Interior designer Celia Sawyer may be familiar to many as a presenter on Channel 4’s Four Rooms. She is also the owner and Director of influential Knightsbridge interior design company Cool10 Luxury Interiors. With an impressive property portfolio and a keen eye for art and collectables Celia is the first port of call for A-List celebs. Her high-profile clients call on her to make their houses into Homes both in the UK and the US.
Here she reveals a day in her busy life as well as her top tips for being a high-end interior designer.
The first thing I always do is get up at 5am and go for a run, rain or shine! Much tougher in the winter, but after my 5 mile run, I feel I can deal with any challenge that comes my way on a day-to-day basis. After a shower and getting myself sorted and dressed for the day, I wake up my 10-year-old Jack and 14-year-old Lili. We always have a 30 minute cuddle in the mornings, and then I prepare breakfast for them and get them ready for the school run. I tend to be naughty and often skip breakfast myself, due to rushing about , although when I do have time, I love a fruit cocktail to start the day and a cup of green tea. I’m normally making toast and putting the washing on at the same time and mornings are very well organised.
As soon as I get into the office, (my PA brings in an essential Costa Coffee), I check all my mail from the night before, many clients live Internationally, so this is very important, then I have a brief meeting with staff regarding anything we may need to catch up on from the night before, just to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Days are always hectic, they vary a lot. 3 out of 5 days, I will be rushing to see clients. I have a chauffeur who collects me and drives me to my meetings, and often there are 4 or 5 clients to see a day, so whilst I’m in between journeys, I can make all my calls regarding the next meetings. Once I arrive at clients homes, whether it is a major sports personality, a movie star or a business person, we run through their requirements, which takes about an hour or so. Meetings, whether with new or existing clients, all have the same time allocated as the rest of the day, I am usually back in my studio working with my team on various designs. The other 2 days are filled with shopping for items, talking to manufacturers either here or overseas, and often organising any television work I am about to do, as well as keeping an eye on the goings on in my property development company.
I have to make sure that I am in tune with new designs for my interiors. I go to as many trade shows as I can, Milan, Paris, London, Birmingham. I enjoy these as it’s very important to know what’s out there. I also allocate a few days a month to looking at up and coming designers, although I am lucky enough to be inundated with introductions , I like to go to schools and colleges to see what is happening as there is so much talent there.
A typical day is up out and meetings with my high net worth clients. Once I have a brief of their requirements, I go back and start creating. This is my favourite part of the job. I love creating a great living space for people and I love creating my mood boards. It really gives a very strong direction on where we are going with the design and overall look of the project. I love finding gorgeous textures and hunt through my many books and samples to find lovely “touchy feely” things to include on my boards. I get great satisfaction out of working on these, and clients love them. I am currently working on a boutique hotel, a very well-known footballers house, and a wealthy International business man’s pad in South West London as well as discussing working with a private aviation company to interior design their aircraft for clients. At lunch times I always attempt to do some weight training in the gym, although days are busy and I’ve already been for a run, it’s very important to me to balance cardio training with weights as it’s the best combination.
My evenings are varied, I love being with my children, cooking for them, and helping them with homework. I love watching a movie with them. I often have to go to Charity events, TV events, or parties with clients, but I make sure that the time I spend is as balanced as possible and really love putting them to bed at night and giving them the support they need by being there. I am usually in bed myself by 9pm if I am not out and about socialising, that way my batteries are recharged for the next day… I always think something exciting is about to happen tomorrow… and it normally does!
Here’s Celia’s top 10 tips for being a top-end interior designer:
1. Train your eye to notice details in an instance
2. Obtain a qualification or get some work experience so that you can learn on the job
3. Practice on friends and family, it will give you confidence and show you what you may be doing wrong.
4. Make a portfolio of pictures to show potential clients
5. Be honest with yourself, find your strengths and weaknesses so that you can find people to compliment you.
6. Read books and look at illustrations so that you know what is in trend now
7. It’s vital to understand architectural principles so learn about these!
8. Make sure you are keeping track of your budgets and what you are spending, or you could come unstuck!
9. Be organised and be able to co-ordinate contractors and your team so that you get your project finished on time and in budget!
10. Listen to your clients, even though they sometimes don’t know what they want themselves, and be prepared for changes!