As somebody much wiser than me once said “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”.
Here was I, writing in the March edition of this renowned publication, saying that after a few years of uncertainty and negativity it finally felt as if both the country in general, and the interior design profession in particular, were experiencing something of a springtime (not only in the literal sense), when WHAM !!!!!! . . . quite literally the world as we know it changed totally within a matter of only a few weeks.
Suddenly, we were thrust into the alien environment called Lockdown. We were forced not only to stay at home, but also to re-evaluate pretty much every aspect of our lives. For some, work suddenly ceased. For others, not only the way we work, but the place we work in changed radically, and for at least the long term.
Other things changed too. Although further apart physically, as a society we became closer – more reliant on each other. We became acutely aware of, and immensely thankful for the talents and dedication of those key workers we may previously have unwittingly taken for granted.
And then of course there was home schooling . . . Oh my goodness !!! I now know why I’m an interior designer, not a teacher. Like many others I’ve subsequently heard about, our 7 year old took to it well – for at least the first 4 weeks. From then on it was like swimming through treacle.
Anyway, here we now are; 6 months older, and hopefully a fair bit wiser. It seems the right time to make treads – albeit cautious ones – towards new beginnings. For Live 24 Seven, this also marks a new beginning; not only is this the first edition since Lockdown, but it’s the first with a new management team at the helm (I was quite taken aback when the Big Boss told me he wanted me to keep on writing the interiors editorial – perhaps he has a side line in sleep therapy).
From our point of view here at John Charles Interiors, one thing seems definitely to be true. We have learnt to greatly appreciate not only our families, but also our surroundings. Many clients, both old and new, have come to us saying that they really want to invest in their homes; to make them even more of a sanctuary in these continually uncertain times.
Transforming part or all of your home (especially if it’s done properly) can of course be a fairly costly undertaking. Most of us don’t have money to throw away, so it’s really important to get it right first time. Which is why I feel it’s right and proper for me to extoll the services of interior designers.
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 - September 2020