Grand Designs Live is the largest consumer show exhibition for self build, design, interiors and home innovation. In 2016 I was invited to create a room set based on famous places that never existed.
There were to be six room sets from UK designers, which served to offer design inspiration and ideas for visitors to the show. We were honoured and excited to be invited.
Grand Designs Live - what's it all about
Our room was inspired by 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was a book I read a lot as a child and that I thought represented the modern day desire to escape. In the book it was a place you can be yourself, meet friends and interact with nature. This is something I see a lot from our customers today: the need to escape the stress in our everyday lives and the technology that seems to dominate most of our daily activities and spaces. People are craving a haven to run to after work and somewhere they can relax.
Thinking about the book, we opted to incorporate our design into a dining room as it's often the place we gather with friends and family and it added a additional challenge as dining rooms are notoriously the hardest room to get right - if you are going to do it you may as well do it all.
Visualising the design
There followed a few hard weeks of planning and drawing, sourcing and sampling until we could produce a photo realistic 3D render of the room we were going to recreate for the 106,000+ visitors over the nine days.
Our 3D render of the space
As with our residential projects, it was great to visualise the room, helping us to make sure everything fitted the space and that the colours would suit each other. Crucially, everything had to be built within a tight two day time slot.
On the day, thanks to careful planning and great suppliers everything went smoothly. It was fantastic to watch our set come to life as the items arrived and we began to decorate and dress to our deadline. At the end of every project I get goosebumps as I see the final items in place, but this wasn't a typical project. It wasn't a single residential customer to please - it was thousands of members of the public who would be judging what they saw.
We always aim to use as many local products and services as possible within our designs and we didn't want this to be any different. We wanted to source high quality products but at affordable prices and wanted to bring in a few trends to inspire our visitors.
When we began the sourcing stage of the project we knew we wanted to use a mix of large stores that we trust and respect like Heal's and Farrow & Ball with great history and quality in their products, but we also wanted to use smaller independent finds like Design Vintage, Home Barn and Mia Fleur, who offer a more personal and unique touch within their product ranges.
Who doesn't love copper? A trend popular in 2016. We wanted to take advantage of that by adding a few accents of copper accessories and by adding some bright orange accent to really bring the set to life.
The main trend we wanted to explore however, was in keeping and inspired by our sponsors for the room sets, Gumtree. We feel that top-notch products are just as important as dynamite design - but things don't have to be new to be wonderful in your room. Everything on the set was sourced from quality suppliers offering the very best in reclaimed, reused, recycled, up-cycled and hand made products - including Gumtree.
The end result Finally, we had a room worthy of Grand Designs Live and the keen-eyed visitors to the set. We met the likes of Dan Hopwood and Sophie Robinson from the BBC Great Interior Design Challenge and of course Kevin McCloud himself, who all offered some great feedback and were inspirational in themselves.
We had a fantastic week talking with hundreds of visitors and offering lots of advice, not just on the products we used but on the interior design process, and occasionally sharing a few of our trade secrets.
For more information on any of the products featured or our design services, call us 0208 133 0702.