Grand Designs finalist, Stephanie Hughes, talks pattern, colour and lighting

Can you tell us a bit about your style and what inspires you?

I’m in love with design and over the years I’ve pieced together everything that inspires me and I owe most of it to my childhood years growing up in the country alongside my parents running an organic farm shop. I’ve always been captivated by the power of nature, whether it is our personal wellbeing or the impression we make on the environment, I’m intent on flowing with natural theory rather than fighting it. My go-to-style approach combines soft patterns, tactile natural materials and muted colours with subtle contrast of bold, statement pieces. Every now and then I flip that over and mix up interiors with a vibrant colour scheme and eye-catching wallpaper. I’m known for creating spaces that are harmonious, elegantly refined and display a unique reflection of the people who live or work there. I aspire to connect people to spaces and heighten their awareness of what is around them. I can adapt to interesting styles and express my dramatic side with large-scale accessories and exotic patterns. As a designer you collect style inspiration wherever you go and from the people you meet. My tip to anyone trying to discover their own style is to absorb everything that inspires them, write it down and ask yourself why you like that building, fashion brand, artist or photographer and it will enlighten your creative thinking.


(Stephanie's 'Famous places that never existed' roomset at the Grand Design Show)- Photo credit, Lucy Williams

Congratulations on being a finalist at the Grand Designs room set competition of 'Famous places that never existed'- You used some Pooky products, can you tell us why you chose Pooky?

Thank you very much! I was instantly drawn to the exquisite range of decorative lights Pooky offer. In fact I remember the day I was sourcing a lamp for my room set and I had key ideas at the forefront of my design aim e.g. elegant, effortless and rich in colour. I had spent some time browsing through various retailers and then I fortunately came across the Pooky Wisteria lamp and my eyes were fixated. I practically shouted “that’s the one” and quickly made contact to secure it. I adored the elegant glass design that effortlessly shows off the olive green braided silk flex flowing through the middle. I simply love touches like that! The lamp is beautifully designed and looks stylish when paired with a Pooky black lamp shade that is soft in texture, and has a quality silk finish. I was so impressed with how the lamp radiated a soft, warm glow and enhanced the paradise vibes in the room set. I feel privileged to have showcased Pooky lighting at the Grand Designs Live show and there is no doubt that I will be sourcing more lights from you in the future.


(The Wisteria table lamp as part of Stephanie's roomset at the Grand Designs Show)- Photo credit, Lucy Williams

Here at Pooky we love to mix and match colour and pattern, do you have any guidelines for doing this successfully in the home?

For me, it’s all about balance. I often hear that people are anxious to use contrasting patterns or colours in their home because the scheme may be overwhelming. It depends on what effect you want to create, if you sway towards a dramatic side use lots of bold colour that has depth and creates a backdrop for contrasting accent colours. Before applying paint, get some sample pots of your favourite colours, paint each colour on to a separate sheet of A4 or A3 paper and watch how the colours get on. You’ll notice if one colour out shines the other or simply enhances the undertone; it is always helpful to test this relationship in artificial and natural light. If you desire clashes of patterns, I tend to have a feature wall and then introduce smaller interest of contrasting patterns displayed on furniture. I recently designed a living room that had a plain orange sofa accessorised with striped, colourful cushions set against a bold, large-scale midnight blue, botanical wall. Using a complimentary colour scheme gives you scope to incorporate bold clashing patterns as long as you balance the proportions. I always remember a tip that my tutor gave me during my studies, if you are in doubt about proportions of colour and pattern, take a photograph of your space and change it to black and white. Now you will be able to judge the proportions of light and dark colours and the activity of patterns, if the photograph has overly dark areas you need to add light through accessories or furniture and vice versa. It is a simple but effective way to get a better perspective of colour and patterns in your space.


(Stephanie's stunning roomset as the Grand Designs Show)- Photo credit, Lucy Williams

Lighting is proving to be a key player in interiors this year, do you have any stand out interior predictions for 2016?

Lighting has come a long way over the past few decades. I’m always astounded by the latest technology and LED progress. I’m a big fan of lighting; I was probably a moth in my past life because I always gravitate towards light and instinctively go to sit next to a window in any room. Lighting can really affect our moods and wellbeing and I often feel it is easily overlooked in residential interior design because we are keen to jump straight into colours or furniture and flooring. But when you stand back and think about what really shows off our choice of colours and furniture is light, and we should focus more on this. Lighting design is constantly changing and aside from the technological advances, I predict aesthetically we are going to go above and beyond. You’ll see designers inspired by the past and future, creating lights that are extra-large in scale and put a new spin on illumination. A mixture of hard materials such as bronze, stainless steel and brass are expected to enhance lighting design this year. I adore a statement pendant light; it can really bring drama to the scheme and help redefine open living spaces. I often read ‘Dezeen’ and there was an article about talented designers Daniel Rybakken and Francisco Gomez Paz unveiling their latest chandeliers for Luceplan, which involved experimentation with LED lighting and suspended steel cable design, I’m excited to see what’s next?


(Stephanie used a range of lighting in her roomset at the Grand Design Show to create this spectacular look) - Photo credit, Lucy Williams

What’s next for Stefa Interior Design?

It’s been an exciting past few months! I’ve met lots of inspiring designers and wonderful suppliers along the way. I’m currently working on a residential project in West London, it has an open plan kitchen and living space that leads out to a beautiful south facing garden and the design reflects contemporary elegance with plenty of personality and an artistic flair. It is so much fun to pursue your design ideas and be part of the whole process. I also have freelance projects lined up over the summer, designing commercial spaces for corporate industries.

Finally we’ve got to ask you, what is your favourite Pooky light and why?

Well, I have to say the Pooky Wisteria lamp that I used in my Grand Designs room set. I adore everything about it, the contrasting nickel base and elegant green glass can be paired with all most any Pooky lamp shape. You can mix it up across the seasons, it is a neat way to try out pattern trends and refresh your interior. I do love the Pooky pendant light range too, in particular the ‘Bonnie’ range, I’m so happy to see coloured glass making a come-back this year, and it looks beautiful when shaped as a pendant light and is an interesting way to introduce a subtle colour into your design scheme.


(The Wisteria table lamp in nickel and green glass with 40cm Straight Empire shade in black silk) Shop the Wisteria table lamp and view our entire range of table lamps here

Visit Stephanie's website to catch up on all of her latest design projects and news.