetic. I have really started to pair back the amount of stuff I have as I gain more pleasure from seeing big impactful pieces that are usually quite unexpected within that space.
What is the best piece of interiors advice that you have?
If a piece makes your heart sing every time you see it, celebrate it and build your scheme around it. Thought I must say, I'm not much of a planner as I like seeing a space evolve organically, I do this gradually over time and let the scheme evolve. This allows me to be a bit more flexible and adaptable to any other changes or issues that inevitably come up during a renovation. It also makes it easier for me to compromise by being less rigid and tacking design problems creatively.
What would you say is your favourite space in your home?
It must be my new kitchen, family space. We reconfigured our kitchen to create an open kitchen-living with a hidden door leading to the boot room and downstairs loo. It gives me real joy as we spend so much time in here and are so lucky to have a gorgeous bright kitchen with the glass roof. We totally live in this space now (proximity to the fridge I think helps)!
What is one design trend that you are loving at the moment?
I like the trend that people going a bit bolder and being a bit more playful with their interiors. Its especially important in a family home where you can be a bit more playful and colour and pattern can help you hide a multitude of sins. Why not wallpaper or use a feature colour on the ceiling.
One design trend that you hate?
I don't like gimmicky design or schemes that are too predictable - such as a coastal theme with pictures of lighthouses. I also hate chopped cushions!
Top pet peeve in your home
I have two! Firstly, any kit left around by my kids which I have to clear up after. Secondly is unmade beds. I have to always make my bed in the morning and when my kids don't their room just looks a hot mess.
How to do you think social media has changed the way people interact with interior design?
I think that it's been massive, it has helped people be a lot braver with their homes and therefore create more ambitious schemes. I think it also has helped people respect the process of design and recognise the level of work that goes into creating a well put together scheme.
Today we are having a chat with one of the owners of Rose and Grey, the beautiful interiors store tucked away on Altrincham (South Manchester) side streets which is a treasure trove of custom sofas, stylish accessories and decorating inspiration.
When did you realise your passion for interior design
I’ve always been interested in interiors, even as a child. My dad is an architect and my brother works in property development so a passion for interior design definitely runs in the family. As a child I used to cut up interior magazines to make scrapbooks, so it makes sense that I ended up in this industry!
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
We like to balance our collection between trend-led pieces and timeless design. We tend to focus on designs with longevity for our larger furniture items, only buying into trends that we know will be around for a significant time, like our best-selling velvet sofas. We always have pieces that reference Scandinavian and Mid-Century design in our collections, as these looks don’t date and really appeal to our customers. We mix in trend-led pieces through new fabrics and smaller accessories. At the moment we’re seeking a lot of inspiration from Byron Bay in Australia and Joshua Tree in California for a fresh take on the boho look.
Biggest challenges and successes in creating your brand so far?
The current situation is one of the hardest challenges we have faced as a business, but our head office team has adapted quickly to working remotely and we have stringent social distancing procedures in place in order to keep the delivery side of the business running safely. We launched the brand twelve years ago during the recession, at a time when buying furniture online was relatively unheard of, so we feel the business is rooted in weathering adverse circumstances and that gives us the confidence to know we will emerge from the current challenges intact.
In terms of successes, there have been many ‘wins’ we have enjoyed over the years, big and small – but the one that stands out for me is when the business reached a point where my husband was able to leave his job to join the brand full-time.
That ‘Aha!’ moment when you were recognised and knew you had created something special?
One design trend you are loving and one you are glad is over?
I am really enjoying the current trend for personality-led accessories – faces, boobs and bums on everything from vases to prints and textiles. Our customers can’t get enough of these items at the moment and the team have also been buying them for our own homes.
I am pleased the shabby chic trend is over; it was definitely a trend that lingered far too long.
When did you first realise your passion for interior design?
I've always been very creative and aesthetically driven. I used to work as a fashion merchandiser and buyer for boutiques which gave me skills which lent themselves easily towards interiors. I realised I really wanted to be an interior designer when we bought our first house and started renovating it. I had this "AHA!" moment where I realized that interior design is fashion for your home which is more permanent, more impactful to your life, and more important.
How did you land your first client?
My son made a friend at pre-school whose mother happened to be an interior designer so I basically begged her for a job. She wanted me to start the next day as she really needed help. She realised my potential and asked me focus more on her interior design projects and less on my freelance merchandising business. Within the year I started taking on my own clients and she was super supportive. From there I kept getting referrals. In my first few months I spent a lot of time listening to the "A Well Designed Business" podcast and signed up for Kimberley Seldon's "Business of Design" course. These things helped give me tools to streamline my processes. Once I implemented those changes, I felt empowered that I was running a proper design business as my presentations got slicker and more organized.
What is your process that you take your clients through?
For me it’s all about the fit! If clients find me on social media or have spent time on my website, they know me a little bit better and like ‘me’ and therefore we are a better fit. If the client doesn't really align with me aesthetically, it makes the whole process harder. There are enough designers out there with a range of aesthetics that there is really someone for everyone and I have realized that it’s okay if it’s not me.
I set up an initial paid consultation where we do a big brain dump of ideas (this also allows me to make sure that our personalities will be a match too) and if the client just wants to run with that and do the project themselves that's fine. Most times they love my ideas and don't know how to implement them so they hire me. Then I draw up a proposal for them based on the scope. Once the project begins we start with initial mood boards that nail the look down and feel, followed by a feasibility meeting with any trades to make sure that things we are dreaming up are possible. Once the overall look and feel is signed off on, we start working on the floor plan. Once that is finalized, we then can start filling in the blanks. We source the actual furniture pieces that fit the dimensions we laid out, design cabinetry, source the materials for hard finishes, etc. After everything has been sourced and budgeted, we do a full presentation with all the product line sheets, fabrics, finish samples etc. We can go into a revision phase if needed, but the next step would be procurement where we start purchasing all the pieces. Everything gets shipped to a warehouse while we are waiting for trades to finish their work. Once the shell is ready, we have everything delivered. Then you get your big HGTV reveal moment.
From the time you spent in the UK, did you find any of these steps different?
I think as we do so much furniture production in the US, we are quite lucky that we have more sources. In the UK I found it difficult to find much at wholesale. I think in the UK you have a lot more artisans, so it’s great if you want to make custom pieces Custom furniture is usually better made and relatively local and therefore more sustainable which we love.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I always find this challenging, it’s hard for me to put a finger on a single aesthetic. I think it’s an eclectic mix of a lot of different elements. I like modern and traditional interiors, but for me it’s all about balance. So it’s about having a look that isn't too much one way or the other. I'm also very casual - I think the term is Californian Casual, lots of organic materials, textures and colours that are found in nature. I don't like to use super bright colours; I prefer things to be more saturated and deeper vs. brighter and louder.
Comparing the differences between how people tackle interiors in the UK vs California, what were your observations?
I think even though we have historical homes and countryside homes here in the US, in the UK the interior decor leans into the architectural style of the property a lot more. Whereas here we use it as the framework and do something much more modern with the décor to balance it out or even contrast it. I always gravitate towards linen as the go-to fabric and I found the UK gravitated towards velvets. A lot of this comes down to the climate. But I've seen a lot more velvets being used in the US now, more in natural colours though rather than jewel tones with more vintage and worn feels.
What do you think is helping educate clients to get designers involved as early as possible?
I think Pinterest and Instagram has been really helpful to show people what is happening behind the scenes and what it takes to get to the finished product. Most of my clients have style and an opinion, but need the skill of the interior designer to arrive at the end goal of the beautiful interior that they have in their mind. They want to take it to a different level that you can achieve from just going to the store and buying some furniture that you saw in an ad. I think especially now, we are realising how important the home is and that it should be our favourite place to be!
The other thing is that, fully furnishing your house is a massive investment. You would never undertake that level of investment in any other area of your life without seeking the advice of a professional, so why would you spend money on renovating or furnishings your house without getting the proper advice. Obviously, an architect will make sure its structurally sound and can give you feedback on layout etc, and the builder will build it for you, but who is checking that the way you live your life works with the space that you have? Who is making sure that the materials you choose make sense for your family? Who is making sure that there is harmony from one space to the next and that everything is cohesive and well considered? That is the work for an interior designer.
My clients tend to find a sense of relief when they get a designer on board because they can offload all those decisions, which can be a lot to handle. Also, it allows them to get someone's fresh eyes on the space, sometimes coming up with alternative solutions that may have never been thought about or considered.
What piece of work are you most proud of?
I think the two most recent projects are my favourite. The mill valley project is so me, I could move in tomorrow and not change anything as my client’s style was my style. We had loads of vintage and quirky gorgeous textiles, my favourite artists pieces are there... It’s basically my secret little dream house. The other project was the Mountain home. I love it as it was so outside of my comfort zone. The house was super 90s rustic and came out so beautifully. We had to respect the features of the house that the client didn’t want to get rid of (as they were the features that made them fall in love with the house in the first place) but work with them to create something beautiful. The brief was rustic romantic, which I wasn't sure of at first, but by delving deeper into their wishes we found a happy eclectic twist on it. It was a really happy collaboration between the clients and myself to come up with something that really felt fresh.
What is a massive no-no in interior design?
I have so many, but I think the first one that comes to mind is buying everything from the same vendor or shop (more like brands rather than curated interior shops). So, having a home that looks like the catalogue for that brand, it always looks exactly like that... A copy. The second thing is following rules too closely, people get paranoid about scale sometimes you can play with it a bit. Not rugs though, a rug that is too small for your space is such an immediate issue, so don’t break that rule! I think that nothing should be off limits really, even with colour or neutral spaces. In the UK you guys know that you can go crazy with colour and get it so right.
What is your favourite trend at the moment?
I think there are some things that have gone from trends to classic. That's when you know it’s good. The shift to handmade and artisanal is such a great trend I can get on board with and it should stick around forever. We go out our way to find pieces that are made in an artisanal way, which can benefit the maker in a more immediate way and supporting that community rather than exploiting that craft. These products tend to be more beautiful and have more soul to them... So might as well highlight and celebrate of people’s incredible talents. A machine can create a block print, but those that are made by hand are just that much more beautiful because of their imperfections. And if money can go to that person that is making it so lovingly, surely that is better than it going to a massive corporate machine
And one you can’t wait to see the back of?
I think I'm ready to get rid of boho and macramé and I think they are better replaced by some of these more soulful pieces I just described. I think some maximalist interiors can be a bit much for me and I don't like things being too in your face. I like things being slightly less obvious. Maximalist can be good if it’s done right, but it can also just be mayhem. More isn't necessarily always more, and just like delicious food, everything in moderation. You can go bold with color and/or print but I feel it should always be balanced and considered.
Chatting with bohemian loving Anna Hayman who describes herself as enduringly obsessed with pattern, crafts, and design. We have a chat about her brand and some of the notable surface pattern prints that she uses on fabrics, wallpapers and lampshades featured all over the interiors world.
When did you realise your passion for interior design?
This makes me think of when I was a little girl, my friend Sarah used to get infuriated with me, as instead of playing with our dolls I would spend all the time setting up the interiors scenes! I was insistent to get the right layout, decor and mood, that the actual playing was always secondary haha. But in adulthood, I suppose my passion for interior design, and the belief and realisation of my own projects, has been evolving over the last four years. Through gaining experience, insight and shaping (and reshaping) my own home, I’ve learned the necessary skills to take it from a dream to a reality. Now I’m on the brink of completing my first two residential projects, I am excited to install and ‘bank’ these into my portfolio.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
What has your journey into the world of interiors been like?
Because of instagram, it has been extremely welcoming. I’ve really been guided by the customer, and have navigated building a brand aided by this rich and rewarding tool. Working with River Island curating a bar area for their flagship store was an emboldening experience, edging my confidence up to curate and design whole spaces rather than purely products. And now through working with Greg Penn, @manwithahammer I have gained experience in working with residential clients, and period properties. Now I’m emerging more as an interior designer, the journey gets even more exciting as new opportunities are arising, even in lockdown!
Biggest challenges and successes in creating your brand so far?
I never know what to say re biggest challenges, when I get asked this, which I guess means it’s been a pretty easy ride. The thing is, this isn’t a job for me. I would do what I’m doing whether it made money or not, whether people liked it or not, so that fact that my designs ‘chime’ with lots of people is brilliant, but not necessary to me doing it. I’m an artist, I guess, and feel good that I’ve managed to create a recognised business from my love of pattern and texture. I’d never say I’m lucky, I’ve worked hard and thought hard, and I know I deserve my success. My proudest moment I think was when my design was picked out of over 1500 to grace the cover of Thames and Hudson book ‘Pattern Design’ as many of my heroes are encompassed. It also feels good that Liberty, Harrods and Bergdorf Goodman all came to me for my products, that really means it’s working!
Who is the quintessential Anna Hayman Designs customer?
I truly love my customers, they echo my feelings about the world in a way that is expressed through their homes. This dance between us is what I cherish and celebrate. They are knowledgable, primarily I guess. They are brave, and want their homes to be the ultimate expression of who they are. I recently gained a client who had been looking for the right printed cushions for four years, and both her and her husband fell in love with my designs, and have used my cushions in every room. This discerning customer is my favourite, almost the opposite of an impulse buyer haha. It’s ok to think hard about your home, especially now we are spending soooo much time in them.
What are your best sellers?
Bibana ,Siouxsie and Pearl are our bestselling designs. I think Bibana for her arts and crafts historical feel, Siouxsie for her pretty detail and rock n roll soul, and Pearl for that jazz age decadent vibe.
That “Aha!” moment when you were recognized and knew you created something special?
When I exhibited at Top Drawer in January 2016, I took the first parachute lampshade samples which caught the eye of Rockett St. George. When we photographed these on a dark background, and they were picked up by instagrammers such a Nicola Broughton
@the_girl_with_the_green_sofa the business slipped into the dark interiors scene, burgeoned by Abigail Ahern, I then realised really who my market were, and what I needed to make more of. It became a bit of a whirlwind after that, and I’m only just catching up now and really starting to strategise and plan ranges properly. My sister now works alongside me, and is planning to head up retail operations, leaving me free to explore more interior design and product design. This is an exciting plan for the coming year as I really then get to focus on the parts I’m most passionate about.
One design trend you are loving and one that you are glad is over?
I am absolutely loving a self skirted chair right now, and giant loungers. Anywhere you can sink down and dream/read. An item I’d like to see the back of is bar carts, too kitsch for me sorry!
Today we are speaking with Helen Orrock aka @theinteriorslady who has created her ideal home while downsizing into a beautiful monochrome and sleek interior space.
When did you realise you had a passion for interior design?
It probably all stems back to when I was a child. I remember around GCSE time I was making my own curtains, bedspreads and cushion covers. I then kind of bypassed it entirely until I started investing in property that I got back into it. I had cancer a while back, and it made me stop and re-assess what I wanted to do and that was to open a little interior shop which is what kept me driven and motivated through treatment. I ran my own store for 5 years until re relocated to the city. I did an interiors course at the national design academy, fortunate enough that it was in my hometown of Nottingham. It gave me enough skills to pursue the career I wanted to do . I love seeing the potential in any space and helping people finding their own style.
Clients don't always realize that an interior designer can help you gain value in your home, not just with a big extension or full remodel but also in smaller elements that are crucial to the good function of an interior space such as proper layout planning and creating lovely areas within the home. This gives both me and my clients great pleasure, when we can find new life in a client’s current possessions.
What is your process with your clients?
What if a client picks something you don't like during one of your shopping visits?
I've got one of those faces where I can’t hide my emotions so I will be very honest with them and tell them that I don't think it would work in the space. I am brutal, but it’s for their own good. The issue with shopping trips is that you sometimes don't find exactly what you are looking for, so it might take multiple trips or going to various stores to find the item that is just right! You need to be happy to walk out with nothing if you just don't find what you want. Overall, we always end up becoming friends as it’s such a close way to work with someone.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Very neural and monochrome, with layers of texture. I have a very restricted colour palate, with a strong emphasis on the black tone. I introduce texture with wools, sheep skins, and textiles. Another extra element is green from plants and foliage.
Biggest design no-no
Following an immediate trend that doesn't work for you or trying to copy an interior you see without thinking how it adapts to your personality or lifestyle. Also, I think that compromising on quality is another big no-no. Things like bedding, or hardware or upholstery need to be investments as you interact with them so closely. I'd rather have less but better quality.
What is your top pet peeve in your home?
We are lucky not to have any things that annoy us in our home. This happened as we did a lot of planning and predicted the issues before we completed this project. The biggest hurdle was to create the spaces that we needed due to downsizing but it allowed us to get exactly what we wanted. If I were to re-do this home, I would make all the same decisions. But I'm not sure if this is our forever home, by embracing a more minimal life, it has made me realise that I can live with a lot less. So, my next step is to build my own affordable, sustainable, minimal Scandinavian hut, it’s something for me to look forward to.