Interview with an interior designer
We spoke to interior designer and Persimmon brand ambassador Christopher John of @cji_design about his style inspirations and why he chose a Persimmon new-build.
All images credited to @cji_design
Hi Chris! So, what lead you to buying a Persimmon new-build?
I picked a Laurel, and chose Persimmon for several reasons. First was the functionality of the house as a whole - it offered solutions to problems we were facing at the time in our old home. Then there’s size of the rooms, including the shape and height of the ceilings. Also the quality of the build and finally the layout. I bought this house like an artist buys a blank canvas. It’s my blank canvas to inject my design style into and explore my love for interiors. Each room has its own identity while still being able to tell a story throughout linking the spaces in some way.
As a freelance interior designer, where do you take your inspiration from?
Inspiration for me can start from something as small as a piece of material or the colour of a wall in a restaurant. On a daily basis, I collect images from magazines, books and social media platforms, especially Instagram. Instagram is a fantastic way to get inspiration from usable, liveable spaces. People showcase their homes for all to see and this is one of the most effective ways for me to collate inspiration for my design concepts.
Interior design books continuously offer me not only inspiration but tips and advice. A fav of mine is House of Hoppen by the amazing interior designer Kelly Hoppen – Kelly creates stunning designs which are so perfectly executed and complementary, from the artwork on the walls to the textured cushions on the sofas.
Two favourite trends of mine, which I'll always adore, are mid-century modern and monochrome. I remember watching The Shining and becoming more obsessed with the interiors and what was happening in each room, forgetting about the actual movie because the style was so interesting and exciting. I've designed the lounge in my own home in this style and it offers such a warm and inviting space, for me a timeless style for sure. Monochromatic interior design is so clean and elegant, it offers a very sharp finish that can be softened with textured furnishings and overall give you such a calming space.
When collecting inspiration, continue to be true to your style and adapt what inspiration you have, this is when the magic happens and you create your interpretation in your style keeping it unique but echoing influences from elsewhere.
In summary, magazines, books, places I visit, other interior designers, social media and my environment.
Chris is a big fan of a monochrome palette
When designing a room, what is the most important factor for you?
What the purpose of the room is for, how often will it be used and by who? Sounds simple but with the experience I've had it is very easy to run off page when working with a design and before you know it, you’ve created obstacles or impractical design choices. As I progress through a design, I always come back to “the purpose of the room” as this really does establish the groundwork of a design. By this I mean you can identify how far you can push a design, how practical it needs to be and if there is scope for a show-stopping focal point. You wouldn’t have soft lighting or gorgeous accessories in a room with heavy foot traffic and used by your kids. It's just about being wise in your choices and as soon as you know the purpose of the space you can then begin exploring your ideas and get creative.
What’s your favourite room to design?
It has to be the lounge! The reason being, you're creating a space that offers comfort, warmth and escapism. More than ever, our homes have become our sanctuaries, a place to escape from our busy schedules and the rush of life. For me, you should be able to walk into a lounge and instantly switch off, relax, unwind, sit on your couch and let that big sigh of relief out and be immersed in “your world” – and everyone’s world is different and that's the exciting part. This is why the lounge is my favourite space to design; yes I am designing it, but I have my client in mind at all times.
Chris loves the comfort, warmth and escapism you can create in a living room
What’s the best thing about interior design on new-build homes?
Not having to use your budget on things like new windows, a new boiler, wiring and so on. You're free to explore how you want to make your new build house into a home. You can focus on the aesthetics and the exciting things like what new furniture you are going to have, whilst having the reassurance that everything is going to work without needing to be replaced! There's something so special about being the first person in your new home to put the first colour on the wall or the new luxury vinyl down on the floor. It instantly becomes your own as soon as you begin to inject soul and life into your home.
Chris' new build is bursting with personality
Following on from that, what are the challenges of designing the interior of a new-build home, and how did you overcome them?
In terms of challenges, from a practical point of view these were very minimal; if any. Luckily, I have a great team that carries out all my joinery work etc so they always find a solution to my never-ending demanding design needs!
The challenge is seeing past the white rooms and not allowing my ideas and designs to overlap from one room to the next and saturate one another. Even as a designer, walking into a completely brand-new home with no past or no soul was overwhelming at times. To overcome this, it is key to have a clear direction for each room. Create mood boards, stick your inspiration on the actual walls in each room, get samples of wallcoverings and paints literally get everything up. Then live with it for a few weeks - allow yourself time to adjust and become familiar with your designs and your ideas. It’s this time that will allow you to slow down and address any changes you want to make, and give you the headspace to stop from rushing into making wrong design choices or blending your ideas. It's a simple process that works well and helps progress in the right direction.
What’s your best advice when it comes to lighting?
Lighting is what can make or break a room; it’s essential you get it right. There’s no point splashing out on gorgeous furniture or expensive paint to then have one point of light in the room and for it to be too warm or too dull. For example, in my lounge, I have a central ceiling light which is very soft when on, two wall lights and two lamps. Some may say this is overkill but it allows you to instantly change the mood and vibe of your room depending on what light source you use.
Have a decent amount set aside in your budget for lighting in your home; when you buy a new build don’t just do the easy option and shove a shade up. Think about the room, its purpose and the mood you want to create. There are so many amazing lighting options out there now and if you get it right and really think about it, lighting becomes part of the overall finish of your room.
To Chris, an amazing home is a true representation of the person who lives there
What’s the most amazing home you’ve ever visited?
This is a hard one to answer… there have been so many gorgeous homes I have had the privilege of seeing. For me, an “amazing home” doesn’t mean it is the biggest, has masses of land or is kitted out in the best of the best. An amazing home for me is walking through a door and being transported to another world, completely indulged in the experience of the interior design present throughout. You know that feeling when you look around and you can hear the person who lives there talking in so many ways in each of the rooms because their home is so well suited to them, it’s so unique and a true representation of them. That to me is an “amazing home”.
Finally, what’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Making a design come to life and then hearing my client express how happy they are. Designing interiors is such a personal and subjective thing to do. I'm always grateful for the opportunity but also feel extremely lucky for the trust a client gives me to make their interior dreams become a reality. When a space is finished, I always have to stand back, take it all in and think to myself “I did this”. It's also so interesting to see how I can create a design for a client with completely different taste and style to me, but manage to capture the very essence of them and what they're about.
Keep your eyes peeled for the next part of our interview with @cji_design, where he tells us his interior design predictions for 2022 and how he went about styling our newest showhome.
Take a look at some of Chris' stunning work on Instagram @cji_design
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