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.
When did you realise your passion for interior design?
I studied fine arts and printmaking and initially I used to make abstract art for office spaces. Then did a degree in Interior design and worked with Nobilis (the high-end fabric and wall coverings company) as a sales rep in the North of the UK. I would see Interior designers working and thought I would love to get creative but I never really wanted to work as an interior designer for others. I guess it was when I started using Instagram that it really started expressing my creativity. I love doing styling work and working on building more of a lifestyle brand including outdoor living and food.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I would describe it as eclectic and maximalist with a homely vibe. Everything inside my home has a personal sentiment. I'm not afraid to use colour boldly and to mix styles. No-one would be able to re-create my home space exactly the same as it is so personal to me.
Have you ever heard or given any advice that you think is golden?
Give your space a soul. Make sure there is something within the space that really sings. Even if you are a fan of minimalist interiors, it could be something as simple as a massive fireplace with a gorgeous armchair and one sprig of eucalyptus. The space just has personality and reflects the people within it. Try not to copy other spaces that you see online or in magazines piece for piece, but try and adapt it to your own space and make it unique to you.
What do you find the most inspiring?
I am not impressed by expensive interiors. I think if we all had the money we could all go and spend 15K on a sofa. But what really impresses me is people who are innovative with their interiors and come up with solutions to their design dilemmas that really push the boat out. Someone making a beautiful piece of furniture with some scrap wood or upcycled furniture - that really inspires me.
My ideal space has to have these three things:
I would say a massive fireplace cos I love fire! It's so cosy and warm regardless of the time of year. I love lamps - again these really help create that atmosphere when the sunlight fades. Finally, plants, they just give life to a space. Overall obviously light is the most important element in a space.
What is your pet peeve inside your home?
What is your favourite space in your home?
I love our pergola! It's such a great outside space that we use all the time from Spring till Early Autumn. I wish we could glaze it and use it more throughout the year. But currently, we're loving having all our meals out there and I'm making my kids sit outside in their coats cos I just love using that space.
One design trend that you love and one that you hate.
I love anything boho and eclectic with a layered look. I don't really hate any specific trends, I don't think I'm a fan of French faux rustic look that is a bit too perfect, it just can seem a bit try-hard.
How do you think social media has changed the way people interact with or delve into interiors?
I think platforms such as Instagram has been great at providing people with an outlet for something they are interested in such as interiors and also, its lovely receiving feedback from people, other than my family, saying how much they loved a revamped space I worked on. But it can be quite noisy, sometimes all you see are massive accounts which don't necessarily have what you are looking for, and miss some incredible small accounts who are really inspiring. The other thing that can frustrate is seeing people playing the game and it seems very strategized. But I guess it's about finding people that really inspire you and trying to give them as much support as possible.
Tell me a little bit about your journey into Pooky lighting
It has a been a relatively tortuous journey but incredibly fun! I initially qualified as a lawyer, but soon realised it wasn’t the thing for me. So, I jumped ship and went into catering for the best part of 20 years operating a variety of different businesses from restaurants, soup wholesale, commercial catering and eventually to high end food delivery services. That was amazingly fun and challenging. My business partner and I then decided to go into sofas and focus mainly online. At the time it was pretty revolutionary and despite lots of discouragement we slowly built the business of sofa.com up over 7-8 years. I started to live and breathe the shapes, fabrics, colours and spring systems. After selling up I decided to go into lighting, because lights are the number 1 thing that one should think about in their house. They make such a profound impact to the interior and the mood of any space. Equally I love the fact that you can turn anything into a light, you can be as creative or as wacko as you like and have a lot of fun with lighting.
It is clear how passionate you are about the importance of beauty and form and despite not specifically having come from a design background you have a definite understanding and appreciation of it, be it in sofa design or lighting. Did you self-teach along your journey?
How would you describe the Pooky aesthetic?
Who would you say is your quintessential customer?
What have been your biggest challenges with setting up Pooky lighting?
Our biggest challenge was getting brand recognition and awareness as well as taking a big financial risk. Because we wanted to sell pieces at an affordable price, we had to invest and buy lights in bulk. So, I had a warehouse full of thousands of lights, of which we didnt know would sell. I was there holding my breath, looking at my website, hoping that someone would come on and buy. Design is a risky business - you have as many flops as hits, you get better over time obviously, but no one has any certainty.
What are your best sellers and which styles are less popular?
(Chuckling slightly) Well now, the Metro light - is a beautiful slightly industrial, solid brass light in various finishes with a very strong design, but surprisingly not many people buy it! On the other hand, our best seller is the light called Trafalgar - it has a very simple design, a solid brass obelisk. It is very elegant but contemporary. It came from an offcut of brass on the floor that I saw in a foundry in Portugal which we put a very flat base on and kept it very minimal in design. Another light that is doing very well is the Stucco, we spent a long time agonizing over how big those petals would be, the shape of the light, how far apart the rows of petals should be.
When did you have that big "AHA!" moment when you realized that you were creating something special?
I don't like to be complacent about what we do, because the moment you start thinking that you have cracked it that is when the edifice starts to collapse, but it is great to read the feedback on our site. We have recently hit 10k reviews and virtually all of them are 5star reviews. Some of them are really quite moving as some people are really grateful of what we do.
What are one of the interior trends that you are loving right now and one that you are glad is over?
What is the next thing that you are working on?
We are launching our outdoor lighting which is exciting. People tend to be less brave with outdoor lighting as they see them as functional lights. We are trying to create a range of swan necks and lanterns that add that extra decorative edge to outdoor spaces.
4. Consider all the senses. Keep the whole experience of your space memorable and festive. Light some festively gorgeous candles. My current favourite is WYNTER by AHLT, I have received so many compliments from it. Plonk it on the mantle and even unlit - the room smells of Christmas with sweet orange, spicy cinnamon and spicy clove.
5. Keep it simple. I keep my wrapping super simple and super effective. Brown paper wrapping, silk ribbon and a sprig of holly or pine and you are done. Cheap, cheerful and recyclable - especially if you use plastic free tape!
Hi everyone, today I thought I would write about my experience of creating sensory spaces in specific relation to bathrooms. As humans, we depend on our five senses to guide us through the world and how we interact with it. We also use these senses to derive pleasure and improve our wellbeing. Being aware of and considering these senses when designing your home and spaces within it is vital, as it helps maximise the positive experience we take from these spaces. I will delve further into each of these senses, and how, I have found ways of improving the sensory experience when designing a bathroom, in collaboration with my favourite pieces from Geberit and some pretty fun surprises.
This is an incredibly intimate sensation and often not as highly valued initially when considering a space, but has such impact. Think of when you are in your favourite store, you want to touch everything you see - its emotive, its raw. Like how you know which jumper you are grabbing for in a bag full of stuff when you feel its material, our tactile sensation is very powerful and through it we determine a lot about our surroundings, which is why its imperative to consider this sensation when designing a bathroom. Incorporating different textures and finishes gives your bathroom personality and depth. Think of the smooth surface of glass, the slightly rougher texture of wood, the fluffy towels and the clean ceramics. The Geberit Aquaclean WC is quite frankly a work of art. You can get models whose lid lifts without having to touch it. The toilets come with an incorporated bidet, giving you a shower clean finish with every use. You can have your personal preferences memorised using the app on your phone. These can specify what water pressure you like, at what angle and what temperature you want it at! To really ramp up the luxury why not have a heated WC seat? I first experienced this calibre of WC when travelling in Japan and was gobsmacked at the luxury and level of hygiene I felt after using it and shocked at how most homes in Japan have one but this is still an emerging trend in Europe. Come on! We need to up our game!
Our sense of smell, despite not being honed to hunt, definitely evokes within us emotions and reactions that we can use to our advantage when designing a space. Think of that smell of freshly cut grass in spring, or the smell of mulled cider and bonfires in winter - these evocative smells bring back memories and transport us to a different place and time. Aromatherapy is a great way to relax and help improve balance, both physically and emotionally. It allows us to focus on the smell and a memory, creating moments of mindfulness and helping restore calm. When one thinks about the sense of smell in relation bathrooms, it can evoke a mixed reaction - but this shouldn't be the case. The smell of our favourite shampoos or face creams all form part of our daily routine and we buy these products based on how they perform and make us feel, including their perfume. So if we extended this concept further to the interior of the bathroom space, we can use scented candles or reed diffusers to creating a soothing space to be in and relax. Geberit have also thought of odour extraction within their WC systems. "WHAT?!" I hear you say, yes! Apparently so! There is a small extraction vent that removes any of the unpleasant odours from the air through a ceramic honeycomb filter. Insanely brilliant!
Now this sensation is probably the least stimulated in the bathroom of all rooms. But our taste buds are stimulated by the toothpaste and mouth cleaning products we use and even possibly the glass of wine we sip on slowly when having a bath. So despite not being the most obvious space that will stimulate our taste buds, remember its also something worth considering when developing the sensory space.
[This is a paid partnership with Geberit. To find out more head to their website: https://inspiredbygeberit.co.uk/in-your-area/cheshire/]