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Interview with Gemma Hill – Bayswater Interiors

Hello! Can you tell us about yourself?

I’m Gemma Hill, and I run Bayswater Interiors, which I started in 2013 after a previous career in the pharmaceutical industry.  Despite the name we are in fact based in Worcestershire, although we work with clients wherever they are located, both in the UK or further afield. 

Our studio is located in Hanbury Wharf near Droitwich and we are lucky enough to have a small showroom below, so clients can also come and take a look at a selection of items that we have hand-picked.

Whilst the majority of our work is residential, we also do work on hospitality and commercial projects and love the variety that brings.  For some clients we just work on a single room, whilst for others we are involved in a whole home project – these are my favourites!

What's your backstory and what attracted you to design? 

I didn’t embark upon a career in design when I first started work.  At university I took a degree in Commerce and my first years of working were in Sales and Sales Training, although I had always been interested in interiors, especially when I bought my first home in my twenties. 

Growing up my Mum was always very interested in interior design and spent a lot of time collecting together samples and tearing images out of magazines in order to decide upon a scheme for our home, so perhaps this interest was inherited from her. Tragically she became ill and died 18 years ago, and this made me reassess what I was doing.

I left the pharmaceutical industry and helped my now husband with the sales and marketing side of his business, selling boats.  I began to ‘dress’ the boats for sale and people wanted to buy the boats including the furnishings. I also designed the interiors of some new ranges for him, and then decided to train in interior design so that I had some formal qualifications too. 

I then began my business in 2013, initially working on my own. My first project was a guest room for a young couple locally, and once completed they asked me to take on the whole home design. The business grew, predominantly via word of mouth, and today I employ two other team members.

Photo: Gerry Neuhoff

What do you love most about designing?

I love the whole process from space planning, redesigning the interior architecture, interpreting the client brief into a concept and room schemes. Lighting design, sourcing – all those creative elements are the parts that I love, and don’t really seem like work to me.  Incidentally the part I least enjoy is the administration side, but of course that is essential to the success of a project!

Photo: Chris Snook

Who, for you, has been the most influential designer/designers?

One person who has had a big influence on our designs is Sally Storey as she has completely changed our approach to lighting, particularly where we are involved in a project at an early stage.  This is such an important element of the overall design, and I think it is often underestimated, particularly by clients.

I am drawn to lots of different aesthetics and as such find that I am drawn to the work of lots of different designers.  Kit Kemp’s bright and eclectic interiors are joyful, and I love the work of Turner Pocock Studio.

The neutral schemes of Kelly Hoppen have also influenced a lot of our design, as has the contemporary luxe nature of Sophie Paterson Interiors.

Where/how do you find inspiration for new designs?

Inspiration for new designs comes from talking to the client – sometimes items they have, things they say, interests and hobbies, places they have been.  This often sparks something within the creative process.  

This is combined with other things we have seen, perhaps films or fashion, or places we have visited.  Travel is a wonderful for creativity, and if you cannot get away, then even looking at images from other countries and cultures can help. 

My friend is a travel blogger, and her photos show lots of architecture or nature from other parts of the world. (www.suewherewhywhat.com) I also love Miguel Flores Vianna’s Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/miguelfloresvianna/) and got his book ‘A Wandering Eye, Travels with my Phone’ for Christmas.

Other sources of inspiration are Design shows, particularly for new products, and other designer’s work often provides a different perspective – perhaps a particular combination of colours or materials that they have used in a design. 

I like to look at magazines such as Architectural Digest and World of Interiors, as well as fashion magazines. The 1st Dibs and Dering Hall websites often have some really interesting pieces for sale which spark ideas.  

If you are struggling with a design it is often better to forget about it for a few hours and do something different, perhaps take a walk or look at images that are completely unrelated to what you are working on, as this tends to release the block.

Photo: Seaaitch

Describe your approach to choosing/using colours.

Whilst a lot of clients historically have wanted to have more neutral schemes, colour is definitely making more of an appearance in our schemes.  We always start by finding out if there are any colours that a client cannot stand so that we avoid those. Often a client who says that they don’t like bold colours just need some hand-holding in order to take the plunge – it’s a matter of confidence. 

What is interesting is that the more dramatic schemes that a client is often nervous about are often the ones that end up being their favourite.  

I am often drawn to blues, and in fact find myself wearing a lot of blue.  There is always a link between fashion and interiors, and often what we have seen coming through in the catwalk subliminally influences us and our colour choices too.

Photo: Gerry Neuhoff

 

What do you like to hear people say when they view your work? 

I always love to hear a ‘Wow’ – well who doesn’t, but at the end of the day it is important that the design fits the client brief, and for the majority of our projects the objective is to provide comfortable and family friendly design which reflects the tastes of our clients. 

Our aim is to be mindful of trends in design but also to provide something that will not look out of date in a couple of years – timeless luxury!

Photo: Chris Snook

Advice for readers who want to redesign their homes/workplaces?

The biggest tip for people who are designing their home is that you need to have the design planned out before you start – it may sound obvious but it stops you making expensive mistakes or buying things that don’t work.

Start by drawing out your space including sockets and lights. Think about how you will utilise the space first and plan your furniture layout. Then look at lighting and think about the variety of light in the room which should be on different levels, so not all provided by ceiling light, but think about adding table lamps, cabinetry lighting or even small lights at floor level.

Then think about the style you are planning and make sure that the pieces you choose fit in with the layout that you have already decided upon. If budget constraints meant that you cannot implement your new design in one go then if you have a plan and an overall concept you can choose things over time and they will always work together.

Photo: Gerry Neuhoff 

What interesting projects are you working on right now? And what does the future look like?

We are currently working on designs for several period properties which are being renovated, a project designing some special accommodation for a client who runs a wedding venue, and a ‘Leisure’ room for a client which is the final room on a complete house redesign which we worked on in 2019. We are also in the midst of a website redesign, and are hoping to get some of our more recent projects photographed.

We have a number of other projects booked in for 2020 including several residential projects and a commercial project which will be rolled out by our client throughout the UK – I can’t say more about that at the moment, but suffice to say 2020 will be an exciting year for Bayswater Interiors.

Photo: Chris Snook

Where can we go to learn more?