Armed with a lifelong love of colour and style, Serena Pitcher used her skills to develop Your Interiors Friend, a design consultation service which she compares to ‘being able to ask a friend for advice’. Sara Walker spoke to her to find out more.
“I got started through using a combination of skills and knowledge that I’d acquired over ten years of renovating and designing three properties of our own and then friends and family asking me to help out with their projects,” explains Serena.
“The accessible element of Your Interiors Friend came about by needing to find a way of working which fitted in with home commitments, and acknowledging that while product procurement is easier for clients than it used to be, they often need help with ideas rather than purchasing.
“After a full consultation with the client and a good look at the space that needs to be redesigned, I’ll then go back and come up with a plan from home, meaning that I can work in the evenings and weekends as I need to. After all, clients often need to make appointments in that time frame too.
This process means that it makes the service more affordable for clients as they are the one making the purchasing and organising deliveries, rather than paying Your Interiors Friend to take care of that element. Having said that, at the moment I’m working on two massive projects where I’m fully involved and I’m helping with everything. I offer a truly bespoke service, dependant upon what the client needs.
“The company has been running as a proper business for about 18 months but with years and years of building skills and a portfolio before then. Before doing this fulltime, I worked in fashion marketing, heading up a marketing department, with visual merchandising being where my job really began. The principles of sight lines and focal points in retail are skills that I very much use in my interiors work now, and of course being able to communicate with clients to really understand what it is they’re aiming for in their homes is imperative.
“I’d describe my personal style as ‘eclectic’, if that’s not cheating! Seriously though I’m eclectic in all elements of my life, music, fashion, culture so as my home is reflection of me, why would it be anything else?
I say my home, but I share it of course with my family and their personalities and changing tastes are also reflected. That sounds chaotic but I think the skills of combining and balancing old and new, patterned and plains are what make our home feel both lived in and characterful but calm.
“I’m inspired by travel and the places I visit. I have a second home in France which has been a big influence for sure. We have sourced lots of our holiday home from brico ventes (a kind of garage sale) , for value but also again to keep the balance right in the house, It’s a 400 year old farmhouse so needed some imperfection inside as well as outside.
I’ve actually found as much inspiration through restaurants and bars and how they’ve used different layers to create mood in French interiors. I’ve really taken a lot from visits to Copenhagen and Stockholm as well, especially as the light spectrum is so similar to ours there, their simple colour palettes, layered with textures can really help to create warmth in a scheme without necessarily using the colour cliches of ‘warm colours’.
“I’d struggle to choose a favourite project I’ve worked on. That’s so hard, like choosing a favourite child….I’ve got a number of projects not yet completed and I’m so excited to see them complete when the ideas in my head look great in real life (always a relief when it all comes together). I loved the teeny tiny downstairs loo that we did. It came under budget and the client was ecstatic about the space, having loathed it before. Tucked under the stairs we really embraced how tiny it and turned into a dark and sultry space, after all a WC is often the room that visitors spend some time in!
“When it comes to finding the perfect items for the space I’m trying to source items that are perfect for the clients and not necessarily for me, but I was really envious of a luxury but compact family bathroom I worked on as we haven’t done any of the bathrooms in our own home yet, still saving up to do them. The black metal casement shower that we sourced for them is just gorgeous. I so want one in my bathroom!
“My tip for brightening up a tired interior would be to look at woodwork and radiators. If you haven’t painted your radiator either the same colour as your walls or a standout, attention seeking colour it can make such a difference in a room and can be done relatively cheaply and without much upheaval.
Similarly, painting your woodwork, so skirting boards, architraves and doors, anything other than white can also be a great way to modernise a space or simply change the visual proportions of a room. Either paint them the same colours as the walls or a contrasting colours to make a feature. That goes for the ceiling too. Why does it have to be white?
“I used to say that the hardest thing about running your own business has to be working on your own and not having someone to bounce ideas off but since being invited to be a member of the brilliant Interior Design Collective, I have a fantastic group of like minded professionals to ask for opinions on things or share sources with so that doesn’t apply anymore! So now I’d say that you’re always on duty, always working. Even if I’m on holiday I’m looking at things from a design point of view, making notes or taking pictures, you can never fully switch off.
“The best thing is the thrill you get when you receive the really positive feedback from clients, you can see how helping them with their homes has made a difference to how they feel in their houses and that’s made an impact in their lives. Running your own business means that I can take complete ownership of that, I did it and it’s a wonderful confidence builder.
“Moving forwards, I’d like to have a bit more work/life balance. I’ve been really fortunate to have hit the ground running and I’ve got so many projects on that I’m having to turn work down. I need to balance in a bit of home time and hopefully make a start on those bathrooms!”
You can find out more about Serena and Your Interiors Friend at www.interiordesigncollective.co.uk.
Main image: Serena Pitcher of Your Interiors Friend. All images (c) Serena Pitcher 20191