I love a good Show Home, at weekends I can often be found finding the yellow signs, following the flags and hubby and I reviewing the show home and imagining ourselves living within. I often wonder about who designs them? How do you get to design Show Homes? How do they pick the colour scheme? The fixtures and fittings? And those accessories – designer or high street?
I asked the lovely Rebecca Tucker from Suna Interior Design to answer these questions and more, to give us all an insight into the world of Show Homes and how we can get the show home look.
How did you get into to designing for show homes?
After completing a Fine Art degree at University, specialising in painting, I started my career in 1997 working in a retail environment, as a visual merchandiser and interior designer in a large retail furniture and home accessory store. Having moved to Edinburgh with this company, I then had an amazing opportunity to start up the in-house interior design department for the Scottish region of a national housebuilder.
For two years I worked across the whole of the central Scottish belt, from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Dunblane to North Berwick. I singlehandedly (I WAS the ‘department’!) designed and installed a huge number and wide variety of showhouses, from high ceilinged apartments in Edinburgh city centre, to five bedroom houses in the Scottish borders.
In 2001 I moved back to London to work alongside two of my very best friends in a new company, Suna Interior Design. The three of us worked on projects across London, and as far afield as Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol and Glasgow, gradually building the brand and the company. Working solely with large and small scale developers meant we established a strong b2b company, building a reputation and a client list from recommendation and word of mouth.
Helen and I bought the company from Suna Lock (yep, that’s where the name comes from!) five years ago when her earlier move to California became a permanent thing. Helen and I, with our small but perfectly formed team, now work with some of the Capitals most forward thinking and innovative developers, having design involvement from the ground up, working on interior specification, common areas and concierges and topping off developments with show homes on projects across London and the UK.
Are you given a theme or list materials to use for the property?
A client will give us a brief, based on purchaser profile, selling price, location and possibly the kind of style they may be looking for. Different developers will offer different levels of brief, but at Suna Interior Design we pride ourselves on taking basic details and really developing a keen idea of who the purchaser may be, how they would live and what the perfect design for them would be. The design we will then present to the client will be targeted and directly designed for their marketplace; a specific, bespoke, unique scheme that has been well thought through, beautifully designed, and installed with attention to detail to ensure the client gets exactly what we said on the tin…well, on the scheme board.
How do you go about designing for the property?
As a small company one of our core values is continuity of design. The designer who works on the scheme is the person who organises the job file, they will be the one who specifies the soft furnishings, decides the artwork through the house or apartment and finally, who will get the pleasure of taking a credit card shopping for all the accessories and elements that will dress a scheme to really personalise and finish it off to perfection. A starting point for a design could be a beautiful wallpaper, a piece of fabric, an image from a magazine or something totally abstract; a pair of colours seen together on the way to work, or a combination of colours seen in a fashion magazine. From there we will choose furniture, fabrics, lighting, artwork, accessories and finishing touches. Generally there will be between four to six weeks from a design being approved and signed off to the completion date, when we coordinate the installation of furniture, soft furnishings and styling to finish on budget and on time!
Where do you buy the materials and accessories are they designer or high street?
We have masses of suppliers, and will always be on the lookout for new products, furniture and accessories. We market ourselves on our most recent projects so it is always our priority to move forward with our designs, and with the things we choose to furnish and style our designs with, without repetition or working to any kind of ‘design formula’ so that our portfolio can move forward too.
We are always looking to innovate and progress our company and that involves having the ability to predict trends, looks and styles and be a front runner in the show house market. So, with that in mind, we will shop with trade suppliers, with designers in the UK and Europe, on the high street and via the internet. As a small company we have the freedom to not have to restrict ourselves and our designers to specific companies but will always insist on spreading the net as wide as possible….it’s a company policy!
Any tips to get the show home look?
We work hard to personalise our designs so they are not the generic bland show homes that are sometimes seen. This approach bridges the gap between a show home and an owners home, and this would be the advice I would offer to others : whatever the backdrop, colour scheme or style you select for each room in your home it is vital to choose things to furnish your house that you love and that reflect your personality.
In your own home you have the luxury to take the time to develop the look of the room, and evolve the design, something we can’t do in show homes! My own house is a constantly moving picture, with things being added and removed, altered and amended, and of course new things purchased constantly! My poor hubby, the backdrop has become a bit like the forth road bridge, he has to keep rewallpapering! But the thing that identifies my house as indicative of my personal style are the items that I cherish, that I have collected and arranged, the artwork I put on my walls, the individual touches that reflect our family and our life, from the paisley wallpapered downstairs cloakroom, with its walls hung with vintage handbags and lit by a miniature twinkly chandelier, to the collection of antique mirrors that cover one wall of our bedroom; from the row of shoe keeps running up the stairs, to the reclaimed French door numbers I have collected to represent all the houses we have ever lived in.
Basically, be bold and brave with your choices, don’t follow trends for trends sake, but absorb and reinvent current ideas that you connect with. Don’t be afraid, whether you chose bright colours or dark tones, contrast or coordination, chose a look you like and pay attention to the details. And lastly evolve and add, evolve and add continuously!
Thank you so much to Becky and her team at Suna Interior Design
You can also follow Becky on twitter @sunainteriordes