Posts Categorised: Interviews

Live Your own Way Podcast – Francesca Rowan Plowden

Francesca Rowan Plowden Interior Design

Another week has zoomed by which means I’ve recorded another Live Your Own Way Podcast. Episode Four is with Francesca Rowan Plowden chatting about her past acting work, interior design career to date and how she recently founded the brilliant Design Havens for Heroes charity where designer are making over NHS Staff’s rooms in their own homes.

Design Havens for Heroes NHS logo

There is so much planning at the moment with several teams to ensure a smooth running operation.

I’m honoured to be part of the brands team and also designing some homes in East Anglia. We have brands involved such as including Sofa Workshop, Little Greene, Sofology, Carpetright and Matthew Williamson to name just a very few. There are hundreds of designers looking forward to being assigned their rooms for the lovely NHS people – it’s very exciting.

Francesca tells me how the initial idea came about and what the future holds, now that we are on the verge of starting the physical work.

yellow chairs grand home stately goodnestone hallstately home grand bed wallpaoer Goodnestone Hall rowan plowden

When it comes to her career, I found Francesca’s experience working on stately homes really insightful – the process from start to finish and of course the challenges that might come. It’s always interesting understand how other interior designers develop their concepts, especially on homes with such history.

These images are above are from Goodnestone Park where Rowan Plowden collaborated with Marcus Crane to completely renovate a deserted home.

stately home grand wooden flooring rowan plowdenReception room battel hall grand house rowan plowden

This is her work at Battel Hall on Leeds Castle Estate which we also chat about. A two year restoration project completed in 2018. Maintaining the history and enhancing it with colour.  Absolutely beautiful.

interior design yellow sofa grey walls lovely cosy rowan plowdenelmley nature reserve rowan plowden

Kingshill Farmhouse on the Elmley Nature Reserve.  Francesca transformed a once derelict 16th century farmhouse into a magnificent family home, ready to be let on the Air B&B holiday rental market. I really love the colours she has put together here.

seaside home wooden island rowan plowdenkitchen panoramic view wooden table rowan plowden design

A stunning panoramic view here. This 3 bedroom property was completely redesigned and renovated using modern, clean, minimal styling a few years back and we talk about it on the Podcast and how it has also been greatly received on instagram.

Really hope you enjoy this week’s catch up. I’ve given details on there but will pop some here too about the charity. Find the website here where you can nominate an NHS friend or family anywhere in the UK. Plus there are regular updates on the instagram page.

Here are links to episode one,two and three if you missed them.

Live Your own Way Podcast – Eva Sonaike

eva sonaike designer

It’s week three already on the my Live Your own Way Podcast which means a new guest. Thoroughly enjoyed talking to London based desinger Eva Sonaike about her business, life and journey to becoming owning her own successful interiors company.

A woman after my own heart, her passion for bold textiles and homeware is huge.

eva soinake interior design

Her mission is to help people create unique homes full of colour and elegance inspired by her Nigerian roots combined with a love for Mid Century – inspired by her home in growing up in Germany.

It didn’t take long for a very big and well known store to spot her bold, unique work in the early days which quickly spurred the business on. The brand now stocks in five continents across the world having grown over the last eleven years.

Starting out with cushions, they now produce textiles, lampshades, pouffes, rugs with a brand new exciting addition on it’s way.

eva sonaike cushionscolourful cushions prints

I found this chat so informative –  especially for anyone wanting to enter the industry as she’s so generous with her experiences starting out and how she goes about running Eva Sonaike day to day with the process for creating each collection, from how she combines patterns with colours in the process – to making the business run smoothly in all of the countries she stocks in. There’s so much love and thought that clearly goes in to her work and we discuss this all in great length.

We also talk about Eva’s life as a journalist and TV producer prior to her starting the business.  Also of course her own home colour schemes and whether they reflect what she designs herself.

african prints yellowafrican homeware colours bright bold colourful prints bold

It felt a bit like I was a bit like chatting to an old friend. We haven’t met before but hopefully we will cross paths soon as we seem to have a lot in common having both worked in TV and our love of textiles. Eva is absolutely lovely and her life is really fascinating to learn more about. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as liked recording it.


Live Your own Way Podcast – Laura Jane Clark

Laura Jane Clark Your Home Made Perfect

It was a great week for my new Podcast in the Itunes Design Charts with the first episode. Thank you for listening.  For Episode 2, I’ve chatted to the very lovely Laura Jane Clark. She is an Architect and TV Expert on BBC2’s Your Home Made Perfect amongst other shows such as Shed of the Year and Ugly House to Lovely House with George Clarke.

I learned a huge amount during the interview about renovating do’s and don’ts and how Laura took on an extremely unusual project for her first home after qualifying, which was an unused old underground public lavatory … I know, you’re probably thinking ” What ? ” because that was my reaction initially but after years of back and forth conversations with various London Councils she got the go ahead and turned it in to the most incredible, stunning dwelling.

Toilet renovation in to a beautiful buildingLaura Jane Clark Before Pics Toilets renovation


I’m sharing some images here so you can see the before and after when she talks about it on the Podcast. This is pre renovation.

Underground home renovation


Laura Jane clark lavatory project Renovation underground bathroom luxurious reds golds stylish


Amazing isn’t it ? I love the light streaming in through the ceiling windows.

She also took on a tenament in Glasgow and updated it beautifully – a few images here to use while we discuss it.


Home renovation beautiful stylingHome renovation beautiful colours


Last but not least, Here a few images too below that we talk about, of her current Georgian home.

Before pics of a Georgian Home Renovation Georgian home before pics renovation


Laura Jane Clark Georgian Home Fireplace grey blackGeorgian Home Renovation After pictures deep luxurious colours golds richGeorgian Home Bathroom beautiful colours home pretty golds


But look, I don’t want to share everything now – have a listen to our chat and find out more about her career. There’s some fantastic information about her new website to encourage diversity in her industry Siren Sister  – and a little exclusive too at the end.

You can also have a look at some projects  on her company website Lamp Architects.

Hope you enjoy it and please do subscribe. I’ve got another interesting one next week that I think you will enjoy especially if you love colourful textiles and homeware. Very inspiring.

Images copyright Laura Jane Clark 2020.

My new Podcast Series – Live Your Own Way

Podcast logo graphic design

Hope this weeks is a good one for you. I’m updating briefly because I’ve recorded the first in my new Podcast series called Live Your Own Way. Something that has been on the cards for some time and having a little more time over the last few months at home has encouraged me to start.

Horace Panter Art Japanesing vending machine colourful

Each week, I’m chatting to interesting and inspiring people in the field of design and interiors about their careers, lives and their own homes. Feel really chuffed that guest number one is the lovely Horace Panter, contemporary artist and founder of Two Tone and Ska Band The Specials. I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time after attending one of his Exhibitions in London. His work is right up my street – colourful iconography in style, with a definite music theme running throughout – like his mix tape screen prints, which we have a few of here at home.

He’s had a fascinating career so far, I could’ve asked him a million questions but managed to whittle it down to just quite a few :)

The artwork above is from his Japanese Vending Machines Collection. Some of my favourites, we chatted about his travels and how he chose his colour palette.

American Beach Hut Horace Panter ArtDiner USA colourful Horace Panter art

Horace also creates Cassette Tape pieces. We have some here at home – If you like me, grew up in the era of recording ‘ off ‘ the radio and making up mix tapes then you’ll enjoy the selection of songs he selected as his ultimate 30 minute play list.

If you’d like to have a listen to Horace and I having a chat then here’s the link above.
I hope you enjoy it and if you do – subscribe for more by clicking on my apple podcast link in the right hand column. Next week is another really interesting one too.

Also I must add that my clever tech husband who does this kinda thing for a living usually in music, produced the Podcast. Thanks Andy :)

Really want to say a HUGE thank you to Karina Mansfield who produced the cover for my Podcast (at the top ). Karina is another artist that I love  – and she kindly offered to create the artwork for me. Please check her website out. She does the most brilliant bespoke commissions of people and of pets. She also has a lovely vivid instagram page full of cool pictures. Do have a look !

Interview – Little Greene’s Marketing Director Ruth Mottershead

So, here we are in 2020. Hope you had a good break ? I thought I would start off the year with an inspiring interview I did recently with Little Greene’s Marketing Director  – Ruth Mottershead all about her job role and how this family run company work together to produce their new colours and prints each year. 

As an interior designer I tend to seek out brands that are consistently reliable for both work and home. I’m a huge fan of Little Greene’s environmentally friendly ethos, twinned with their incredible paint and wallpaper palettes, having used them many times.

There were many questions I wanted to ask and hope I’ve covered anything you might like to know too …

Little Greene

Ruth, can you tell me a bit about Little Greene’s history and how the company was founded ?

Little Greene has historical roots dating back to the early 1700s when the Little Greene Dye Works, based on the outskirts of Manchester made paints and dye solutions for the cotton industry. The original home of Little Greene is one of England’s most ancient industrial sites for making paints and Little Greene as we know it today was founded by my father David Mottershead. Colour has always been a huge part of our family life, David trained as a chemist at university and worked in the paint industry for many years before founding Little Greene. My father’s creativity and love for art combined with his technical knowledge inspired him to create beautiful colours and high-quality paints. Little Greene was certainly something that evolved around our home and one of our first colour cards was actually produced around the kitchen table. My brother and I joined my father nine years ago and my role today is at the front end of the business as Marketing Director. My role has been taught both through experience, within the industry environment as well as marketing training – I have a masters in Digital Marketing to assist in the ever changing way our consumers wish to choose colour.

My career started in London as a Landscape Architect, designing outdoor public spaces including urban and green spaces as well as heritage sites. The job was certainly inspired by my love for design and outdoors – a fabulous chance to be creative in the outdoor environment. When the opportunity arose to join my father and brother at Little Greene, it felt like a natural transition particularly as there is a close relationship between exterior/spatial design and interior design. I have been working in the business for nine years and have experienced much change within the business within this time. It has been fantastic to be part of. We have recently moved to a new headquarters located a little further down the road than the original site but standing proudly in the heart of an area with a rich and envied manufacturing pedigree…

 What is your day to day work life like as Marketing Director – is it very different each week ?

 My role is diverse, which is great as every day is different ! My job sees me creating concepts and ideas for upcoming paint and wallpaper collections, choosing colours for new cards and browsing archives at the National Trust for new wallpaper collections. I write content for our marketing material, manage photoshoots and communicate with our customers. I spend a lot of time travelling, visiting our showrooms, journalists, exhibitions, managing our PR strategy and undertaking colour workshops. My job as Marketing Director is to communicate and this means making lots of talks and presentations. I undertake talks with end consumers, interior designers, architects, journalists and internal staff too. Topics tend to be colour related, based on new or existing collections and how to use colours in combination.

My work on a day to day basis focuses on managing our design and marketing team to ensure we complete our campaigns for the year ahead.

Little Greene Little Greene Paint Factory

I’d love to know about the process of making your paints and wallpapers ?

All of our paints are made in our paint factory nestled in the foothills of Mount Snowdon in North Wales. We’re not the biggest manufacturer but we are obsessed with quality, innovation and an enduring commitment to be the best. Our technical team are briefed to make the best paint they possibly can ! Making paint is a complex process. The first stage is about colour and opacity – the dispersion of pigment into water. The pigment particles must be dispersed as finely and evenly as possible to achieve the maximum opacity and whiteness possible. This is very important as this provides the ability to make a full range of colours that cover in the minimum number of coats. The second stage is where we add the binder – this is the ingredient that holds the paint together and makes it stay on the wall. Our quality binders create quality products with properties such as stain and water resistance, prevention of marking and cleanability – all required for busy households ! After this the final ingredients are added to ensure the feel of the paint and the thickness are appropriate to ensure the best result on application of the paint.

Our paints are made using premium quality bases and highly pigmented formulations meaning our products are high in opacity and have fantastic coverage making them practical, beautiful and economical. We continue to make interior and exterior paints in water-based and oil-based finishes and we are the only British paint maker still producing a complete range of traditional and modern finishes.

Our wallpaper is made in Lancashire at my husband’s wallpaper factory ( another family business ) and one that is also steeped in great history. The machines they use to make our wallpapers date back to the 1830s – yes they are still using the same machines today ! Our main method of wallpaper printing is Surface Printing – this creates a beautiful painterly look that combines perfectly with our paint colours.

Our historic wallpaper designs and paint colours are sourced from historic archives. At the start of January 2018 we began a collaboration with the National Trust. With access to their properties, we conducted an extensive research project to uncover original colours and to tell the stories of the people who first enjoyed them. We uncovered over 200 shades from which we created a shortlist of 31 beautiful greens, these formed the ‘ Green’ colour card which has been a great success.

In January, we will launch ‘ National Trust Papers ’ an eclectic collection of contemporary wallpapers based on original designs from the National Trust’s properties. The beauty of working with the National Trust is that many of the designs are still on the walls of properties and can be seen today.

When creating a wallpaper collection, we will rework the historic patterns to make them more suited to the contemporary home, this may mean removing elements of the pattern or making design amends. We will then begin to look at creating different colourways using Little Greene paint colours and selecting 3 complementary paint shades for each design. We try to help our customers to create coordinating schemes in their homes to combine colours and wallpapers with ease.

Little Greene Factory Process Little Greene Grey Paint Bedroom

Do you tend to have ongoing popular colours and shades or does it evolve with trends ?

We certainly do – Grey has been the colour of the last decade ! Grey was a collection we launched in 2013 and was seen as an ideal neutral replacement for magnolia. The trend for grey will continue, although we are experiencing a shift to warmer greys rather than cooler shades ( those with a little blue in them ).

Many factors influence interior design trends, we look to fashion, architecture, market shifts ad well as our surrounding environment. We see trends that last as little as six months or a year and then we experience trends that last much longer.

Prior to launching our ‘ Green ’ collection in 2018, we could see Green being used regularly as a fashion choice. Green has been popular but it is still only just hitting the consumer market. Navy Blues have been a hugely popular choice over the last few years.

It is often the case that the most popular colours are also the oldest. For example, ‘ Celestial Blue ’ was originally discovered on a colourcard from 1807 and can be used in a really contemporary way.

Little Greene Blue

How long does it take to produce each new collection ?

It takes about 12 months from start to finish. Sometimes the ideas for new collections start years in advance ! In September we launch paint collections in London and wallpaper collections are launched in Paris in January. We start choosing and thinking about the colours we want to include in a new collection first then we pass the colours over to our technical team to formulate. There is a lot of toing and froing at this stage as we ensure the colours are as we see them in our minds and on paper! Once the colours have been finalised we start on the colour cards, the photography, the content etc.

The same process is the case for the wallpaper – we start with a concept then begin by scouring the archives for designs we believe fit our brief. We then work with the team to ensure the designs are complete before beginning the colour work.

Little Greene White Paint

Are more people turning to eco friendly paints ?  

People are definitely becoming more conscious of the products that they use and the impact that they have on the environment. Not only are people considering what they eat but also what they put in their environment. The home is an important environment for all of us and we are pleased to be able to make environmentally friendly products that also stand the test of time ! We insist on using only the finest natural, organic and safe synthetic pigments, giving superb depth of colour, high covering power and the long life expected from modern paints. Our water-based paints far exceed all legislation on VOCs with a VOC content of virtually zero. This means you don’t need to worry about solvent contributions to the atmosphere or any respiratory issues, or the smell; they are virtually odourless. Our oil-based formulations contain vegetable oils as a replacement for any harmful solvents. Greater coverage of course means fewer resources used and all of our packaging including our metal cans can be recycled.

Little Greene Paints interiors colour inspiration for home

What do you think is the secret to your company’s longevity ? 

Running a family business is extremely enjoyable and also a challenge, being part of the family means we are in control of our own destiny and can make the decisions that we feel are best for our company in the long term. We have always strived to create beautiful colours and quality products, to the best of our knowledge and ability. We will continue to work hard to adapt to our business needs in all areas of the company in order to create a product we hope our customers will enjoy and love as much as we do.

Little Greene Paint

Is there any advice you can offer to someone not knowing where to start with an entirely new home palette ?

I would always start by looking for inspiration in magazines or online. Create a mood board or Pinterest page to discover the schemes that you like and what you might like to incorporate into your own home. Follow brands that you like on Instagram and make sure you really think about the kind of environment you are looking to create. The next step would be to order a Little Greene colour card. Browse the colours and don’t be afraid to try testers ! The great thing about the colour cards is that they are produced using chips of real paint so you can see exactly how the colour will appear. We would always advise ordering a tester pot and painting large swatches onto different walls so you can see how the varying light affects the colour throughout the day – this is really important. A colour that you see in an image may look very different in your own home, depending on light, shape and proportion of the room, existing colours etc.

If you are struggling with combining colour, our Colour Scales families provide four strengths of the same pigment which can be used in combination for a really coordinated finish- you can find these on the Little Greene Colours of England card. If you need more help then visit one of our stockists, showrooms or our website to get more information and helpful tips on combining colour and how to choose. If you are really stuck, then a colour consultation could certainly help.

Little Greene Paint Green Home Walls

Which colours are going to be big for Little Greene in 2020 ?

 Green is still popular and is certainly taking off in a big way in the consumer market. Dark Green such as ‘ Puck ’ is being used on woodwork and kitchen cabinets in combination with brass and golds. Earthy, muted tones such as ‘ Boringdon Green ‘ and ‘ Ambleside ‘ are perfect for creating calm in the bedroom whilst the bold brightness of ‘ Sage & Onions ‘ creates energy and vibrancy in a lively kitchen.

We predict the use of warmer neutrals and a slight shift away from the cooler grey tones to take place. Natural warm colours such as ‘ Portland Stone,’ ‘ Clay ’ and ‘ Bath Stone ’ are expected to be popular. Warm neutrals are perfect for creating restful living spaces that bring comfort to the home.

Little Greene Green Paint in Bedroom

A huge thanks to Ruth for sharing her time and knowledge. Hope you enjoyed this interview ?

If you want to check out Little Greene’s amazing paints and wallpapers you can do so here.

You can check out some of my past interviews here.

Also please do sign up to my newsletter for updates – just on the right hand side of my blog.

All images © Little Greene 2020.