In our Design Insights Interview this week we’ve spoken to award-winning interior designer Sarah Louise Gibbs from Finishing Touch Interiors who has just won the award of Most Loved Interior Designer in the UK in the 14 Days of Love campaign.
Q. Firstly, congratulations Sarah! What or who inspired you to have such a keen interest in interior design?
I have had an interest in design since I was about 9, it started with fashion when I got a fashion wheel for my 9th birthday & would spend hours putting pattens & colours together for clothes. At school I loved textiles, art & technical drawing so I knew that this was something I wanted to go into. As I got older my interest started to turn more towards interiors & after programmes like Changing Rooms I became addicted to everything interior design, collecting images & ideas for scrapbooks.
Q. What trends do you most enjoy working with?
My own tastes change a lot & I don’t follow one particular trend hugely but I do like working on projects that are based on vintage or shabby chic rather than ultra modern designs. I love working around old pieces of furniture & bringing them back to life, mixing them with other styles. It’s fun to work on a style that combines a customer’s personal tastes & bringing an individual eclectic look of old & new to life. A comfortable & practical space that incorporates style is what I feel happiest designing rather than opting for high end trends.
Q. What decorating techniques would you recommend to a homeowner who wants to update a room without spending a fortune?
It comes down really to picking out some neutral furniture pieces in the first place & then bringing in colour with textiles, especially cushions which can be purchased pretty reasonably & also with a fresh coat of paint. Once you have all the basic pieces of furniture you can play around with colours by changing the paint on the wall or updating new cushions without it costing too much. You then also have the opportunity to update your home with the seasons if you wish too. I love colour & would say to anyone go for it & experiment – it’s not so daunting if you add in a little colour at a time with a feature wall or a few cushions, you can always add more as you go along.
Q. What are your favourite design magazines, websites or blogs?
There are so many I don’t know where to start really, I love all the old faithful favourite magazines like Country Living, Elle Decor, Living Etc, 25 Beautiful Homes, Beautiful Kitchens, I could go on really.
For an online source I often pop over to housetohome as they use many of my favourite magazines as a database so I can find a lot of the inspiration I want from there.
I follow quite a few blogs some are designers, some are DIY fanatics & some are just lovers of interior design. Some of my favourites are Mix and Chic, Automatism blog, Focal Point, Decor8, The Decorista, My Design Ethos, Swoonworthy, Modern Country Style…
Q. Tell us about one of your favourite projects
I am presently working on a bathroom & kitchen for an old cottage, it’s actually rather spacious for a cottage & I love that the bathroom is big & has real scope to play with. Bathrooms are normally quite restricted with what you can do but this house has given me the opportunity to really play about with ideas & I love that it has some beautiful old features to design around. The kitchen is having some walls knocked down to make the space much bigger as well as leading it straight out into the garden by french doors. The whole house is basically being renovated & it is going to be completely stunning when it’s finished. The owner has great taste & she is great to work with, it’s a project I am really enjoying as the style is right up my street.
Q. What’s your favourite colour combination for the home?
That’s a hard one as I love many colour palettes. I think maybe neutrals like browns & beiges mixed with pretty blues or aquas. I love inspiration with calming sea colours mixed with a cosy & comfortable palette, mixing cool & warm, earthy colours together has a great feel. It’s the colour scheme I have for my own lounge. Small splashes of coral or even orange look great with this palette too.
Q. What do you think about Emerald Green as the colour of 2013?
You know I think it’s a stunning colour if used correctly – it’s a very bold colour so works better in my opinion in small pops of colour in rugs, fabrics or artwork & has a real wow factor against white walls. I saw a recent kitchen design with green splash backs & feature island worktop & it really brought the neutral scheme to life. It’s a fantastic colour mixed with other brights for a really fun modern style.
Q. What’s something you should never skimp on when decorating your home?
Firstly I think lighting is important in any space as it’s a key element to any schemes finished look not only is the style of lighting important visually for the look but also the amount of light it actually gives to the space itself.
Also you get what you pay for when shopping for kitchens & bathrooms. It’s best to invest in good quality furniture or pottery so that it lasts. You spend a large amount of money on these spaces so its best not to scrimp as you will regret it when a year or two down the line your cupboards are bowing or looking shabby. People often choose furniture because it’s cheap but if it’s not going to last you havn’t actually saved in the long run. There’s a lot of hype right now about trying to get huge discounts from showrooms but you are generally getting a proper design service & quality products from independent showrooms so prices are pretty much fair & like I said you get what you pay for.
Also paint brands like Little Green or Farrow & Ball may cost more but they are not only economical but also better quality, meaning you don’t need as many coats. Cheaper paints don’t always end up being cheaper by the time you have had to put on extra layers.
Q. Are there any insider interior design top tips we should know?
I don’t hugely follow trends, although it’s good to keep a breast of things. I am a real fan of eclectic styling mixing old & new styles together & finding a personal style. My advice to anyone is to keep a scrapbook of images of what stands out to them. As you build your file you will start to see a patten of what you like & this is where you should base your style. As a real beginner I’d say take a look at Holly Beckers new book Decorate Workshop – it’s a great read for somebody starting out & trying to find their own style. There are load of different interior design books out there especially for different styles & trends but this one is particularly good for a real beginner to help you put together ideas & schemes from scratch. If you have trouble with putting colour schemes together looking at the colour wheel is the place to start to find out about tones & hues & what palettes go together.
Most people who use interior designers have a general idea of what they like they just need help in putting colour pallettes together as well as knowing how to pull a scheme together. Interior design services don’t have to be expensive – a designer can help you as much or as little as you need whether it’s to kick start your own ideas or take on a full job. There are many designers out there including myself that now do E Design services which are very cost effective & have become very popular in the past year or 2 so if you are struggling it’s worth looking into.
Q. And lastly…(cheeky I know!) what’s your favourite Brabantia product and why?
Theres some fantastic products in the range but my favourite has got to be the retro bins, I love retro style so these are totally my cup of tea & would be just perfect for my dream retro kitchen.
A huge thanks to Sarah for speaking to Brabantialife. If you are interested in buying any Brabantia products online we have the full assortment here. Don’t forget to ‘Like’ us on Facebook and we can answer any questions on Twitter too @Brabantialife.