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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Finding the Light

I was chatting with our Project Manager this afternoon when she mentioned in passing that she had recommend a potential client look at my blog before she even thought to mentioned my website (which is lucky as it's not ready, yet...). 

A couple of things she mentioned liking about this blog are that 'it's generously spirited' and that I don't ever try to sell my work to my readers. Of course, it's always great when people get what you're about but it made me think about why I don't share my work with you, more? You know, chat about what I do and how I do it?

And so, earlier this evening I popped in to see a client who's project I had completed a while back (he has asked me to do other sections of the house, this time). It was such a pleasure to see the place in much the same state that I left it. I took this photograph of the bathroom storage area that I conceptualised (furniture designer & maker Claire Darwent designed and built it out of solid Iroko - this wood was once science school desks) and I wanted to show it to you because I think it's a very clever use of space. 

There is not a straight wall in this house and so Claire had a job on her hands getting it to work but doesn't it look great? I love the warm wood against the cool charcoal (metallic) wall tiles. 

What I love most about this project is how well it flows - you may have heard of this term. Flow relates to how light (and colour) moves through the home and it has everything to do with good spatial layout. Achieving a good flow is one of the most important things to get right when designing an interior.

A little known fact: for a year, whilst completing my studies at Saint Martins, I worked as a florist - much like interior design, it's not nearly as glamorous as it may sound but knowing how to arrange flowers is such a useful skill. In fact, I've found that there are a number of 'transferable skills' between being a chef, a florist and an interior designer. Working with colour is an obvious one but really, time management is king.


I selected and commissioned most of the art in this house. The architectural paintings are the work of Beth Louise Walker. Just how talented is she?! I love these paintings - she also did the life drawings, above. (Beth is a delight to work with and a wonderful friend, too.)

This handrail was originally painted white and once we stripped it down we found out why... (Luckily, it was nothing a little restorative work couldn't fix.) Now, it's a defining feature of the house. We also stripped the (yellow toned) Maple floors and applied a walnut finish.

Do you see the how the light and colour palettes, in each room, connect?  What do you think? Does it work for you? And whilst we're here, what hidden skills do you have? I'm curious...


  1. Some great pics there a distinction between 'flow' and 'feng-shui'? They seem like similar concepts but maybe there are differences?

  2. Love the hits of pink, beautiful house! And I say promote, promote, promote :)

  3. Beautiful work! I like the mix of textures in the bathroom and the light throughout the house is gorgeous. The subtle accents of pink are lovely. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

  4. It is a strange pleasure to get to look at the work of another designer but actually have to foot notes to get a real feel of the direction.

    I really love how the design works so well to bring the space to life. Light floods the rooms and with light you get a real feel for the depth of selected colours.

    I adore the bathroom. The custom cabinetry that wraps around the door is a stroke of genius. I love how it provides storage/shelving with easy access from the bath – now there is a perfect home to put the candles and soap. The mix of the warm wood and cool metallic grey is just so cool. I love seeing a bathroom with so much practical storage that easy to access yet able to create the wow factor. I really like the hidden storage tucked in beside the sink – perfect solution to keep the bench top uncluttered.

    The wallpaper in the bedroom with its dark green and gold is divine. It is so cool to see the very regal bed head with it. It makes such an impressive statement! Is it just me or does the top right picture by Beth Louise Walker work so well with this overall bedroom scheme? What a sensational artist! I am really taken by her life drawings.

    What I love them most is the real attention to detail – for example no obvious handles on the bathroom cabinetry create such beautiful clean lines. The mirror frame in the bathroom works so well with the regal bed head (as for that matter do the wall paper & tiles).

    It is a timeless design that works with the space to create something that appears both practical to live in whilst remaining stylish and really cool.

  5. I really enjoyed reading this post and having a look at one of your projects. Like someone else said its fascinating to have an insight into other designer's work and their thinking behind it. Love the art you have selected throughout too- especially architectual paintings and how you've put them all in different frames.

  6. @Maria you're very good at promoting your work and you do it in a way that always, always serves the reader, first. Masterful!

    @oneagracenote - thank you so much.

    Oliver - wow, mega-comment! I feel we could probably talk for hours, you and I. Thank you for your thorough appraisal (you've very good at that, by the way - I've clocked your comments, elsewhere). First off, I feel the urge to point out that the main bed was not my choice. As I tend to work closely with clients who are very involved in the process (and that's just how I like it), I am thrilled that they love it so much. However, this is where I was really going with that room:

    Really, it needed a clean line, I feel the ornate lines compete with the wallpaper. But, as you know, working with clients to create their dream homes means that sometimes a room will find it's own destination and that's OK because it's not about me/the designer.

    I started the project with a tiny brief: two MASSIVE framed Peter Lik photographs (brought to life with specialist lighting). The only word to describe them is monolithic and really, they set the tone. It's a very nice home to be in, actually - great light.

    @Sophie - thank you, that's very kind. You and I work in very different ways (possibly different markets, too?). I just love the way you address surface areas creating completely new environments. It's really impressive.

  7. Beautiful Heather. As always. xx

  8. Did you take all these photographs Heather? They are beautiful.You have an excellent eye.

  9. Heather, please show us more of your work. It is beautiful and it is really nice to read advice from a pro producing wonderful work.

    Amanda xxx

  10. gorgoeus work heather. i love the quiet nature of all the inputs and how well they gel together. sign of a brilliant designer - when it looks like natural anthology. brilliant!

  11. I love your style. Truly. When you showed a previous project (I think from memory it had a purple somethingorother in it??) I remember thinking how super talented you were. And now with these, the talent is definately super - but your interiors are the epitomy of style, reserved glamour, a perfect mix of creativity and functionality. You only add what is needed and the way you add luxury to everyday rooms just makes me smile. Oh I wish I was super rich and lived over thataway, I would hire you to design my interiors and forever live a happy life.

    Oh, and my hidden talent. I make a really good focaccia. Got one in the oven as I type (-:

  12. That first image is so stunning. What a great project. Handsome & clean.

  13. Hi Heather

    I enjoy reading your blog because of the way you mix writing about specific projects and the inspiration that drives you. I find it much more interesting to read about the way you work and see original pictures than see the same magazine shoots endlessly being repeated. Promote, but be yourself.

    I admire your style. I like the way the muted tones and flashes of white are carried throughout the house. I wish I had thought of my house as a whole instead of as a collection of different rooms when I was designing it.

    hidden talent. I am a master of the art of a good cup of tea.

  14. Donna - yes, most of these (last one on the left is pro. I think) Thank you, I do take hundreds, though...

    Amanda - heady praise coming from you, thank you so much!

    Jules - natural anthology? I had to Google that. Thanks so much for your very lovely words.

    Linda - Yes, you're right, there was a deep aubergine (never purple!) armchair in the Liverpool Rd project. You know, I have a feeling we'd work brilliantly together. Thanks so much for your gorgeous comment. And making foccacia, well, is a serious talent.

    Faberuna - I'm so thrilled to be connected with you; thanks to Michaela (from PARGY) for connecting the dots. I know that the DBC members are excited by the potential presented, here.

    Bill - ah, mastering a good cup of tea is kind of a big deal. In fact, between you and me, I judge those who don't care enough to do it well. But seriously, that was a lovely comment, Thank you so much. You know that it's not difficult to 'reconnect' rooms that have been individually designed? It really is a case of connecting colour and light - introducing a central accent colour and you're halfway there. That said, having seen some of your work, I'll bet it's gorgeous.

  15. I'm far too obsessed with the flow of our house at the moment. IT's making me stall forEVER with our living room. Grrrr.

    I know when I get it right it'll be so beautiful but I'm finding paint colour choice elusive currently.

    I really liked your post below - but you missed out Mizzle as F&B's best new colour (IMHO!!). ;-)


  16. I love the title... Finding the Light. Because, obviously you are finding your light. I know, from my own experience that it's hard to beat ones own drum, but the world wants to hear us, so sing it, girl!!! Such talent!

    Such a lovely post. Thank you. For the first time, I am now thinking about the flow of light through a space and not just color.

  17. Wow you are a very talented girl - absolutely beautiful! Where do you get that light in the first pic, absolutely droolsome!

  18. Beautiful work, I love that bathroom! Such a smart way to make some storage around the door like that.

  19. Great flow, details and flowers! I used to work in a florist store as well. I shy away from self promotion as well even though I really need to do more of it. It's a tightrope walk isn't it? I cringe at others who really push it but I think you are finding the right mix.

  20. Hi - it's me again. I just wanted to write this now as knowing me I might forget come Monday when I am back in the studio (OK, it's only 12 steps from where I am sitting now - but it IS like 33 hours till I get there again).

    If you are still doing your website - but stuck for either inspiration or budget - let me know as I am just doing my new graphic design (not OEKE) site via this free template driven site - and it really doesn't look that bad.

    Email me if you need the details OK (-:

  21. i love that bathroom!!


  22. Everything looks beautiful, warm and inviting. Well done! Many moons ago you commented on painting/staining our banister and I can see why! I love how the banister adds depth to the space. Have a happy weekend:)

  23. beautiful hints of pink! well done. have a wonderful weekend!

  24. LOVE your work! ...and funny thing, I just stumbled across your blog today and I just did a guest post last Friday at A Graceful Home ( about the Caboche Lamp in your first picture...obviously, I'm liking your taste! :) I'm a follower now...great blog!

  25. I really love this project, the colours are very cohesive and beautiful and the details are really elegant. I love the handrail, it really is a defining feature, amazing how damaged they get isn't it?! I'm new to your blog, but really love it, it's so interesting to see another London based interior designers perspective.
    xo Sarah

  26. I liked the way you connected the work of an interior designer, florist and a cook. Yes they all work with colors...

  27. I like how the space was maximized although the stairs is a bit narrow. The pieces fits the corners and the interior is relaxing.


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