Hello! Can you tell us about yourself? I’m Nicola, owner of Nicola Holden Designs, a…
Hello! Can you tell us about yourself?
I run a boutique design studio, Chantel Elshout Design, which specializes in working closely with residential clients & developers to design and supply kitchens & joinery, source furniture, lighting and soft furnishings. In addition, we frequently collaborate with other interior designers and architects supplying them with kitchens, utility rooms, wardrobes and joinery to suit their specific requirements.
Our studio is renowned for providing a truly personal service and design tailored to our client’s needs and budget. I am passionate about affordable design and in an industry rife with changing interiors for the sake of a new look, we aim to reuse as much as we can and source sustainable products for everything else, whilst delivering a timeless design.
What’s your backstory and what attracted you to design?
I was born in South Africa and moved to the UK when I was 18, excited to travel and experience as many countries as I could before heading back, or so I thought at the time!
I fell in love with my now husband, and this country, and now, 20 years later, I couldn’t imagine calling anywhere else home.
My mother was an art dealer and from a young age I was used to attending interior trade shows and art exhibitions, as well as tagging along when the artwork was installed. I found myself becoming more and more interested in the design and architecture of these different properties. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in design but just wasn’t sure which path to take.
When I first came to the UK, I did a foundation course at the London Guildhall University (now London Metropolitan University) and then on to Chelsea College of Art & Design before working as a design assistant for a kitchen company. I was really fortunate to have been paired with the head designer in the company which meant I built up a huge amount of experience in a very short time.
It was here I really fell in love with kitchen design, but also knew that I wanted to combine it with interior design, as I feel very strongly that you can’t design a kitchen without taking the rest of the property and space into account. I worked on some amazing projects, became even more inspired to do my own thing, and set up my studio in 2010.
What do you love most about designing?
I love the initial consultation where we meet our clients to learn more about how they live and how we can help them. I particularly enjoy that each project brings its own set of challenges, and being able to create practical, but also stylish solutions, brings me great pleasure.
I also enjoy collaborating with other design professionals, and engaging with different trades to ensure the smooth running of a project, and to ensure that we exceed our client’s expectations.
Who, for you, has been the most influential designer/designers?
I have always greatly admired Kit Kemp’s design for Firmdale Hotels – her use of colour, pattern and texture is inspiring and creates beautiful, layered interiors where you can truly relax. She is also a great supporter of artisans and artists all over the world.
I return to her book, Every Room Tells a Story again and again and her website, Kit Kemp’s Design Thread is a source of continuous inspiration.
Where/how do you find inspiration for new designs?
I have been extremely fortunate to have travelled a great deal when I was younger, staying in some amazing small, boutique hotels where you really get a sense of the colloquial style.
When we start working on a new project, we often have a piece of art or furniture our clients love in mind, as we narrow down finishes and colours for the overall scheme.
To combat designers block, I often leave the project for a while and do something else I really enjoy. It’s in the unexpected moments that an idea or solution will present itself to me.
Describe your approach to choosing/using colours.
I tend to veer towards darker, moodier colours in inky blues, green greys and love how they can make a room feel inviting and calm. These colours also create a great background for artwork.
Of course I will also take the architecture and property itself in mind when looking at a colour palette, and the client’s own preferences. We aim to design homes our clients feel comfortable in, as well as being visually striking.
What do you like to hear people say when they view your work?
I enjoy hearing people say that our designs are timeless, with a wonderful blend of natural finishes and materials. The ultimate compliment our clients can give us, is to say that the design has improved their lives in ways they did not expect.
What interesting projects are you working on right now? And what does the future look like?
We have recently completed a traditional kitchen with a contemporary twist in a townhouse in Chelsea, a family kitchen in Battersea, and kitchens for 70 rental flats in Forest Hill, South East London.
We are working on a contemporary kitchen design for a luxurious new build in Berkshire, a bespoke, stylish kitchen and utility room for a busy family home in Holland Park, and interior design for a family home in the Heaver Estate, South West London.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Instagram @chantelelshoutdesign
- Twitter @chantelelshout