We met Dundee interior designer Sooz Gordon after she visited our St Andrews store and got talking about her simple approach to interior design and styling. With our passion for retro, antique, vintage furniture & interiors, Sooz agreed to share her experiences and insights into turning a house into a home.
Here are a few questions we asked Sooz and some photos from a shoot we did at her house in Dundee.
How did you get into interior design?
I have always been interested in design, but it wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I enrolled in a course at Dundee College and then onto DJCAD to study a degree in Environmental and Interior Design, which gave me the qualifications to get work experience and then a job in design. Like most design industries, it is not particularly paid well, so it has to be something you are passionate about. I don’t see it as a job, albeit it is a demanding one. I think about design when I am not working on a particular project, I like researching and finding inspiration no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
What influences and inspires your ideas for customers?
That is a difficult question, as it changes depending on the project. I am influenced by the area where the project is based and also by the client’s preferences and needs. I might have a strong idea on my direction. If I don’t, I will reference design books, art, architecture to see if I can find a thread that will lead the design. I don’t exclude any reference, you can be inspired by the smallest detail.
Does working with an interior designer really have to cost a lot?
Absolutely not. There is quite a deal of bad press, or rather preconceived ideas, on what the role of a designer is and what they charge. I have been asked simply to source a piece of furniture or to design and project manage the interior of a whole house. In many ways, bringing an interior designer on board will save you money as you are getting their expertise on all areas of design such as space planning, liaising with various trades, curation of new and existing furniture/objects and furthermore, offering design solutions you might never have thought of, revealing interior sources you haven’t heard of.
Should we follow trends closely when styling a space?
With every New Year there are new trends to go with it, and interiors is no exception. Just to keep it confusing, different brands will select a different colour of the year. It all comes down to personal taste, whether you like the colour and more importantly do you care about following trend? I don’t, but it is an option if you are stuck for a colour to try next and are looking for some inspiration. My advice would be to look at different tones of the so-called trend colours and find what connects with you. What I mean is, try and not to go for the obvious, the same swatch colour that is featured in all the design magazines. There are lots of paint companies, so look beyond Dulux (not that there is anything wrong with Dulux) as I can guarantee that is what everyone will be using. Try Farrow & Ball, Fired Earth, Paint Library, The Little Greene and so on. They all have good websites, and will post out swatch cards free of charge. So widen your resources for paint, and inspiration, the effort will pay off.
How can you mix and match different styles, eras and trends?
Home for me is about being surrounded by personal and meaningful objects. I am drawn to pieces that have character and have an interesting narrative. As a designer and maker, I look for quality materials, and appreciate craftsmanship and artistry. So I am comfortable mixing and matching different styles, eras and trends. I can honestly say there is no right or wrong route when designing. We all have different tastes and it would be extremely dull if we all liked the same thing. It is about being confident about what you like and developing your own style.
On a personal note, I am very much a designer who doesn’t follow a particular style, I love the challenge of finding a special piece, either for myself, a client or for a friend. Combining inherited, found, borrowed, commissions, souvenirs and presents makes for a more interesting interior and one that people will enjoy being in.
If a customer has some ideas for restyling part of their home, what should they do next to get themselves started?
Interiors have this amazing quality that we don’t often realise. Are you aware that you behave or feel different in certain spaces, it is just me? I have certain places I regularly visit, just to sit in, and I instantly feel better. It could be a friend’s house, a hotel, a shop that you have a connection with and as a result you don’t want to leave. If you are like me, can you pin point what it was that made you feel like this? Was it the colour, layout, furniture, atmosphere?
Use these elements as a starting point or a reference when designing a room in your house. You don’t need to replicate it completely, just take elements such as a colour or design style that will lead the overall look of your redesign. To build on the initial catalyst, look at other sources such as design magazines, books, and cultures, basically any visual source that appeals to you. Collate all these items, either on your computer or in paper format in a folder. When you go through them all, you will notice occurring themes. That’s what you would then refer to as ‘your style’. No one has an original design, it is all about trading sources and inspiration to create a unique look.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am working on two commercial projects one in Forfar and the other in Dundee. Both are bars and my clients are looking to update their original schemes on a small budget. I like the challenge of working with an existing build and putting my stamp onto it.
Sooz has written a simple article: How To Make A House A Home, in she gives tips and advice to help you get started and style your house. We will be publishing it in a few days.