INTERVIEW WITH INTERIOR DESIGNER CELIA SAWYER
Celia Sawyer is the founder of exclusive interior design company Celia Sawyer Luxury Interiors, which boasts a portfolio across the globe, as well as being a TV presenter. Here she takes us into her new project in North West London, which is available for a cool £29.5m
Was there a general brief for Avenue Road in North West London?
To create an uber-luxurious space that would suit the discerning client. I had to turn an empty shell into a warm, comfortable yet glamorous home, which would work for a couple or a family in the St John’s Wood area.
Do you enjoy the challenge of combining contemporary style with traditional features?
I do very much. Each project I work on offers different pros and cons, from room size, layout and architectural features. If a property has traditional features I like to incorporate these into my design and mix classic with contemporary.
The living space at Avenue Road is divided into two areas. Was that your idea, or was that already the plan?
I was given free reign over the property so it was my recommendation to divide the living space into two areas. This allowed for a formal end, and then an entertaining, relaxed end. So many large properties in London have big living spaces, so it is the interior designer’s challenge to work out how to break the room up to cover all its needs.
How do you use fabrics to create the right mood?
I love mixing different fabrics and textures. Get the fabrics right and you’re half way there. For me, rich tones, velvets, leather, suedes, against lacquered woods and metallics create the right mood and offer total elegance.
How do you choose certain colours?
As an interior designer you must listen to the client brief. This is the first rule. Once you understand their attitude to colour and what they are looking to achieve, you can move forwards. I will often work with neutral tones then choose an accent colour for each room.
Is the leisure suite a stand out aspect of the property and the most fun to work on?
The leisure suite is fantastic as it dominates the lower ground floor and has some great spaces for swimming, relaxing, socialising etc. It is an extremely important aspect of the house, and in a property of this calibre is essential that it offers the owner an experience that you would only otherwise achieve in the best spa in the world. I divided the room so that there was a relaxation area, a games area and general seating area, and loved to incorporate a star piece in this room to add that je nais se quoi. This was in the form of ‘Frozen Water’; these are two pieces of unique glass sculptures that are really organic in shape. I placed these onto custom made light-boxes so the glass lights up from underneath, causing a really beautiful effect. They look like they’re floating.
With the bathrooms, what kind of look and feel did you want to achieve with those?
I created elegant, classical and glamorous rooms with marble detailing and bespoke mirrored vanity units.
How important is lighting throughout the property?
Lighting is integral to the success of any room or property. I believe it’s worth investing in amazing table lamps or a stunning ceiling light that makes a statement, as I did in this home. Good up-lighters and well placed LEDs allow you to create the setting you desire, and I like lights that tell a story and automatically turn on when you enter a certain room.
Generally with the accessories, where do you source them from?
I have built up an excellent little black book of contacts and suppliers from around the globe over the years! I always look out for unique pieces, and as I’m a dealer on Four Rooms on Channel 4 I’m always on the lookout for something special.
What do you look for when collecting art?
Something that I haven’t seen before that really catches my eye is very unique. It needs to spur on an emotion inside me so that I just have to have it. It’s rare, but it does happen – and when it does no one steps in my way!
What kind of properties do you typically work on?
I work on a variety of properties, from penthouses, beach-side super-homes, townhouses, country manors and holiday homes. Certain styles can be fashionable in certain areas of London with clients, but mainly it’s about the client’s needs and how they live, and we can bring the outside environment into the property with styles and if they like to follow certain trends in the area. I always bring something fresh into each property anyway, wherever the location is, and do something unique.
You have had a host of different careers before concentrating on interior design. Have all your experiences shaped the designer you are today?
Yes absolutely! I believe in life when one door closes another one opens and everything in my career has led me to this point. I have always been interested in property, property development and design, so when I added an extra floor to one of my first properties this caught the attention of developer friends – the rest is history as they say!
How has the interior design industry changed over the last decade or so?
The internet makes things a lot easier; you have no excuses not to find the best of the best and exactly what you’re looking for now. With the rise of the internet you have a global shopping village in front of you.
How did your TV work change your life?
I love the TV side to what I do, as it’s a great platform to talk about my own business and it’s always good fun. However I do get spotted everywhere I go now (especially the supermarket)!
You have a family too Celia – how do you like to get away from it all?
I have two children and I love spending time with them. We go for walks, lunch/dinner, play crazy golf, you name it! We’re a very close family and family time is very important to me. I love our holidays and I try to get away with them as much as possible between my work commitments.
See more projects at celiasawyer.com