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 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.
The glorious weather recently has really inspired us to spend more time outside and really appreciate our outdoor spaces. So we thought it would be a great time to show you what has grabbed our attention with this seasons outdoor furniture and get ready for summer early! Have a look at a selection of our favourite pieces and click to shop!
Kicking things off with this stunning concrete table which seats 5-6 people so you can have a feast outdoors in style and not have to worry about not lasting the season.
Pair that table with these stunning Acacia chairs and you are onto a winner! These are great for indoor and outdoor use you can bring them into your breakfast area when the season is over and keep the summer vibes going throught the year!
I love an outdoor rug. Firstly it really brings the indoors-out! Thereby making that seating area or space more homely. It also helps with zoning larger outdoor spaces if they all have the same flooring. For example if you had a large deck or a paved area, and part of it was dining and the rest lounging, you can put the rug under one of those zones to really make it its own space within the paved area!
I love a fluted zinc planter and these ones have a lovely shape which makes them superb for both contemporary and classic spaces. Plant them up with verdants and aromatics near your seating to really create a show stopping space.
Get the fire side seating just right. You want a chair that you can snuggle into get cosy. How about this gorgeous chair with modern vibes that is great for sitting fireside with a glass of merlot!
Speaking of fireside, you will need a fire pit! I love fire! I love the smell of well seasoned wood and I love the flames. Get a fire pit, drink some wine and get cosy! This geometric shaped fire pit has all the statement of a sculpture with the joy of being able to take all that heat. Put some logs in it and light it up!
Shop the look
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I must admit, I absolutely love a good garden. The variation spaces that can be created and plants that can be used open up a whole new exciting world and with us stepping slowly from spring into summer it's a great time to get out there and use up your outside space as much as you can. Here are my tips to keep in mind when tackling your outside space, be it a balcony, a courtyard or a whole garden.
Follow the sun
Keep an eye out for which parts of the garden get the most direct light and which are more shaded. It will help guide which plants you place there and what you use the spaces for. If you can head out into your space multiple times of day through the year and notice the light levels change. Some places will never get direct light where as others might be constantly sunny! Check out this blog on how to sun map your garden
Layering matters both in a front to back, but also in a low to high dimension. Think about having plants with different heights growing from front to back in your garden. Also planting a whole area in one plant can make it visually uninteresting so consider making your borders or hedges more varied with different textures, colours and variations. Also consider plants that s stars at different times of the year such as berry bushes in the autumn, hellebores for an early spring flower and acers for the summer foliage
As with your home, different parts of your outside space can be used for various uses. Think about where to have your outside dining area (does it need to be in a sunny spot to keep you warm?) Consider adding other seating areas that encourage people through the garden and create different view points. Do you need a kids play-area? Do you have space for an outdoor kitchen or an outdoor lounge space? Do you want a veg patch?
Entice the senses
Encourage full immersion in the space with all the senses being activated. Scented lavender, tactile grasses or mosses, the sound of water over rocks or of wind through reeds, the taste of fruit straight off the branches, and the gentle sway of a swing. Using perspectives to create different viewpoints from the various areas in the garden will make it seem bigger and more interesting.
Think of where you will need your utilities (they need to be passed first). If you wanted a pond at the end of the garden, you might need a pump and therefore electricity and maybe even a water source - you don't want to be passing these after you have finally managed to get the lawn looking just right! Accent lighting of any specific trees or in other areas of the garden all need to be planned and specified so that the utilities can be passed to that area. If you wanted a barbeque at the end of the garden, consider how you are going to get coal to it and have it stored safely (might need to plan for built storage). Also, if you wanted to wash your hands, will you need a sink out there too? All things to think about and consider before you get started.
Outside spaces fill me with excitement as they really come to life in the warmer months but also they increase your private living space. They create a place where you can intimately interact with nature and make the most of the good weather.
I am so inspired by my recent trip to Puglia, in what is known to most people as the heel of Italy (that is if you consider the shape of Italy to be that of a boot). This region is one of the most fertile and agricultural in Italy and is absolutely full of gorgeous olive groves and scented jasmine. Sunlight is intense here, almost blanching the landscape, allowing the natural colours of things to come through. The Puglian design is humble and simple. Bare stone walls revealing ancient stone, paired with flagstones on the floor. The Trullo is an iconic symbol of this region and is basically a conical roofed stone house. This method allowed the people here to create insulated spaces that protect them from the elements without needing to use cement. That's right! The stones were classically placed on top of each other in ever smaller concentric circles forming the well known cone that stood tall without the need for any binding agents such as concrete, cement or pointing. We were lucky enough to have stayed in one of these Trulli and it was very inspiring.
Now I know that I love big bold colours, but there is something very beautiful about the elegant restrained palette in Puglia - it allows the infinite blue of the sky, the deep green of the jasmine leaves and the gorgeous gnarly wood of the olive trees to sing in the landscape. I will reveal my top tips for creating a Puglian inspired escape wherever you are based.
Lighting: Its all about the mood lighting. The daylight in Italy is so intense that coming into these places is sometimes a refuge from the intense sunshine and heat, therefore creating a calming space with mood lighting is important to help nourish ones spirit. Consider the amount of natural light you have in your space, and if its in a landscape with a lot of natural light then consider filtering the light slightly to soften it. If you are based further afield and light is already a scarce resource, such as is the case in the UK, then be aware that you will need to be extra careful when layering your light to create the right mood for different times of year and day. Think of highlighting architectural elements, low lighting and creating that glow essential for a calming space.
For help and advice on creating your own Puglian space, get in touch!
Above all, I suggest you visit Puglia. Its incredible and stunning yet humble and unpretentious. We stayed at the Leonardo Trulli resort, most of my photos in this blog post are from there. The gardens were incredible as were the trulli. I wasn't asked to feature them but the space was so inspiring I couldn't not.