10 Beautiful Rooms

Morning, morning and finally we are properly back with our usual Monday 10 Beautiful Rooms slot.This week it’s 10 rooms with a difference. All the spaces shown below were created by a new venture called The Interior Design Collective, a nationwide group of specially selected interior designers based all over the UK.

Dark Walls Little Green Wallpaper styled and photographed by Karen Knox of Making Spaces
Styled and photographed by Karen Knox of Making Spaces as part of The Interior Design Collective

The collective was the brainchild of Karen Knox, a Leeds-based designer who has appeared on these pages before with a post on how to plan your decorating budget, and Fiona Duke, who lives in Essex. Having met on social media they realised that they were both getting constant requests for their services from people who lived hundreds of miles away and it just wasn’t possible to help people in Wales or Devon with the demands of small children and an already full professional diary.

designed by Fiona Duke Interiors shown on The Interior Design Collective
designed by Fiona Duke Interiors based in Essex

But, they realised, while they couldn’t help individually, they could help as part of a collective. And so the hunt began to find designers who shared their aesthetic and ideals in every corner of the country. So far they have signed up 13 designers, ten of whose work you see featured here. They are all designers working in real homes with real budgets. This is not interior design for the Chelsea set.

I can tell you that the green chair in the top bedroom is from and the tiles in Fiona’s bathroom design above are the Laura Ashley range from Homebase.

blue kitchen by cathy dean interior design
blue kitchen by cathy dean interior design from Northumberland

This gorgeous kitchen was created by Cathy Dean, who is based in Northumberland. The carcasses are from Ikea and her local cabinet maker created new fronts for them. The IDC plans to grow their base to around 30 designers by the end of the year all fulfilling these same design ideals.

born and bred studio via interior design collective
born and bred studio is London-based

Karen said: “We both really wanted to break the stereotype that hiring an interior designer is only for a select few. We felt there was a real gap in the market for creative and accessible design across the whole of the UK.

“Interiors is the new fashion for the 30-50 something crowd and we’re all sharing our homes on instagram and websites. But it’s hard to find a designer that is approachable and accessible and we know this because we have spent the last four months looking.

cheshire interior design via the interior design collective
cheshire interior design via the interior design collective”

“And if we find it hard how is the average person with kids and a job and a busy life supposed to find the time to hunt through endless websites and Houzz accounts?”

The IDC gives people a local person to contact and, by hiring someone from the collective, you are also accessing the hive mind as they are all in regular contact and likely to bounce ideas off each other sharing knowledge and experience.

green kitchen tiles via Emilie Fournet
green kitchen tiles via Emilie Fournet who works in and around London

Karen has tried to work remotely and admits that E-design is a rapidly growing area for many interior designers but says you can’t beat a face to face consultation, especially when it comes to larger projects.

“I often get inquiries from London, Cumbria and Essex and this way I can pass them onto someone who I know shares my ideals and ethos and charges.

blue kitchen by houseofjoan
blue kitchen by houseofjoan in North Yorkshire

“We find them so you don’t have to.”

At the time of writing the collective includes designers in Leeds, Essex, Devon, Northumberland, Swansea, Cambridge, Yorkshire, Berkshire and Cheshire.

So the purpose of this post is twofold. If you need help with a project and think that one of these designers might be local (ish) to you or if you are designer who would like to join the collective then get in touch with them.

calm pink bedroom by no8project design which is based in Swansea

As Lisa, of London-based Born and Bred, says: “After a career in fashion I made the transition to interiors and felt there was a disconnect between the traditional world and the average family who really care about their surroundings but understand that kids will scribble on walls and wine will get split on velvet sofas.

“They don’t own a town house in Belgravia or travel on a private jet but they’re busy and they want nice things and a nice space for themselves. We embrace modest family homes.”

kitchen by studio morton
kitchen by studio morton in London

Or sisters House of Joan, based in North Yorkshire, who pride themselves on using antique and vintage furniture to create appealing and workable homes for modern families. This is interior design for real people. That’s us.

I hope you have enjoyed strolling through today’s selection of rooms. It’s great to be back with you all.

dark grey kitchen by siobhan hayles in Devon

As the collective expands the idea is to run workshops and open houses to open up the process still further.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. All of these pictures are amazing and so inspiring!! I moved into a new build just over a year ago and have been itching to change things but with a brand new kitchen and bathroom already installed it feels like a waste to rip them out and start again.. but as and when I do I will definitely check these guys out!

  2. Gosh, just reading those words “We embrace modest family homes.” made me feel less intimidated about even wanting to have a lovely (and modest!) home. Brilliant idea – a lot like the “Architect Your Home” network, by the sounds of it.

    Please, please tell me where those fab green tiles (via Emilie Fournet) came from: they are exactly what I’ve been looking for, for one wall in my shower cubicle.

  3. Such a clever idea! Thank you for sharing. Have been putting off refurbing our bathroom because it needs a proper designer to configure the tiny space in best way but I’ve struggled to find anyone suitable near me. Will definitely check this out.

  4. Morning Kate. Nice to see you’re back. I love the above post and find it very interesting. My daughter is just finishing an Interior Design course and I was wondering how she could get in touch with someone to enquire about maybe joining the collective. She lives in Brighouse, West Yorkshire where there is also a gap in the market. Thanks. Love all the dark rooms. Elaine.

    1. Hi Elaine, there is a how to join button on the site, which I have linked to in the story – she’ll need to see if she fits their criteria, although it’s possible she will need a couple of projects under her belt first. Tell her to get in touch with the. XK

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