A positive result !!!
The other day, as I was driving through the lanes of Oxfordshire on the way to a client, I noticed rows of newly blooming daffodils, croci (assuming that’s the plural of crocus – if it’s not, it should be), and snowdrops. Wow, I thought, spring is finally almost here.
And that’s the way I’m also feeling about the interior design trade right now. No matter what your politics – and I’ll leave the pontificating on that subject to my fellow contributor Digby, Lord Jones – you’d have to be an ostrich not to have noticed the almost total stagnation that the last few years of “Will we, won’t we ???” have brought about. The general lack of confidence in just about everything has hit the interior design trade quite badly. It’s not that our potential clients have had any less money, they just haven’t felt in the mood to spend it.
There have been casualties, both in the manufacturing and the retail side of the trade. Some design houses have closed altogether, others have reduced their stock levels, and have launched far fewer new collections than they normally would. A chap I’ve known for at least 20 years, with a substantial business like ours, called me before Christmas to say he’d had enough, and was packing up.
But just lately things have definitely changed. Since around the middle of January there has been a much more positive feel in the air. We’ve had many more enquiries, and people through the showroom door. My diary for consultations has suddenly filled for the next few weeks. Quotes we sent out months ago have suddenly turned into orders. And I’m glad to say it’s not just us. Reps, who, bless them, have done their best to conceal their gloom over the last couple of years, have come in with positive stories, and a spring in their step.
And that’s why, ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pride I’d like to talk this month about the interior designer. What do we do, and what can you expect from us?
A good designer will have a natural sense of balance, and will know not only what works with what, but what they can throw into the mix to inject that “Wow” factor, to make a good room into a great room. Of course that comes not only with experience, but with having a comprehensive knowledge of the almost endless sea of product that’s out there. And that’s one major reason that yes, if you’re serious about creating a fabulous home you really do need to get yourself a good designer. Time and again, when we’re presenting a scheme to a client in the showroom they’ll say something like “That’s stunning and I love it, but I’d never have chosen it myself”.
A good and experienced interior designer will help you achieve (and hopefully surpass) the results you are looking for. They will spend time with you, get on your wavelength, ask the right questions, and most importantly listen to you and value your input. I’ve always said that the role of a good designer is not to impose their tastes on you, or to turn your home into a sterile fashion statement, but to extract your own vision from your mind, tweak it a bit, and turn it into a reality.
It’s YOUR home. Not only should it exude style by the bucket load, but it must also reflect your character.
So, what else can you expect from a good interior designer? Well, they will most certainly have access to a wide range of beautiful fabrics, papers, rugs and accessories that are simply not available on the high street. They will have an extensive library of pattern books, probably displayed in a well-appointed showroom, so that rather than just looking at a one dimensional picture on a website, you can see the beauty and lustre of an actual sample of wallpaper, feel the sumptuous texture and drape of a good quality fabric, dig your fingers into the pile of a plush carpet . . . sorry, I know I go on a bit sometimes – but it’s just something I’m passionate about.
Personally I’m not crazy about mood boards or computer-generated designs. So much so that we don’t do them at John Charles Interiors. Let me elucidate. When you look at a mood board, although you see each element of what a designer is suggesting for your room, there is no sense of scale, proportion or balance. For instance the sample of your neutral coloured carpet is probably smaller than the sample of a rich mustard cushion that has been thrown in as an accent. And even if the designer thinks you’re brave enough to embrace colour and pattern in your curtains, unless your mood board is a couple of metres square you’ll inevitably only get a small section of the overall pattern, which probably won’t even include all its colours.
As for computer aided design, it certainly has its place. You wouldn’t want to be without it for designing kitchens, bathrooms or office interiors, but for me it’s far too sterile to be of much use in living areas. Yes, you’ll see a room layout. You might even get a pretty good idea of the colours involved (assuming of course you’re not looking for pattern and texture). But what you most certainly won’t get is the feel of the room – the atmosphere that is being created . . . the Va Va Voom as Thierry Henry used to say.
The final, and possibly the most important part of the jigsaw is service – the very first product an interior designer will (or should) sell you. They will have an army of skilled craftsmen and women at their disposal, and will supervise and co-ordinate all work undertaken at your house. From builders, electricians and decorators through to specialist joiners, curtain makers and fitters, they will ensure that all work undertaken is of the highest quality.
From the moment you first make contact, the role of a good interior designer is to ensure that the experience of transforming your home – whether it’s one room or more – is not only a successful, but an enjoyable one.
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - March 2020