A Mid Sussex interior designer talks Charlotte Harding through the design process.
Being made in redundant in 2001 Elizabeth Bee decided to do something she was passionate about while making the most of her existing skills.
“I was working as a graphic designer at the time,” she recalls.
“I became self employed but got to the point where I wanted to get out and about rather than being sat behind a desk.”
Having previously renovated a couple of houses she decided to embark on an interior design course at home, combining the eye for detail she acquired doing graphic design.
“Being an interior designer means I can get out meeting clients, visiting builders on site or seeing a cabinet maker about our latest project,” she enthuses.
“I am a perfectionist, so much so that if I go round someone’s house or go to finish a room I will move an ornament a quarter of an inch if it isn’t quite right, or plump up the cushions.”
Another way in which she combines her two careers is through designing items for the home.
“I love giving someone a 3D design of what it should look like from each angle and waiting for the finished piece,” explains Elizabeth.
“And it can be anything from fitted cabinets for a kitchen to a sofa which has been designed from the style of the fabric to the cushions.”
The business was founded in 2008 and Elizabeth specialises in high-end and luxury interior design for residential, property developers and commercial clients.
“Interior designers work in different ways,” reveals Elizabeth.
“Some work just with mood boards whereas others like to produce a 3D design.
“I do mood boards but it depends on the client really, some people aren’t very visual so the 3D images really help them to see how it will all look.
“Some people know exactly what they want whereas others are happy to just tell you what they like and let you get on with it.”
Figuring out exactly what the client wants and how visual they are is something that Elizabeth says can take a couple of meetings, you also have to keep in mind what budget they have set.
“Some people will happily spend £600 to £800 on a bed whereas others will set aside £10,000,” she reveals.
“You have to work with them and talk about budget and expectations to get the best for them.”
With every project and each client different Elizabeth says she doesn’t have a particular style but will adapt to the brief.
“Many of my clients have country homes and want to have that look using tweed,” she says, “but I try and make it bespoke to them.
“It is the same with trends I don’t like to repeat the same thing over and over again so will tweak and tailor it to the individual so new two projects with the same theme look exactly the same.
“It just keeps it interesting.”
In the past Elizabeth has worked on full renovations both large and small homes to a room or if someone has the wallpaper and other accessories but don’t know how to style it she can help there as well.
As to her favourite room Elizabeth admits that she likes transforming kitchens even if they can be a little tricky.
“There is just a lot to think about but I do love doing a kitchen project for someone,” she adds.
At the moment the interior designer is currently working on five projects all at different stages, but she says she is honest when it comes to taking on new clients.
“If someone does get in touch I will tell them I might not be able to come and see you for a month or so if I am particularly busy,” she says.
“I think it is important to be up front with them.”
When it comes to trends Elizabeth reveals that people still love greys and silvers, whereas in kitchens lighter colours and gloss style doors are proving popular.
Based in Hurstpierpoint Elizabeth says many of her jobs come through word of mouth.
“I have a lot of clients in East Grinstead at the moment,” she explains.
“I did one woman’s house ages ago and she recently asked me to do another room for her, and then someone else in the lane she lives down has hired me.
“I have a project in Haywards Heath and one in Laughton where the architect recommended me and two other designers and they picked me.”
With recommendations being a great way to spread the word the fact that Elizabeth is so popular through this method surely shows she is on to a winner.
For more information on Elizabeth, visit www.elizabethbee.co.uk
This first appeared in the March edition of etc Magazine, pick up your copy now.