HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR PROPERTY

Melanie Williams runs a London-based architecture and interior design consultancy specialising in high-end residential and boutique commercial projects. Here she explains where a passion for design stemmed from, why client collaboration is key, and how to get the most out of the money you investment in your property

Were you always a creative person growing up?
Yes, I used to love drawing, painting and building models. I’d say I have Lego and my dolls house to thank for my early interest in building, houses and interior decoration. Not to mention the fact that my parents rebuilt part of our family home when I was young, so I lived a year of my childhood on a building site. It’s probably no surprise I ended up studying architecture and wanting to pursue this as a career.

When did you realise a career in design was for you?
I knew from very early that I wanted to study architecture and to study at the Royal College among such varied design disciplines was really great.

What would you say the biggest thing you learnt at the Royal College of Art was?
To work alongside so many talented peers and different design disciplines was a fantastic opportunity and I was challenged conceptually. Architectural education is great training in self discipline, motivation and design and creative output among other things.

Would you say you have a unique selling point?
We offer a combined architectural and interior design service with a strong design focus. It’s great to work not only on the built form but to carry the design vision through into the bespoke interior finishes and furniture. We find clients value the bespoke nature of our service.

Have you been based in Chelsea since the start of your practice? Is it the perfect location for you?
It’s a great part of London. We have been predominantly working in Chelsea since we started and that’s been as a result of recommendations. It’s great to be working in such a beautiful part of town and one that I remember well from my days at the Royal College of Art. We also work across other parts of London such as Fulham, Wandsworth and Dulwich.

What do you make of the architecture in the area?
The architecture here is inspiring. The historic properties many take for granted – they provide great examples of the importance of proportion, decoration and details in design.

How do you normally approach a new project?
We try to get to know and understand each of our clients, their lifestyles and their individual needs and wants, as well paying close attention to the context within which we have to work.

How does the architectural side of your practice work?
Most of our projects start with an architectural bias so the architectural side of what we do runs through every project. We always think of the spaces we are creating as a whole and their relationship to other spaces.

You have worked all over London in terms of bespoke interior design – do you have a favourite project?
Every project we take on is exciting and so varied. We enjoy all of our projects, it would be hard to pick a favourite. However, we recently completed a project in New York for some of our past London-based clients, so this was quite exciting for us.

How different are the projects in the Chelsea area compared to, say, the Herne Hill project?
The projects we have worked on in the Herne Hill / Dulwich area are all family homes that have to work so hard to provide the versatile and practical spaces that families need. Having a family of my own I know how important designing practical spaces is, as well as the need to create great entertaining spaces. Most of our Chelsea-based projects have been apartments for couples, bachelors or for property developers, all of which have slightly different briefs.

What does the furniture aspect of your business involve?
We design a lot of bespoke built in furniture which we enjoy seeing installed by our joiners. Bespoke furniture is one of the best ways of maximising a space’s potential and its flexibility.

What, ultimately, gives you the greatest pleasure in your job?
Working with clients to maximise their investment in their homes or properties, and seeing our designs and collaborative efforts be realised. It’s so satisfying.

What are your plans for the future?
We hope to build on what we’ve been busy doing and to take on more challenging projects in Chelsea and surrounding London boroughs. We hope to launch a range of stand alone pieces of furniture in the not too distant future too… Watch this space!

Find out more by visiting melaniewilliams.co.uk