Diana Greenhalgh, co-founder of personalised interior design as an affordable online service MyBespokeRoom.com, talked to Hackney Magazine about inspirations, challenges and the latest home trends.
My Bespoke Room was set up by Diana Greenhalgh and Laura Simpson to make interior design accessible rather than a very exclusive service. Through the website, the duo design and source furniture for your home.
Can you tell about yourself?
My name is Diana and I’m the Co-founder of MyBespokeRoom.com. I live in London with my husband and two young boys. When I was renovating my house seven years ago I was searching for an affordable interior designer who could help me achieve my perfect home. I was overwhelmed by all the choices out there and had so many ideas and Pinterest boards that I didn’t know where to start to find the best products to suit my budget.
During my search I found designers to be incredibly expensive and the process very time consuming. My good friend and work colleague Laura was also doing up her house, and we would often chat about the same frustrations. We both had an idea of what we wanted to achieve, but needed help and direction to pull it together, all within a certain budget.
That’s when MyBespokeRoom.com was born. As we couldn’t find what we were looking for we decided to set it up! A design service that was online and convenient, as well as affordable. We’re very proud to rank the UK’s most rated online interior designer and have a wonderful team of incredibly friendly and talented designers.
How do you know when interior design is “good”?
Lucy, our Head of Design has such a fantastic eye and I have learnt a lot from her and the team. Good interior design happens when all aspects come together effortlessly. It covers flow, layout, colour, light, product juxtaposition and detail. It all needs to balance and be just right, which can be very hard to do.
Can you describe your style, how has that style developed over the years?
I live in a period property and so my style reflects this. I tend to be drawn to more classic pieces that will stand the test of time such as my extra-large extendable dining table that’s made from reclaimed wood and is the focus in my kitchen. However, I do like to mix in a few modern pieces too, such as the glass pendants that hang above the dining table and the vibrant coloured accent chair to add a pop of colour.
What is the first thing you look at when walking into a room?
When I walk into a room it’s often the design mistakes that jump out at me! The rug that’s too small or the wall pictures that are hung too high are some of the most common mistakes I always see over and over again.
How do you combine beauty and function?
Our home is where we should feel comfortable and safe, especially now more than ever. One of the most important aspects of design is that it has to meet the needs of the occupant, as well as match their style (and budget) and this is what we do best.
Recently we have found our homes are not only a place to relax in and spend time, they are also a place of work for many. We have worked with many clients to implement a home office solution that can fit in seamlessly with their current environment but is also still practical. We have plenty of experience in finding the best solutions that not only work for our clients, but will also look great and will do for years to come.
Where do you get your inspiration?
From so many sources! Design inspiration is all around us. Pre-covid I loved to travel and pick up inspiration from holiday destinations and hotels. I also love visiting museums and galleries. Recently it’s been more online through social media and magazines, as well as browsing the hundreds of designs our team create each month.
What are some questions you’d ask to discover your client’s requirements?
Our aim is that every customer ends up with a room design styled in a way that exceeds what they could ever conjure up on their own. We have developed an amazing design journey which is a fun collaborative process between the customer and the designer.
During the brief stage, we ask our clients to provide any inspirational images they have seen and loved (such as their Pinterest boards, Houzz photos or any magazine clippings). This information as well as insight gathered during the call, is the first step in gaining an understanding of the customer’s needs, their preferred styles and colours combinations (and sometimes more importantly, what they don’t like!)
The designer also shares some additional inspirational images with the customer and asks them to comment on the pictures with their likes and dislikes. At every stage of the design process the customer is very much involved, and we always agree a design direction and preferred layout before we move forward with the final design process.
How does the client lifestyle influence your designs?
Our homes reflect the personalities that live within and their typical lifestyle. Each design project is different, and inspiration stems from the initial conversations we have to get to know them, their likes and dislikes, and the aspirations they have for their home.
If the client is thinking of selling their home, which room is the most important room to focus on?
Firstly, I would say the overall feeling and ambience is really important. The biggest piece of advice I have is to de-clutter your home before putting it on the market, and if it’s possible give it a fresh lick of paint, it’s amazing how much this can transform a property.
I would then focus on the kitchen and bathrooms. There are great affordable hacks you can do to spruce up these rooms to make them more attractive, such as changing the cabinet door handles, or replacing the taps. Often, it’s the little things that can really pull a room together and make a big difference to a potential buyer that are really easy to implement.
How can Interior Design services help a property to sell more quickly and for more?
Often homeowners don’t see what a fresh pair of professional eyes can see. Potential buyers not only need the property to match their physical requirements, but it also needs to appeal to their emotional side.
We are very experienced in helping clients get the most out of their property that will attract buyers and increase the value. Depending on their budget we can advise on clever storage solutions, layout, colours and top tips to upgrade their space to be more attractive to potential buyers.
How do you make small spaces looks nice?
Often you can be more creative and have fun with smaller rooms. If it’s small and dark, don’t try and paint it white to make it feel bigger. Instead embrace the space and go for a dark warm colour or use a bold wallpaper to make a feature. This is very popular with small WCs and pantries. The other tip is not to cram it full of furniture that’s too big which can also emphasise the smallness. Choosing the right size and balance of pieces is really important in a small room.
What’s the strangest request you’ve gotten for a job?
Last year we designed a vegan home for BBC presenter Jasmin Harman. She wanted her home to reflect her values and passion and we worked with her to come up with a look which was both beautiful and vegan-friendly. It was a first for us, but we loved the challenge! We had to avoid feather-filled cushions, furniture with bee’s wax, some paints, and wool in the likes of wool mix fabrics and rugs.
How do you stay up to date with current trends, technology, and codes?
Being an online tech company feedback is really important. We are always speaking and listening to our customers, and to the needs of our designers. We’re very lucky to have a dedicated tech team who are always working to improve the site and release new features to enhance the customer experience.
What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer? And the most rewarding one?
We work with many clients who are using architects to extend their homes. We help them with their layouts and lighting plans in the initial stages and it’s best to start working with us early on. Sometimes if planning has been granted it can be hard to change minor details that can have a big impact on how a space can be used.
The most rewarding part of our job is reading the wonderful reviews from our happy clients. We love helping our clients achieve their dream home and being part of this journey with them is very special.
What are the current trends?
We’re seeing a real move towards sustainable living and this is being reflected in our homes with the use of more natural fibres such as sisal, rattan and jute. Clients are also more aware of and choosing ethically sourced products which is great to see and support. I personally love the indoor plant trend too as it’s a really inexpensive way to transform a space by adding some life, colour and texture. A large leafy plant adds punch to a lifeless corner and can really complete a room as well as provide many health benefits too! Brass is still a firm favourite and is going nowhere. It’s a sophisticated finish and can add real warmth and elegance to a room. I particularly love the combination of brass with rich velvets. A pop of brass against a darker paint colour such as Farrow & Ball Studio Green or Railings can look so dramatic and chic too.