Thrilled to be featured in Laskasas’ ‘Not So Secret Diary’
Cover of the interview with Laskasas
Step into the world of interior design…
Carly shares her 20 years of passion and expertise in creating bespoke, beautiful, and functional spaces.
WHAT INSPIRED ME TO PURSUE A CAREER IN INTERIOR DESIGN, AND HOW I STARTED IN THE FIELD?
I was inspired to pursue a career in interior design from a few different sources. The first was that my father was a builder, and I grew up going to the site regularly at weekends, and then I did an art degree at University. After that, I worked for a significant furniture dealership in London, and I became interested and passionate about the brands for which we were an authorized dealer, specifically Knoll.
This company was the largest furniture dealer of Knoll in Europe. I appreciated their history, the iconic design and the organic shapes of the connections, so this inspired me to start my own interior design company where I became a dealer for Knoll and, from there, organically developed from offering our clients services for furniture, rugs, lighting, window dressings to growing and becoming an interior designer that’s capable of large renovation work also.
TIPS ON HOW TO CREATE A COHESIVE AND VISUALLY APPEALING COLOUR SCHEME FOR A ROOM OR SPACE?
I create a cohesive and visually appealing colour scheme for a room or a space: I use a rule of a third plain, a third pattern and a third texture. This tends to have a good balance for visually and aesthetically pleasing spaces. However, in terms of colour tones, it does depend on how colour makes the client feel.
I tend to work with clients that work hard and wish to return home to have a calm environment, so my colour blend tends to be tonally neutral with accent colours that may be trending or timeless depending on the client’s needs, and I use natural materials.
BALANCING FORM AND FUNCTION IN DESIGN PROJECTS, AND WHAT APPROACH IS USED TO CREATE SPACES BOTH BEAUTIFUL AND PRACTICAL?
Homes are very linear, solid and straight, and I balance form and function by introducing curves and more organic shapes into each space. I feel like it softens the eye and that it’s essential to start with a practical solution and then beautify them. So this is how I tend to order that.
I do feel that it’s essential to address any practical needs for my clients, so I come up with solutions along the lines: of if they’ve got children, where they’re going to do their homework, how to include areas to enhance their lifestyle at the weekend and I then make them beautiful with softening shapes, materials and fabrics, which are both soft and pleasant to touch, but I do start with the practical first.
THE ROLE LIGHTING PLAYS IN INTERIOR DESIGN, AND HOW CAN DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIGHTING BE USED TO ENHANCE A SPACE?
Lighting plays a huge part in interior design, and how I plan that is specific to consider lighting at eye height and hip height, ensuring that there are always options and a combination of floor lamps and table lamps.
I tend to put those into a five-hemp plug with a dimmable switch so that clients can have a nice glow in the evening and something to attract the eye in terms of lamp shades and lamp bases. These may work with silk for a luxurious touch, a metal or a leather base, and a shadow, an organic fabric that always looks nice and soft. It’s vital to have ceiling lights.
I try to shy away from direct spotlights and deal with more of a downlight. Ceiling lights always have a dimmable pendant; wall lights are appropriate depending on the room type. Still, in general, I would say that I go overboard in lighting when affordable and always put them on dimmable everywhere.
Also, consider the circuits and talk to the electrician about that and then encourage there to be options depending on the activity or the experience. So, if the activity is to clean, I thought about that, and if the activity is to relax with friends in the evening, it needs to be more of a glowing atmosphere for lighting. I also consider how many watts are in the bulb and the kelvin temperature with other LED lighting, and I add that into consideration as well to illuminate styling objects around the room, depending on obviously which the room is.
WORKING WITH CLIENTS TO UNDERSTAND THEIR STYLES AND PREFERENCES AND INCORPORATING THEM INTO DESIGN PLANS
I work with clients that understand their styles and preferences. So I have a lengthy consultation asking lots of questions about how they like to live, what makes them feel good, how they can feel relaxed, maybe in the office they want to feel more stimulated, what colours and materials do that, what are their favourite hotels.
I then show a variety of image styles, and then it’s a lot of listening, taking notes, taking into account their replies and answers and asking if there are any artefacts or things that mean a lot to them and that they want to include in the design. We then look at the budget and how we can create a design which has both taking onboard how they would enjoy living in their home and then I take the stress out of the overwhelming options that were presented to them by narrowing down what we can create in a visual to incorporate they design within the architecture of their home in a style which is going to enhance their lives.
COMMON MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN DESIGNING OR DECORATING THEIR HOMES, AND HOW CAN THEY BE AVOIDED?
A common mistake people make when decorating their homes is that they paint everything white, and I feel it’s a missed opportunity. They pay for the decorator to paint the skirtings, the coving, the ceiling, and all of the walls in white, and then it takes them some time to settle into the home. When they’ve done that, it’s then more difficult to get the decorator to return.
They end up living in this stark white space which in some contemporary homes might be okay, but mainly painting their walls from the beginning in a warmer, softer, neutral colour, I would have said I would have been a better spend of their money and something which doesn’t feel so stark and bare. So I think white and contemporary with minimal style can work, but that’s not most people’s style.
So therefore, I feel as though when the decorator goes into a new space, they should be painting with a neutral colour as a base from the outset. It would save time, money and effort from the beginning.
THE BIGGEST MYTH ABOUT INTERIOR DESIGNERS THAT NEEDS TO BE DEBUNKED
To me, designers are beneficial and valuable people. I mean, I would say that what needs to be debunked about the fact that interior design can be expensive is that if my clients were to go to furniture showrooms and purchase their furniture, they would spend more than what they do with me as I share my trade discount, so my fee is included with the discount that they get. So, they’re still actually saving money.
When clients work with me, they save money and get someone who’s been working in the furniture industry for 20 years. Plus, they don’t have to deal with the communication; they have a scheme presented to them which is cohesive and understands their needs, so it’s a real win-win at a certain level to instruct and collaborate with a designer as it’s way less stress, way better delivery of a home and they spend less than what they would do if they went directly to a furniture retail store or a trade showroom. So, I think that comprehensively debunks any myth about interior designers being too expensive.
STAYING UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST DESIGN TRENDS, TECHNIQUES, AND RESOURCES TO RELY ON FOR INSPIRATION?
I stay updated with the latest trends and techniques by attending trade shows, events and London showrooms. In addition, whenever I go away, I go to showrooms abroad.
I have resources such as magazines and Instagram. But, still, the actual design trends, there’s the Milan fair, the Paris Maison et Objet in January, where I saw some fantastic new ways to design wallpaper, for example, and I think that variety is significant.
Different brands, different event types, and different literature with magazines and social media are my plethora of design inspirations incoming.
ADVICE FOR ASPIRING INTERIOR DESIGNERS WHO ARE JUST STARTING IN THE INDUSTRY?
I advise young designers starting out to try to narrow down where their passion lies within the design industry. For example, I have lots of people asking me for internships. They say: “I just love interior design”, but actually, I would find it more compelling if they were to say, “I am interested in residential design; I love how wallpaper can be an art form in the space”, for example.
That would engage me more with them and let me know where to start with them. There are various types of design, such as commercial, office, residential, hospitality, restaurants… And I think that it would be advantageous for young designers to know what sector they want to go into and whether they like the layouts, the form, the details, the design of the colour blends, just for them to start conversations with someone or for them to focus their minds and then for it to grow from there.