Hello and welcome to my show notes for the second episode in the tenth season of the Great Indoors podcast. First off, I just wanted to say thanks to all you listeners for sticking with us and to our fabulous producer Kate Taylor from Feast Collective for making these episodes happen via our duvet dens once again.
For today’s jam-packed episode, with another UK lockdown beginning to get the better of us, we thought we would make this episode all about the easy wins. No leaving the house, so getting in the trades, indeed no shopping! And if all that still feels like too much hard work, we explore online interior design services or e-design so you can get someone else to do all the hard work for you. You can catch the full episode here.
Let’s face it, we could all do with some easy wins right now! I have to say, I feel there is a different energy this time, than the first lockdown last Spring. I felt that last time everyone went into hyper-drive, from home decorating, baking to power yoga, I was exhausted just watching the social media feeds. This time the pace is slower and we are taking a more gentle approach and I would hope, being kinder to ourselves. However, Kate is the opposite as she has finally pulled her ginger out and has some big decorting jobs on, and the trades in her home, and wel…. it’s making her rather grumpy. I know! More than usual!
So in order to keep things simple, it’s all about finding joy in the smallest things. For me, a naturally messy person, I’ve discovered that having a really good tidy up can make all the difference to my state of mind. It’s that old ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ chestnut. From working up a sweat vigorously hoovering or clearing out all your kitchen cupboards, housework and tidying not only gives you a workout which is a mood booster, but also a lovely sense of calm when everything is in it’s place. One simple daily ritual I have taken on is to tidy the kitchen and wash the pots everynight as there’s nothing better than coming down to a kitchen that’s all in order. It’s the small things that can make you feel like you are winning at the start of the day.
Simply slowing down your morning and evening routine can really make a difference to your state of mind. I have started on a stack of books and I’m loving it. My favourite so far is Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty who shares what he learnt when he lived with monks in India and how we can apply aspects to modern-day living. The monks wake up at 4 am every day – he’s not expecting that – but the idea is having a gentle start to the day helps towards positivity for the rest of the day. I was guilty of the mad rush in the morning but now I set my alarm one hour before my husband and son get up so I have that time for myself and I’m LOVING it! I finally have some ‘me-time’.
Having a good clear out and moving things that aren’t in their place can be very therapeutic and room by room I’m taking this on during lockdown. Kate recently did a campaign with recycleyourelectricals.org where she discovered if it has a plug on it, you can recycle it. She is very pleased to be back with her renowned statistics – their study found that there are 140m cables in homes across the UK – enough to go round the earth five times over. Isn’t that shocking!
And if you love a stat as much as Kate- here they are again! Laptops are another problem with an estimated 31million of them currently sitting in UK homes doing nothing. They could have been broken down and recycled meaning 980,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions would have been saved which is the equivalent of taking 458,000 cars off the road. Buckle up, nother stat coming… did you know that 75% of materials in small electrical goods can be recycled, including gold, silver aluminium and steel. So if those 31m laptops had been recycled, there would be:
So clear out your old electricals, tidy house, tidy mind and you’d be doing your bit for the planet too. Check out this website for an electrical recycling center near you.
Shopping your home
We’ve covered this topic before, but it’s always worth a re-visit. One of my favourite styling hacks is a tray – on an ottoman, side table, dressing table or bedside table. Now we’re not talking plates, it has to have raised edges and is just a great place to hold pleasing ‘objets.’ They are a great opportunity to create a styling moment and are practical too.
Vases are another way of having some styling fun, move them around, re-group them, have different shapes and sizes and place in odd numbers. You could even spray paint them inside with enamel spray paint, as a great way to revamp and recycle old bottles or vases and add some colour.
Now we are spending more time together at home and most of us are missing being able to head out for dinner, why not bring the restaurant home. Elevate your home and put out your best china, napkins, dinner candles and why not put on a favourite frock and a touch of lippy.
Switch it up
Think about your throws, cushions, rugs and just switch them around. I moved my living room rug to the office and it made the room feel totally different and it really helps if you have your red thread in place – we’ve mentioned this quite a few times on the podcast! Interior stylist Emily Henson has been doing this since many of her shoots have been cancelled, she’s done a fantastic job at keeping up with creativity, check out her Instagram feed @lifeunstyled for some inspo.
You could change your bedding, there are so many wonderful patterned choices at the moment and it feels the right time to go for a bit of cosiness and nostalgia.
Let’s now look forward and if you are at your wit’s end not being able to get out and do a bit of shopping, why not try some vision boarding, hop on Pinterest and feel inspired.
Since lockdown, whether we like it or not technology has been or saviour as we are reliant on our screens more than ever. Look at us, recording this podcast via our laptops, Zoom and fluffy mic in hand. We have all had to adapt to this new way of life and traditional interior designers who are used to offering a face-to-face service are having to pivot to remote consultations.
Kate spoke to Vanessa Agyemang of Copper Dust after spotting her on Insta and offering an e-design service and wondered how it was going. Vanessa said she launched the service back in 2019 but it didn’t come to anything. Now, of course, it has become very popular and she has redesigned her offering to include e-design. Many of her clients need to transform a room into a multi-purpose space and is working really well as it is one room and not a full-on renovation.
She also caught up with Fiona Duke of Fiona Duke Interiors and she said that e-design was not for her. She needs the interaction – if the wifi goes down or glitches you might miss certain things in reality, like the clients’ reactions and sensing the atmosphere if you are on the right path. She feels e-design is about finding quick answers rather than travelling through the design together.
I totally get that, as part of the process with an interior designer is your relationship with the client and there is a certain amount of psychology involved and getting know personalities and preferences.
Kate also chatted with Emilie Fournet who was quite sceptical, to begin with, but is quite enjoying the variety of working remotely. She said, ” I’ve seen how a remote 2-hour consultation can pretty much solve most problems people have with their interiors providing it’s planned properly.”
One thing I took away from this process is that is much more affordable than a traditional interior designer, saving time and money and for those who are busy there’s the convenience too. To be clear, this is for one room, I’m not talking about a designer taking on a whole house, including architecture and moving walls!
This is also being embraced bu the big companies, Neptune, known for their gorgeous kitchens, bathrooms, furniture and accessories, have long offered an interior design service – with a shopping list for their products. They now offer an online service and also have a video showing how to do your measurements correctly and hold your hand throughout the process.
Do your professional designers find it difficult to read somebody?
“e-Design doesn’t mean it’s not personal, we can build a personal repour with an easy online brief, video calls or phone calls are important to dig a little deeper and nail those details. Communication is absolutely key so for us, we have a chat feature so designers and customers can chat back and forth.”
What about the lack of a home visit, how do you get around getting a sense for the sense?
“We ask customers for a video, from coming through the front door, we ask for lots of photos and check out Google Earth to see if North facing etc. I think technology has broken down those barriers.”
People do worry about taking their own measurements, how do you help with that?
“We have a handy measuring guide and a video explaining how to take room measurements and there are also some great apps to download. We also remind customers to remember to measure all those access points which are really important too.”
How does the fee structure work, you offer a set fee to design a room, is there any markup on the products you sell?
“We pioneered flat fee room packages and we’re really open with the prices and you add on extra hours if you wanted. We make most of our money from the trade discount we get when customers buy furniture, but importantly we share some the discount back to the customer.”
You’re launching Design Pal Pro, tell me about that.
“We spent a lot of time developing some tech that sits in the background. The designer spends about 80% of their time on admin, which is crazy, so our tech has automated a lot of what they do, it pulls out all of the different products from retailers automatically. So imagine a super-charged Google for interior design, all curated with the best products.”
Are you finding your customers are conscious about sustainability and are you able to advise them?
“It’s something we are seeing more of and we are big advocates of asking whether there are pieces in the home to upcycle and keep, so mixing the old and new. Some retailers are better at providing sustainable products than others so there’s a bit of catching up to do.”
* My Bespoke Room is offering a 10% discount on their design packages, see below for details.
A huge thanks to Laura for the insight into the world of e-design, Kate Taylor our fab producer and a big high five to all of you over on our Facebook group which is alive as ever, with lots of interior inspiration, advice and creativity.
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