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Interiors inspiration for the fearless

When Vanessa Roberts and her husband moved into their Edwardian home in Harrogate, Yorkshire, it was a mess. From rotten windows to floors covered in tar, they set themselves straight to decorating. Enter, self-taught interiors guru, Karen Knox of Making Spaces. With her eye for bold colours, textures and intuition for what’s going to feel just right, she transformed their neglected, magnolia property into a fearless and fun home for two.

Frame of mind

One of Karen’s starting points as an interior designer is to find out what the room is going to be used for and how they want the space to feel. “People sometimes get caught up with what’s cool and what’s trendy. You need to think “how do I wanna feel in this room?” If you’re in your bedroom you want to feel relaxed. In your kitchen, you don’t want to feel too relaxed because you’ll be cooking and entertaining, so you’ll need an awake colour.” 

Hidden obstacles

When they first moved into the space, they quickly discovered there was more to do than they had anticipated. “Once we pulled back the carpet we were blessed with sturdy floorboards but it wasn’t level, straight or sanded.  It took us weeks to sand, nail and level-out the floor and the drawing room took us an age as it was covered in black tar which was used in the old days as a form of insulation.”

Confident design

Having previously lived in a barn conversion with high ceilings and plenty of space to hang their art, Vanessa knew she wanted space to do this in their new home too. “Our style is quite art-deco inspired – we love the blues, golds & greens of that era and the sharp geometric lines that inspire so many deco pieces. We are quite bold in our choices of wall coverings and artwork, most of which was designed & made by Andy Welland, a local artist.”

Collaborative Creations

Karen recognises that an important part of being an Interior Designer is to work with a client, not against them. Her starting point is a “private Pinterest board to start pinning products, general room ideas, design ideas and samples. It’s a windy path, which is really exciting but it can be really stressful. It’s always really rewarding at the end when you see the space that you designed with the help of the client.”

Patience is a virtue

On going dark, Karen is adamant that you need to give it a chance. “Don’t judge it until you’ve done a wall and let it dry and put everything back. When you’ve just done a wall, don’t stop halfway through painting and step back and say “oh my god I hate it!” There have been lots of things that I’ve been uncertain about and I maybe don’t love until day two when I’ve stopped getting over the initial shock.”

Dramatic walls

Both Karen and Vanessa were slightly hesitant when it came to the bold wallpaper choices at first. Karen knew that “The drawing room project with the geometric wallpaper was daring. It was the first time I’d worked with just wallpaper. As soon as I saw it I knew it would have to go all the way around and I thought ‘how am I gonna get the client to say yes to this?”

Taking the plunge

It turned out that Vanessa loved it. “In both the drawing room and the guest bedroom we had originally planned on using the paper on just one feature wall. But in the end we decided to take the plunge and go for all four walls in both rooms. I’m glad we did as you get the full effect of the pattern and it makes the room feel really special.”

Pantone greenery

It’s not only statement walls that caught Vanessa’s interest. She completely fell for the MADE.COM Frame armchairs in grass cotton velvet. “These beauties are my favourite MADE pieces and were a bit of an investment, but the bay window in the bedroom would have looked empty and dull without them.  The green is just stunning and speaks to Pantone’s colour of the year – Greenery.”

Statement lighting

One of Karen’s styling tips is to max out on lighting when you’ve painted your walls dark. “Lighting is key with any dark room design. Definitely the more secondary lighting you can get in the room the better. The resurgence of chandeliers and ornate lighting is down to dark interiors as it just looks great - especially in period properties if you have the really high ceilings.”

Article written by: Helena Murphy
Photography by: Katie Lee

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