As some of you may be aware, last week I went to the George Northwood salon for an insanely expensive haircut to get over my raging midlife crisis. Well the haircut was lovely and clearly I am now ruined for anywhere else but, more to the point, what a gorgeous salon. I instagrammed a picture of the loo (you can see it below) and the designer, Sarah Ellison of Frank & Faber popped up and invited me to have a look around the rest of her projects.
Some of these projects were created with her former business partner Camilla Leech, who now runs Element, and they are marked as such – Trunk Creative – which was their joint enterprise. Anyway, back to Sarah.
We had a long chat and one thing that she was keen to emphasise is that interior design is not all about massive budgets. She’s very good at small spaces ( and big ones obvs) and using clever tips to make it look more expensive than it was. When it comes to her commercial projects, a couple of which I have shown here because there are ideas which are easily transferrable to houses too, clients have often poured all their money into the business home to help grow that and done their actual home on a shoestring. “It’s about focusing on a few key pieces and being cost effective with the rest,” she says.
Interior design is one of those things that still feels like an incredible luxury. For most of us it remains something that other people do. People with huge amounts of money and no time or inclination to do it themselves. And I say that even though I help people with their homes too although I’m mainly about layout and sourcing rather than huge projects.
Chatting to Sarah, whose own home is featured here, and she is a woman after my own heart: “You can buy one expensive thing and then the rest can be cheaper. It’s like having an amazing pair of shoes and the rest of the outfit is from Topshop.
“My pendant light was expensive because you can see if from everywhere and it’s a focal point. But the rest of my furniture is either hand me downs, my mum’s or reclaimed.” She points out the doors behind the pendant lamp – £150 from ebay and they look perfect.
Sarah’s other tips include – yes it’s the touch points again. So it’s chairs and light switches and all the things that you interact with. But she will often source IKEA carcasses for her kitchens and then dress them up with new doors and worktops – much as we have done here at The Mad House.
When it came to the loo at George Northwood, the tiles were dirt cheap – around £19 a metre – but they were laid in an interesting pattern to make them look more expensive. The shelves at Aer are made from Douglas Fir with brass inlaid – rather than whole shelves of brass.
Like me, Sarah is a fan of dark paint – Railings is her current favourite but sadly the pink was specially mixed so I can’t help you with that.
In addition, vintage or old stuff. Crucial to every project. It brings in your personality and a bit of character. “Even if you have to buy the old stuff rather than fetching it down from the attic we will always source something old.”
Indeed when Sarah starts a project she always has a look at the old things that are lying around and makes sure clients bring them out for the finished result.
So there you have today’s 10 Beautiful Rooms. I hope you like them and have found some inspiration for your own spaces.
photographs by Paul Craig