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The Panel: Your Interior Design Secrets?

Steven Lamb, River Cottage


I think about design a lot. I believe that I possess a certain aesthetic and spatial intelligence that would allow me to create a stylish interior in most rooms I know. However most rooms I know have already been furnished with the gay abandon of my children tossing their belongings as if to prove their own thesis on the chaos theory. That is the problem - in my head there is a comfortable cosmopolitan cool made up of Marimekko prints, Eames' chairs and Phillipe Starck creativity (applied with a budget containing lots of zeros and a decimal point well over to the right). However, the truth is more a 3-D version of a Jackson Pollack installation made up from costumes from the dressing up box, dollies and pink things. And yet there is a piece of furniture in my house that stands out. Not because it oozes design (in fact it is probably the antithesis of design) but because of the feeling attached to it. I own a rug from Axminster Carpets - which used to be the equivalent of saying 'I like wine so it's a bottle of Blue Nun for me!' It certainly isn't the epitome of cool but I bought it because I liked the back story. I hadn't really given Axminster Carpets much thought as a brand included in my taste in interiors until I heard that they were going to file for administration in early 2013. What became apparent to me from the news reports was that there was a whole history of real quality and craft associated with this company and what really impressed me was the spirit in which the staff reacted to the situation and managed to carry on trading with a strong sense of pride. So I felt compelled to buy something from them, partially to support a local company and partially to feel a positive emotional connection to a piece of furniture. Which is what interior design is sort of like - it makes you feel good inside.  

Dan Brod, The Talbot, The Beckford Arms (pictured with partners Matt Greenless and Charlie Luxton)


Tips from what we have used at the Beckford and Talbot: Zebedee Helm artwork - an old friend of ours and Beckford regular, who co-authored 'The Middle Class ABC' - his graphic style painted on glass is eclectic and not predictable, and adds unexpected fun to our bedrooms and public spaces. Lucinda Storm artwork - Wiltshire and Somerset scenes beautifully evoked on canvas. Semley Auction House and Shepton Mallet Antiques Fair - two great places to go foraging for antiques and interesting one-offs. Ian Mankin - rustic yet contemporary fabrics with good textures. ABC Carpets - cosy Moroccan Berber rugs - the genuine article from Berber tribes. This company who we have used for many years is actually based in New York - a bit of a bizarre route which we try to make up for with less food miles! Davey Lighting - expensive lighting, but worth it. There are many imitations of this style now but not as good as theirs. Julian Chichester - classic furniture with a twist.  






Laura Campbell - writer, stylist and DJ  


It’s the handmade or crafted, original bespoke touches that make all the difference to an interior so I’d like to champion all the skilled craftsmen and creative women, who do amazing things with their hands, tools and brushes. Katerina Gibb, otherwise known as The Upholsteress does very innovative and funky things with cushions, chairs, lampshades and curtains from her workshop in Stroud: katerina@theupholsteress.com Matthew Smith is a very dedicated kitchen and furniture maker who works in Bristol and beyond. Somerset-based Nick Esch will take on any interior design and specialist painting such as hand painted wallpaper, murals and trompe l’oeil. For unusual mirrors, tiles and panelling, contact Mole Browne. Based in Bridport, she is known for gilding on glass and mirror using a decorative technique called verre églomisé.   If it’s an intricate carpentry job you’re after such as library shelving, storage, solutions, a bespoke fitted kitchen, garden shed or tree house then Armando Lopez Garcia is your man. Originally from Cuba, he lives in south Dorset.  Over in east Dorset, James Winby is a talented furniture and cabinet maker. Beds, tables, chairs, benches, pews…you name it, he can make it. South Devon Stonemason Jan Panther Guest can apply his skill to anything, from listed to modern buildings, simple or elaborate designs, whether landscaping work, rebuilding old stone walls, creating outdoors steps or laying interior floors and letter carving for signs.        



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