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Category: Interior design tips

  1. SUSTAINABLE SPECIFICATION GUIDE for interior designers

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    The Sustainable Specification Guide which I co-wrote with my fellow committee members from the British Institute of Interior Design was launched at the brilliant Planted design show at Kings Cross, London.

    I was so fortunate to have an excellent grounding in sustainable design during my time at The Body Shop HQ for 10 years from the mid nineties. I have loved helping my clients with more conscious specifications for the interiors I have designed for them. In recent years though - I have realised it's my fellow designers who I really want to influence in order to have a real impact for making much needed change in our industry.

    A year and a half ago, past BIID President @HarrietForde invited me to join the Professional Practice Committee for the professional body.

    In that short time - the committee (designers Liz Bell, Anna Whitehead, Simone Suss, Angela Bardino, Brian Woulfe) and the excellent BIID team lead by Katherine Elworthy, have delivered....

    -  updated Code Of Conduct for members - incorporating sustainability and modern slavery

    -  the Sustainability Strategy for the BIID up to 2024

    - Guidance on assessing our practice’s carbon footprint

    -  Guidance on reducing and offsetting our practice’s carbon emissions

    Sustainable Specification Guide - a live document which will be updated yearly

    -  a growing Continuing Professional Development programme to support the new guide


    Sustainability is an inherent part of this excellent professional body - as it should be.

    I’m extremely grateful to BIID past president Lori Pinkerton Rolet for her support during my almost 16 years in business - but mostly for encouraging me to be an active member of this organisation. 

    I think #AnitaRoddick would be delighted to see her influence spreading to other businesses like this. 

    More of this please!


    Download the guide here Sustainable Specification Guide

  2. The importance of a furniture layout

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    How to measure the space


    I hope the list of decisions needed for a project that I gave last week helped you to visualise all the decisions to make on your project.  It might feel a bit overwhelming but great to see them listed and I hope it prompts you.

    The other hugely vital point was the importance of a furniture layout.  If you put the effort into designing out mistakes at the drawing stage it will save you money and wasted time - and will be so much less stressful.  


    Measure your space as accurately as you can. I have a guide that will help you which you can download here.  Measure the floor area and doors & windows.  Get the wall areas in between windows measured correctly.  Add socket, switch and lighting positions.    Draw all this on grid paper.  Measure any fixed items such as fireplace and add.  Measure items of furniture you’d like to go in the space - whether existing or new.  You could draw the footprint of these items and cut them out so you can play around with options.  Or overlay a sheet of tracing paper.  If you are introducing only a few new items into the space - then use newspaper or cupboard and measure out the exact space. Seeing the space in 3 dimensions early on will help you to feel more sure about the work. If you are drawing the floor plan - have a look at elevations where things are happening on walls - check they work in relation to each other. 


    It doesn’t matter how you do it - use the method which works best for you.  


    • How is the flow/circulation through the space?
    • How is the view into the space from the adjoining space?
    • Are you making the most of any nice views outside and maximising daylight? 


    Are you looking at large items in your design?  

    1. Look at whether they are delivered in one piece or not

    2. Look at your door sizes (including the front door)

    3. Look at the hallways, staircases and any turns need to get the item into the room


    Please do this before going too far with your design and DEFINATELY before you order!  We want to design out mistakes!


    Now look at your furniture layout in conjunction to existing sockets, switches and lighting.

    Is everything easy to access?  Are any sockets covered up that need repositioning or new sockets adding?  Is the lighting going to light the right areas or do you need a rethink?  Would the space benefit from some different types of lighting with this new arrangement.  How often do you use the central pendant light?  Could you use layered, low level lighting instead - table lamps?


    • Can you still reach the window to pull down blinds/drawer curtains?
    • Is any heating clear of obstructions?  Have ugly radiators appeared that now need addressing?
    • Imagine using the space.  Have you got enough storage for real life living?  Can you factor in anything that will improve the day to day use of the space?
    • Have you had a rethink about a new item?  Update the drawing just to be sure of the fit.


    I can’t stress how important this is to do if you want to plan the project well.  You will thank me for encouraging you!  It’s good to know any knock on effects early on as it all affects budget and we all know that’s when it becomes stressful.  I really hope this helps you!


    Can you see parts of the process you’d like to do yourself and other parts you really don’t want to do?

    That’s where I can help.  I can help you on the parts you need help with.  

    A TWO HOUR CONSULTATION can happen in-person (in Brighton & Hove area) or online.   

    In addition to two hour consultations - time can be pre-purchased in 10 hour or 20 hour blocks.  

  3. What decisions are needed to stay one step ahead?

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    In my blog last week I talked about a project that started as fun for a client but quickly became overwhelming and no longer fun.

    I don’t want clients to be hard on themselves.  There are a HUGE amount of decisions to make. Even if looking at a room or two.  Being organised and one step ahead will save costly mistakes and will alleviate stress.  It IS possible to enjoy the process!  But an early understanding of the types of decisions needed will prepare you.


    Perhaps if I list the decisions it will help!

    (deep breath...!)

    1. Look at the space - could flow be improved, are door positions good? are views out of windows optimised,  how are the views within the building?  use of skylights, best positioning of the space for maximum daylight? 

    2. The space in conjunction with the furniture.  Choosing the furniture and getting it on a furniture layout - get it on paper with the exact furniture you are using.

    3. Audio visual - much of this is furniture layout dependent - at the very least - is a TV involved?  Where will it go?

    4. Lighting and sockets need to correspond to that furniture layout

    5. Lighting decisions - functional as well as aesthetics and correct lamp selection

    6. Heating and cooling….  At the least - what type of heating - what does it look like - where do radiators fit in with the furniture layout?  (are you getting that the furniture layout is so important?!) 

    7. Home automation - if you are having it, this is the time to get this factored in while walls and floors are open.  Made your home super energy efficiency with lighting sensors, temperature control, window shading as well as security

    8. Flooring decisions - choosing a specification that is right for the space AND the right aesthetic.

    9. Timber selection floors, furniture

    10. Woodwork - door types and designs, skirting, door frames

    11. Metal finishes: sockets, switches, handles, door furniture, taps  - plus what shapes are they all?

    12. Sanitaryware - WC, basin, bath, shower, enclosure, 

    13. Brassware - taps, shower fittings 

    14. Wall and ceiling finishes 

    15. Tile 

    16. Appliances, equipment 

    17. Fabric selection for soft seating, window coverage

    18. Window coverage type and operation

    19. Artwork 

    20. Decorative items 


    Even an interior designer will not have the answers for all of the items on the list.  But we know specialists to use and we can guide you through the process.  

    I realise not everyone has the budget for this.  Plus there are parts of this process that clients really enjoy doing themselves.  I don’t want to take the fun bits away from clients!

    Can you see parts of the process you’d like to do yourself and other parts you really don’t want to do?

    That’s where I can help.  I can help you on the parts you need help with.  


    A TWO HOUR CONSULTATION can happen in-person (in Brighton & Hove area) or online.   

    In addition to two hour consultations - time can be pre-purchased in 10 hour or 20 hour blocks.