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Rascal & Roses

I’ve known Verity from Rascal & Roses for a while now, so it was really exciting to see her on Interior Design Masters. We first discovered each other via social media a few years ago and knowing how good she is, I asked her to make the curtains for my office in London, which, now we’ve moved, are being put up in my house in Hampshire as they were too good to lose!

I asked if she would be interested in being part of my guest blog because her journey, experiences and recent TV appearance are all so exciting and a story that needs to get down on paper! We delve into all sorts including her business journey starting from army officer to interior designer, examples of her work, a bit about the filming of Interior Design Masters and what she’s working on next and I’m sure you will all enjoy reading it as much as I do.

 

Tell us about your journey from Army Officer to Interior Designer

The main reason I left the military was to ensure my children grew up with continuity and a firm base at home, something I knew we couldn’t offer if both my husband and I stayed serving in the forces.  During maternity leave in 2013, as something to simply keep me busy, I started writing a blog and upcycling furniture.  Very quickly my offering expanded to hand-made lampshades and soft furnishings and as my network grew, incoming queries began to stretch to other areas of interior design and I started studying online.  I was lucky enough to shadow a very established interior designer with a wealth of experience for six months, who really helped me build a strong foundation for my business.  My first interior design project came just 8 months after I started, and my business has grown organically ever since.

 

What is the biggest driver in your design process?

Having spent many years in the Army, travelling around and living in different places for short periods of time, none of which were ‘mine’, making a house a home is the thing that really inspires me.  I love working with my clients to create their dream homes.  I see people’s homes and often what people don’t realise with many of the Instagram images I post, is that what makes these spaces amazing is not simply the wallpaper or the fabrics in the curtains but the feel of each room or home.  They are comfortable and welcoming spaces and most importantly, they are lived in, they are not show homes.  This approach equally works well in the luxury holiday cottages, hotels and private schools I have worked on – they are spaces people want to spend time in instead of simply being a conceptual design that looks great on a moodboard or a cropped image, but doesn’t translate to real life.

 

Northwood Senior School

Photo Credit: Rascal and Roses

 

How does working on commercial properties, like your boarding school project, differ from working on residential homes?

Our clients range from home-owners to luxury country holiday rentals and hotels to private schools.  The biggest difference is navigating the ins and outs of commercial regulations so that we can bring the level of detail and design intricacies of a residential project into a commercial setting.    This can be anything from anti-slip flooring and fire resistant requirements needed for public spaces to knowing the suppliers who offer robust enough furniture for children to use on a daily basis year in year out.  With both sides of the coin you need to work with trades, contractors and architects as well as working on multiple rooms, all with different purposes, at the same time. The real difference with commercial is that when you design commercially the key consideration tends to be price, rather than style. This means whilst a residential client may be willing to find more cash for a really special item of bespoke furniture, or the carpet of their dreams, a commercial client has a budget and we have to make our designs fit. That means learning how to make these budgets stretch as far as possible by really working very closely with our suppliers to make in budget pieces of furniture that look like bespoke items through a clever choice of finishes or combining the right pieces to elevate the whole scheme.

 

Wilmot House, Hereford Cathedral School – Dining Room

Photo Credit: French Jones Photography for Rascal & Roses

 

Broomwood Hall Upper School – Art Room

Credit: Snook Photography for Smith + Brooke Architects

 

Why is window dressing so important?

It is the cherry on the cake of any room!  My fitter said to me, many years ago, “there is a window dressing for every window and when you know what that is, you bust the myth”.  I know, just by looking at a window, often without needing to see the surrounding room or property, what that window needs from roman blinds to curtains to a pole or a track to the right header style or fabric choice.  Good quality window dressings last a lifetime so it’s an area I would always advise my clients to invest in as by doing so they can afford to save in other areas.  Expertly made window dressings can and often are the focus of any room and will last forever.  People notice good quality window dressings, they don’t know why, but they do and for our clients they really do make a room.  A multitude of other interior sins can be hidden in a room with great window dressings!

 

You’ve ordered a few fabrics from us in the past, was the room pictured below designed around the fabric or was my Camouflage design the finishing touch? 

The camouflage fabric was something our client adored and therefore it was the starting point for the design of the room and we worked the whole room around this fabric, from the wall colour to the cushions. We have subsequently chosen the perfect off grey/ochre linen roman blind that really complements the curtains made with Juliet’s fabric.

 

 

Cobham Project using Juliet Travers Camouflage fabric

Photo Credit – Nick Smith for Rascal & Roses

 

How have you juggled motherhood with building your own business? Have you found a work/life balance?  Was this difficult during the filming of Interior Design Masters?

Building Rascal & Roses has taught me that running a business can be hugely rewarding, but that it has come (for me anyway) with total commitment from myself and my family. The late nights and early mornings juggling a family and a fledgling business has challenged me in ways I thought were not really possible outside the military – both physically and mentally.

Interior Design Masters was definitely a challenge to squeeze in.  When filming commenced, 3 weeks after they had approached me to be on the show, I had several projects on the go, all with immovable deadlines.  So, to then be given a week to come up with a concept, from a very basic brief, source everything and install a completed project for Interior Design Masters without a site survey or accurate measurements certainly added to the load! Just the logistics of having to be in London for the studio days once a week and then in Newcastle, Bournemouth and Nottingham in between for the installations meant I spent a lot of time on trains and not much time at my desk.

 

Castle Combe Project

Photo Credit: Mark Watts for Unique Home Stays

 

What was the selection process like for the programme?  Did you have to go through a gruelling process or were you hand picked?

I was approached directly by the production company about 6 weeks before we undertook the first week’s task in Newcastle. I believe there were lots of applicants for the show although I personally didn’t know anything about it until I received the call from Smith Darlow Production.

 

How did it feel watching Interior Design Masters back on TV?

Very strange.  They condense 1600 hours of filming into the 1 hour show and I found myself quite nervous at how I would be edited and shown.  Interestingly, the Netflix International edit is very different to the BBC version of the show…..and it was very odd listening to myself in Portuguese and Taiwanese. The edit was always only ever going to show a fraction of the reality and I did find it frustrating that there was a lot of focus on personalities rather than design, but it was a great thing to be part of and such a huge production, you have no idea what goes into making the shows as a viewer.

Interior Design Masters

Photo Credit: Tom Scott Photography for BBC

 

Was it hard to keep it a secret until the programme aired?

Not really as once filming had finished 18 months ago, I had so much work to catch up on as well as a young family who desperately wanted some time with me. Before I knew it, we were preparing for the BBC2 launch!  Also, it wasn’t 100% confirmed that the show would even air so we had almost forgotten about it when we were told it was going to be screened!

 

Can you share any details from behind the scenes that didn’t make it into the finished programme?

It was very different from how being an interior designer is in real life.  Not only the tight turnaround times but also not being able to perform a site survey and having to rely on measurements that were, for my rooms, always inaccurate.

Even though this wasn’t really portrayed on the show, the 10 contestants actually had a lot of fun filming, we were always being told off for laughing too much! Well I was anyway.  It was a shame that the viewers didn’t see the timelines that we were working to, or the fact that the briefs were changed last minute in order to add some pressure to the design work! On the hotel week for example, we were only told once we had prepared our briefs that it was actually a chocolate hotel – so for that week my whole scheme had to change. In weeks 1 – 3 we were also given feedback from the clients, mine was really positive, but this didn’t make the edit in the end which was a shame.  The filming process is very long and we were on site from around 7am – 10pm each day and then the judging at the end of the week took, in some case, over 6 hours “on the sofa”.

 

You are so well known in the industry for your stunning flat lays. It’s a serious art to get a flat lay right and yet, time after time, you produce a stunning display of textures, colours, paint samples, fabric and wallpaper cuttings all working together in one image. Are you able to tell us how you do it or is it top secret?

Well that’s incredibly kind of you to say, thank you.  I think, for me, there is no secret, it is simply that I love pulling colours and patterns together and find it quite therapeutic creating them. It’s very hard to show people how a room will feel before the room has been installed so I use the flat lays to try and give clients a sense of how the finishes of their room will look when all together in one space. I spent years learning how to use my SLR camera and while I have less time now to focus on photography , doing the flay lays means I still get to play with my camera, which I really enjoy! My top tip for taking flay lays is to make sure you are looking directly down on them when your take the shot, not from an angle or they never quite look square – this might mean standing on a chair or doing the set ups on the floor so you can get high enough to shoot.

 

St Patrick’s Day Flatlay

Photo Credit: Rascal & Roses

 

Has social media helped the growth of your business and if so, how?

Social Media is a wonderful tool to raise brand awareness and is a great touch point for anyone considering using Rascal & Roses to find out more about our work, me and my inspiration.  We have also found Social Media is a brilliant signpost to introducing people to our work and what we do. From social media people can go to my website and look at previous projects and get a feel of how working with us will be, which is really helpful for potential clients. In contrast however, the rise of Pinterest and Instagram has made Interior Design seem easily attainable and there are many people who see something on social media and think it’s easy to do. People, understandably want to try and design and decorate their homes themselves, guided by social media, but we always try and explain that a photo you see on the internet is likely to be only half the story, so I do think it can be a double edged sword.

 

Who are your top three influential accounts to follow on Instagram?

Kit Kemp Design Thread I’ve long been obsessed with Kit’s designs and her love of colour and the way she uses it in commercial spaces is genius.

Architectural Digest – You can’t help but be inspired by the stream of beautiful images that comes out of this publication, I could spend days on there.

and Soho House  – I follow all of the houses and love how each one is tailored to its country of origin.  Such a brilliant concept.

 

What would be your advice for someone starting out on his or her own?

Try and find your own niche.  It’s a very over-crowded market and to succeed you need to stand out and offer something that is different and fuels potential client’s imaginations. You also have to be brave and really put yourself and your offering out there, in the full knowledge it won’t be for everyone, but that hopefully your perfect clients will find you.

 

What’s next?

Well we have just launched the most exciting collaboration with Melodi Horne.  Melina and I have co designed a limited-edition lampshade range exclusively for Rascal & Roses in a stunning ikat available in 4 colourways and 3 sizes.   I created and launched The Edit in September to offer fabulous pieces that have been specifically selected from some of our favourite designers and suppliers to offer clients some unique and original items for their homes.  It’s the perfect place to find inspiration and discover new brands and artisans.

 

 

Melodi Horne for Rascal & Roses Shade

Photo Credit: Rascal & Roses

 

We are also working on some wonderful period properties at the moment, one that is residential and two commercial and this is really where we thrive.  We specialise in quirky, period properties where we can work to ensure the character and original features are respected and highlighted. Its stacking up to be a really busy 2020 and I can’t wait to get my teeth into these amazing projects. One of the most exciting things about running your own business is that you never really know where you might end up and I really enjoy this aspect of the industry.

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