Have you ever wanted to get inside the head of a professional interior designer, to understand how to create a beautiful kitchen? We asked Tamsin Leech-Griffiths of Swansea based No.8 Project for her opinions and advice.
Could you tell us about yourself and No.8 Project?
After 13-years of designing womenswear and home wear for Toast, I changed my career to express my passion for interiors. My first project was a barber’s shop on a limited budget. Then, whilst there, a wonderful lady asked me to design their new B and B. They let me loose and embraced my ideas. The result is a beautiful business which has featured in the Guardian newspaper.
Consultancy work for other interior designers followed – including hotels in Austria, Sri Lanka and the Cotswolds, but my main focus has been in South Wales. Last year I was approached by the Interior Design Collective to join their organisation. My work has been growing from single rooms to bars and commercial premises, but my passion is whole home refurbishments, remodelling and complete project management.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
In the words of Sir Paul Smith “you can find inspiration in everything”. I have a strong interest in art, antiques and textiles and I’m constantly absorbing everything around me. In the age of Instagram and Pinterest I’m never stuck out on a design limb and I’ve made some wonderful friends who keep me inspired. Finding solutions to problems brings out my creative side. Getting my hands dirty and delving into a property to truly get to know it drives me to make a home that suits my client.
What materials do you like to use?
I’m a big fan of anything natural that will stand the test of time and develop its own patina. Form and texture play a big role for me, things that age well and retain their beauty are always good.
What is your designing a kitchen process?
I start by asking my client questions about how they want to use the space, how they entertain and even how tidy they are. Storage and layout are paramount and then the pretty bits are often inspired by the clients themselves – their artworks and possessions and the style of the home as a whole.
What kitchen trends do you really like?
I love Terrazzo. I’m so excited to use it an up-coming project. Good classic materials such as marble, brass and parquet will always be strong in my mind too!
Could you tell us about your kitchen design projects?
I’ve recently completed an 18th-century farmhouse kitchen. The clients wanted to retain the integrity of the farmhouse whilst creating a very functional space that could be used for entertaining, cooking and involving their young children.
It cried out for a galley style kitchen, but I wanted them to have somewhere for guests and children to gather. I suggested a long skinny island – it’s really transformed the space. A separate hidden toilet and utility area means they can quickly clear and hide dinner party debris and we even managed to squeeze in a laundry.
I retained traditional features. The Shaker frontals were painted in offbeat Inchyra Blue from Farrow & Ball and the handles were brass. I designed a pantry and breakfast area that used painted fence panels as sliding doors. The result is a real conversation piece and adds dimension to the room. When the clients returned from a holiday, they cried – tears of joy I may add.
What are the similarities between fashion design and kitchen design?
My interest in form, texture and silhouette has proved to be a natural progression across both fields. To be a good designer you should have an interest across all aspects of design. You will often find artwork within my client’s mood boards and I’ve commissioned artists with my colour palette.
What are your tips to achieve a vintage yet modern kitchen?
The key is moderation. If I have vintage pots I use a simple clean shelf to display them. If I use reclaimed copper for a worktop then I’ll combine it with a simple palette. I like to collect vintage pieces but I never display them all at once. I find they need to be curated to work with my interior and create a liveable and functional environment.
How much does the period of a house influence your designs?
Hugely! I’m a sucker for a period property as I find they naturally want to tell a story. I did however recently do a ground floor remodel on an 80’s house. The simple boxy rooms were refreshing to deal with and I enjoyed adding character and interest. I’d love to tackle a 1950s Brutalist home where I’d have to start from scratch.What are the most important things to consider when designing a kitchen?
Usage, longevity and budget!
Real wood or laminate worktops?
Contemporary or traditional kitchens?
Stainless steel or ceramic sinks?
Open or broken plan?
Minimalist or maximalist design?
If you would like to see some examples of Tamsin Leech-Griffiths’ work or to find out more about her, visit No.8 Project. Why not follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. If you are an interior designer and would like to be featured on our blog please contact us at .