Mar 31, 2015

A question of style

Interior designer Caroline Weston gives us an insight into her world and shares her invaluable tips on to how to style your home and achieve the interior wow factor



What made you want to become an interior designer?

It’s something I was always interested in. When I left school, I took the first job I could and worked out what I enjoyed and what I was good at. Things are very different now from how they were; today’s school leavers have to plan their careers. I started in theatre and television and got to know producers in the business. I branched out from there into event management for shows such as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. People seemed to like what I did and told me: “If you go into business as an interior designer, I’ll be your first client.” So I did!

Where do you go to find inspiration?

So many places! I get samples of the new collections from all of the fabric houses but I also visit antiques fairs, I read a lot, I love to travel – hotels and restaurants are always great for inspiration. I also feel very comfortable experimenting with style.  I never just go for the safe option; it means I maintain a passion for what I’m doing.

What’s the next big thing in interior design?

It’s driven by sales. So if monochrome and minimalism was popular, then the next big thing will be the opposite; bright colours and busy shapes. For example, in the fashion industry, women’s watches have gone from being large and almost masculine, to being tiny and delicate. It means the industry always has something new to sell each season. In the property market, the themes seem to last longer, but they are still sales-driven.

Do you see any trends in specific areas?

I’ve just finished an apartment in New York and I’m always struck by the fact that the industry doesn’t operate on set trends within a particular area or even country. My golden rule is to always try to be sympathetic to the property but the biggest factor is the client. If they say: “I know what I want”, you find that they are open to suggestions and ideas. If they say: “I don’t know what I want so I chose you because I like what you do”, you find they have the strongest opinions. I’ve been doing this now for 17 years and that’s the only trend that’s consistent!

What three things can property owners do to add value and dress their property for sale?

Firstly, make sure it is clean and tidy. It sounds simple but removing clutter and highlighting the storage space is very important.

Secondly, make the property as bright as possible; if you have curtains and blinds, take them down. Buyers, without exception, want a light and airy property so the more daylight the better.

Finally, understand the property you are selling and who you are marketing it to. If it is a family home, the décor should reflect that. If it is a one bedroom flat in the centre of London, your buyers will most probably be young professionals so the interior style should appeal to that group.

If you were selling a property and you could only improve one room, which would it be and why?

The kitchen. It’s usually a make or break with buyers. That’s because it costs the most to update. The second room that buyers consider to require the most work is the bathroom but the kitchen by far is the more expensive of the two.

When you are undertaking a commission for a private client, how does your approach differ from undertaking a corporate project?

My approach doesn’t really change. To be honest, it all depends on the client brief. For example, I can have a private client that gives me carte blanche and a corporate client that is emotionally involved in the project. The main focus for me is to ensure the property looks the best it can for the budget.

What advice would you give to landlords about décor; do you think it’s better to keep things plain or make a bold statement with the interior?

It’s best to keep it bright, clean and generic. This last point is very important; don’t add too much of your own style. I always say, “You might love whacky flower prints but they may not be everyone’s taste!”

What interior design rules should never be broken?

There are no rules as such, but there are some oddities. For example, large furniture in a small room makes it look bigger (as long as it fits!) and a splash of black is very grounding. It doesn’t have to be much; usually a small table or lamp can do the trick.

Caroline Weston can be contacted at caroline@weston-design.com

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