The Managing Director of Voyage Interiors speaks to Showhome about her experiences in design and the company’s ethos
• How did you get into interior design?
I grew up with entrepreneurial parents; my mum was a couture bridal wear designer & my dad had a property renovation company, so interior design was the perfect combination of the skills I inherited!
I started my career as a junior designer, and then worked for Bovis Homes as an in-house designer for 2 years until I was made redundant at the start of the recession. I made the most of the situation by providing freelance services to large interior design agencies before setting up Voyage in 2009 and I haven’t looked back since.
• What or who are your inspirations?
I find inspiration for design schemes in everyday things; it could be fashion, architecture, or nature. Staying on top of the trends is key, so I try to implement my inspiration with current trends to create an up-to-date scheme.
• How does the design process begin?
Every design process starts with a briefing. We find out the ins and outs of the project, from budgets, styles & timescales down to the finer details, we then produce a concept or a series of design boards for our clients & once that is approved we set to work to get everything ready for the install.
• What tips can you recommend to update a home this spring?
I would recommend not being too led by seasonal trends; the consumer magazines will be full of spring colours, such as green and yellow, which will feel dated, come winter.
• If there is one trend we should invest in spring, what should it be?
Mixing old with new! This was the most prominent trend at Maison et Objet in Paris. You would be surprised at how easy this scheme is to adapt into a new build. It’s all about Interior Design with character, which is something that new furniture often lacks. You may have a rustic oak dining table with contemporary chairs, with chrome styling.
• What advice would you give to new home/first time buyers on how to start choosing interiors?
I would advise to ‘invest in the base’ of the scheme, just as you would with a little black dress or a smart suit, then accessorise around it. Start with a neutral base; by this we don’t mean magnolia to all walls; start with an off white or ivory & instead of using patterns, use lots of texture to create depth and warmth. You can then add accent colours with accessories & cushions, which you can change easily, so your home becomes timeless & adaptable with new trends.
• Does your work have a signature style and feel?
Every job we do is different, whether it is a country house or a penthouse apartment, but there are some aspects that remain consistent throughout our schemes, for example we rarely use bold patterned curtains as they are too personal & tend to date too quickly. Texture is something that plays a big part in every one of our schemes, a plain silk wallpaper just feels so much more luxurious than a painted wall.
• What is the most frustrating aspect of your job?
When suppliers over promise and under-deliver; so much so, that it has become our company ethos never to do this. We have built great relationships over the years with suppliers who understand this, so we are rarely let down & we build in contingencies just incase something unforeseeable happens.
• And the most rewarding one?
Definitely seeing a project come together & hearing feedback from our clients. It is truly satisfying to hear a development has sold out since the show home opened or to hear a client say their house feels like their home after many years of living there.
• Tell me about your personal style?
My style is classic contemporary, which is adaptable to the schemes we design, whether it be ultra contemporary or traditional. If I were to sum up my personal style in three words it would be classy, chic and timeless.
• What is the style in your home?
I live in an Edwardian house; it is full of character and it feels like my home, it’s different to any of the schemes I have worked on for clients. We have original floorboards & open fires, its a very welcoming home, not one where our friends have to worry about their children’s sticky fingers!
• Has the economy had an impact on your business?
I set up the company in 2009 in the midst of the recession; I thought if I could make it work at that difficult time, then the business would go from strength to strength as things improved. It was difficult to start with as many developers were cautious about using new suppliers & understandably they wanted to remain true to their current suppliers. In the interim we worked on high-end private client projects which has been beneficial for us as we can now offer design services to a wider range of clients, from budget show homes, to bespoke high end schemes for higher end developers and private clients.
• What has been the most challenging project thus far?
Last year we project-managed the interior design of a large country house; the client was a Premiership footballer who scheduled a launch party to reveal the new house to over 100 people upon completion! We lived & breathed the project for 7 months, and it was hugely rewarding at the end to see it all finished, as it reflected the client’s personality so well.