Meet the interior designer: Lucinda Griffith

What makes a great interior? Top designer Lucinda Griffith shares her secrets...

Lucinda Griffith is an experienced interior designer who has created stunning rooms and spaces with clients all across the UK. She calls her service a 'satnav service for decorating, with the client in the driving seat'. We caught up with Lucinda for a Q&A, and she gave us a fascinating insight into how professionals approach interior design, including why making a space work is the 'cake', and everything else is delicious 'icing'!...

Image: Lucinda Griffith

How did you get started as an interior designer?

My first job was as a Junior Design assistant to Emma Burns at Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler. I didn’t realise how life changing it would be and ended up working for Emma for 10 years and it was the best apprenticeship you could ask for. We worked on jobs of all scales from replacing a single blind for a client to renovating houses of all scales and in all sorts of locations. Seeing how she approached design, learning when to push a client (and myself) to be braver and take risks, and to push a tradesman to try something new was a revelation. It really showed me how a property can be transformed with good design. It also made me appreciate that good design doesn’t have to cost the earth. The principles of it can be applied whether you are using bespoke or Ikea. The problem was that clients had no access to a service that helped them with just the design, as most Interior Designers supply a full package from design to finished room. Through this, clients can access design advice with no other obligations. With so much now being available online, it is possible to help clients source their finished look so that they can purchase it themselves, to suit their own budget and timings, but ending up with a coherent look that makes the most of their budget, their house and their style. I help people with everything from the initial concept layouts, through to what switches and sockets they might have, lighting layouts, flooring choices, curtain design all the way through to wall colours, furniture and upholstery. It is a sort of satnav service for decorating, where the client remains in the driving seat. It is such a rewarding job, and being able to introduce clients to what they can achieve with good design is always a joy.

Image: Lucinda Griffith

Image: Lucinda Griffith

How would you describe your interior design style?

My first priority is always to get the space to work well. Interior design is so much more than wall colour and curtains – it is about space working for you; that’s the cake on which everything else rests. The icing is the finishes (and I do love icing!). So I do push clients to really address problem areas, to be practical about things like where the hoover will live, not putting their laundry in the boot room (why have your clean washing in the dirties room in the house?), making sure their clothes will fit in the allotted space. There are so many details that get looked at too late in a plan. I also find that many people have perhaps misread plans. Just because a plan says there is a shower room, is there actually room for a good sized shower in there? Does the bed they have fit in the room they are designing for it? The list of things to think about can be overwhelming so I try to make it manageable for clients and to help them understand the ramifications of all the decisions that they need to make, many of which they won’t have thought of until too late. As to the icing; well, my style is essentially to ensure that the house reflects the people who live in it and so it is always influenced by my clients. Too often people settle for the safe solutions because they are scared to make a mistake. I am there to give them the confidence to be brave with their choices, and to help them find the scheme that will give them the greatest pleasure. My aim is to enable them to have the confidence to really make the most of their style and all the wonderful products that are out there.

Image: Lucinda Griffith

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Generally, from my clients though I also find Instagram really good for not only new ideas but wonderful old ideas that can be relooked at. I also draw a huge amount of inspiration from the property itself, which is also a client in a way. You can’t force a house into being something that doesn’t suit it. You have to work with it to get a really good result. The same goes for clients! Having said that, I am inspired by colour and I do like to balance plain with pattern. It adds such richness and depth to a space and I think that even in a house where the client wants to mainly use off whites, you have to have colour and some texture or pattern to give contrast and bring a scheme to life. I love a mix of furniture, lighting, pictures and accessories. Finally, I think that whilst you can do a house where everything matches, somehow it loses some of its soul in the process and just becomes a smart hotel. Having a mix of pieces adds depth to a scheme and makes it unique to that client. Lamps and shades can really help with this, particularly if a client is nervous about injecting colour into walls or curtains. It is what turns a house into a home.

Image: Lucinda Griffith

How does lighting play a part in your interiors?

I can’t stress how important it is! Firstly, to have layers of lighting from clean bright light for gloomy winter afternoons, to more moody lighting for the evenings and entertaining. I always say to clients that if they want their Sitting Rooms to work then lamps, lamps, lamps. Everywhere there is a seat there should be light to read by, and a surface to put a drink on. It is amazing how often people don’t allow enough for lighting in a build job, particularly for lamps. There is such a great choice out there now, at affordable pricing – Pooky lead the pack there, so there is no excuse for not having enough lamps! I am also obsessed by having tall enough lamps next to beds. There is nothing worse than a short lamp where the light is lost behind your bookcover when you curl up into bed at the end of the day!

Which recent project(s) are you particularly proud of?

I recently finished a large house in Shropshire which I was thrilled with. The clients embraced the idea of taking risks with the decoration as there was a lot of space and we needed contrast. We did a wonderful zigzag floor using tiles that were just £14 a metre, wallpapered a hallway with dark oak panelling at the base in black and white striped wallpaper, painted a cold and neglected billiard room a fabulous orange and remade some old curtains with a green velvet border and orange piping to pull that room together (below). There are so many things that I loved doing in this house and I love seeing how well it works for the clients now that they are living there.

Image: Lucinda Griffith

Before the refurbishment, it was a country house that was atrophying under the weight of some bad design decisions and the decoration of the early 80’s. It is now full of life, and each room you go into gives such a rush of pleasure.

Image: Lucinda Griffith

Last year I also worked on a holiday rental in Abersoch with a client. It was a rather typical ‘seaside’ house, decorated with lighthouses and all painted in gardenia and had cramped rooms. We opened up the ground floor and have given it a fabulous new Scandi feel, rich with colour and flooded with light, all done on a very tight budget.

Image: Lucinda Griffith

Image: Lucinda Griffith

Do you have a particular favourite corner or room (in your home or anywhere) that you feel is 'all your own'? Or do you have any tips for creating a 'cosy' space?

For a cosy corner, comfort, warmth and light are the vital ingredients. A lamp which casts light from above your shoulder, leaving you in a pool of light is key. I love the large Cleo light with the Caribbean Jenga shade; there is something so comforting about a gathered shade and the injection of colour. You then need a deep armchair that you can really curl up into, perhaps covered in a jewel toned flat velvet with a contrast piping to give a pop of colour and a richly coloured Ikat cushion with a down pad to curl up into, and perhaps a luxurious cashmere or wool throw over the back of the chair. Add a pile of books you have been meaning to get around reading on a low table next to you and suddenly winter evenings look rather appealing.

Pooky's Cleo table lamp with Caribbean Jenga shade

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

That’s actually the hardest question because what I love about Pooky is the variety of lights for different situations. This week though, I think the Eider Pendant. I am rather green obsessed at the moment and I love the recycled feel of the glass as well. I’d love to have a trio of these over an island painted a very dark green in a kitchen with walls in a Setting Plaster pink and curtains in a classic green and white and pink chintz. Hints of the 50’s but done with a contemporary twist. They would look fabulous!

Pooky's Eider pendant light in recycled green glass You can see more of Lucinda's gorgeous work at the Lucinda Griffith Design Consultancy website, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.