Interview: Interior Expert Sophie Robinson

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I have a little interview here with Sophie Robinson whom you may well know as a judge on BBC2s Great Interior Design Challenge and Home Expert TV Presenter on ITV’s This Morning –  who can fill you in on just how she achieves all of the above.

Have you ever wondered how an interior designer balances an interior design career and home life … along with tv presenting, interior styling and running colour courses.

I’m a fan of Sophie’s work so it is a real pleasure to be featuring her here today on ‘ Inspire Me’ … 

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Sophie, Was it always your plan to become an interior designer ?

I was always passionate about doing up my bedrooms as a young kid and that quickly spread to other rooms in the house. My mum is hugely creative and that really had a positive impact on me. She was also really encouraging and gave me free reign to design my bedroom and help with other areas too. She really nurtured my creativity and gave me confidence. She did such a good job that my brother Edward Robinson is an interior stylist too !

You’ve just moved in to a lovely new house. What made you fall in love with it and is this your forever home ? 

Yes I think it will be our forever home. We’ve been working hard and saving like mad to get here. It’s a four-bedroom farmhouse in the Sussex country and we have 5 acres of paddock and garden, then surrounded by 100acres of ancient woodland so yes- it’s pretty dreamy ! The house however is a bit charmless so my husband, who’s conveniently a builder, and myself are going to really relish the design. The house isn’t listed so we’re hoping we can really release our creativity on it. We’re up for a big remodel !

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There are some fabulous colour trends this year – are you working with them a lot ?

Colour trends come and go and I’m always fascinated to know what they are but as a devout colour lover I’m never greatly swayed. Over years I’ve developed my own colour palette and I like to work with that. However I love the way trends can shake me out of a style rut and encourage me to try something new.

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The ultimate question – what is your favourite colour ?

Neon pink. That was hard.

When working with clients on their home designs – do you help people develop their style or do most people already know what they are looking for?  

Some people have a very strong idea of what they like and others don’t have a clue. The true skill of an interior designer is to draw out the individual’s style and taste and then make it work in their home. 

How did you get in to television presenting ?

It’s pure luck ! My first job was on ITV’s 60 minute makeover and one of the researchers went to Art College with my brother and invited me to screen test. I find in this industry it’s really important to make good connections with everyone you meet, and do a good job. Being self employed you’re only ever as good as your reputation. One of the directors on 60 MM was, almost 10 years later, casting for judges on GIDC and put my name in the pot.

Can you pick a favourite room from the many you have judged on the Great Interior Design Challenge ? 

No !
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Do you find it easy to balance work and home life? If so, please do tell us how … ? :)

No I do not. It’s a nightmare. After filming three series with loads of time away from home and moving house and having an incredibly busy first 6 months of this year I’ve decided to take a break. My health was suffering and it’s not worth it. So I’m taking the school summer holidays off to spend with my son and nest in my new home. Sometime you have to honour the power of No and get some control back. I think watching your children grow up has to be the most important thing. Although I love my career so don’t panic, I’m not going anywhere, just dialling it down for a bit.

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You’re currently working with This Morning and Good Morning Britain on ITV, offering ideas for home makeovers. 

Yes that has been great fun. Live TV is very different to pre-recorded stuff. The amount of work and organising that goes into 5 minutes of live broadcast is insane ! But the This Morning crew are just so delightful as are Holly and Phil.

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As well as working with clients and presenting (and of course being a Mum), you also run courses. Who would you recommend them for ?

I run Interior Design Master classes with Daniel Hopwood, which are a great day for anyone who’s passionate about interiors. Our guests include people who’d like to go into it as a career or maybe currently studying. Then there are plenty of people who are doing up their own home and are looking for ideas and knowledge and also people who want a lovely day out and a nice lunch ! I also run courses on Colour, which is a more hands on, and creative workshop with ideas to update your home or your wardrobe. There are more dates coming up in the autumn and you can book on our Eventbrite page.

What is the best bit of advice you can give to any budding interior designers or presenters ? 

If you want to become an interior designer you need training. In today’s professional market interior designers have high levels of qualifications and computer skills. If you want to set up your own company rather than work for someone else, you’ll need not only interior design but also business training. It’s a very competitive industry and you need grit to make it ! As for becoming a TV presenter, that’s much harder to orchestrate. I’d aim to becoming the best in your field, make sure you are visible on social media so that when casting directors are looking for new talent, your profile sticks out. It probably would be a good idea to do YouTube videos too. Then make sure you have another career to fall back on, as TV is notoriously fickle !

We’re already in August (wow !) – what do you have planned for the rest of 2016 ? 

I’ve been flat out for the first part of this year so I’m going to take it easy over the summer. I’ve just started working with a business coach and my focus is growing my brand and my social media platforms so I can have the enviable life of flexible working hours, where and when I like ! While continuing to inspire people to get creative in their own spaces by sharing all the know-how I’ve accrued over the years. Watch this space !

Thanks, Sophie. Fantastic advice regarding the world of television  – and your love of colour is truly inspiring. 

If you’re interested in Sophie and Daniel’s courses – then do click on that link. I rather fancy it myself.  You can also follow her Youtube channel here and her lovely colourful instagram page here.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this interview with Sophie – do leave a comment or tweet me @lucylovesyablog with your thoughts and also what colour combinations work for you in your home ? 

Have a good one.

Lucy x

Image credits: 1. Luca Sage. 2,3,4, 5 & 7 by Alan Callender. 6 by Sophie Robinson.

You can also follow me on Pinterest here.

Chilling Our Boots with a Homemade Raspberry & Choc Ice Cream Recipe

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I’ve got a Homemade Raspberry and Choc Ice Cream with Mint Recipe for you today.

It’s still very much trial and error with my attempts to grow fruit and vegetables in the garden. We’re enjoying it though. My friend Lou told me that raspberries grow easily so of course I rushed out and bought a plant last year – and she was right. They do.

Hoe Grown Raspberries

Betsey loves them and there’s nothing nicer than popping outside and helping ourselves to a few organic raspberries – and I seriously don’t want to waste any of them. In fact, I’d go as far to say that I’m obsessed with not wasting anything that we’ve grown. It tastes so good and we’ve spent so long nurturing everything. I probably sound like that lady with the dungarees from the 70s sitcom ‘ The Good Life ‘  – but we have a long way to go before we have pigs roaming in the garden.

Home Made Ice Cream

Anyway, we decided that as we have practically been melting in the heat this week it would be a good time to use our new ice cream maker and try out our own simple recipe. As we have sampled it and like it a lot..  ( it’s so intensely fruity ) – thought you might like it for yourself ? You don’t actually need a machine to make this but if you do have one  – saves a little bit of time. It’s really quick and easy.

Ice Cream RecipeIce Cream Recipe on Lucy Loves Ya

Ingredients.

1 and a half cups of raspberries.

200 ml  extra thick double cream.

75 g white sugar.

40 g dark chocolate chopped into small pieces.

1/ 4 teaspoon of vanilla bean extract.

a few sprigs of fresh mint to decorate.

Method.

Puree 1 cup of raspberries and chop most of the other ones in to little pieces – adding them a bit later in to the ice cream mix for texture and also save a few for topping.

Add the sugar, chopped raspberries and vanilla extract to the puree and mix together. Then add the chocolate, saving a few pieces back. Place the mixture in the fridge to cool for 30 mins.

Next put it on the ice cream maker or mix steadily until the consistency has thickened a little. Pour it in to a bowl suitable for the freezer and then sprinkle the last few bits of chocolate over the top.

Pop it in to the freezer, ideally over night but for at least 4 hours. You have ice cream !

Raspberry ice cream recipe

To serve  – add a few fresh mint leaves and raspberries to the top – it looks nice and colourful but also adds lovely flavour.

If you try it out – hope you enjoy it – do let me know how you get on ?

Have a good one.

Lucy x

You can find more recipes of mine and inspiration from others on my Pinterest boards.

Three Bedroom Mood boards for a Makeover

Pinks & Blues Moodboard

Three Bedroom Mood boards for a makeover today as a new look bedroom is on the horizon. In fact, I’m not sure you’ve ever seen my bedroom before but you will once it has had a little makeover. My mind has been buzzing with possibilities. I know for sure that I want to change the flooring from carpet to wood. I think it will make the room feel more in keeping with the style of the house. We have wooden floors downstairs too so as long as we have some good felt underlay underneath it will be soundproof and add more character to the room. In the long term it will be more practical too.

Realising how important the floor will be to the overall scheme, I have teamed up with flooring brand Quick-Step who are leaders in their field, to discuss how my final choice of floor will impact on the look and feel of the bedroom.

I have lots of Quick-step samples to choose from as they manufacture all sorts of trend-lead flooring including luxury vinyl, hardwood and laminate – However, for my bedroom, and we are going for their hardwood collection which is in fact engineered wood flooring, which comes with many benefits. It looks fantastic and also offers the same appearance of solid wood due to its real wood top layer. It’s very easy to install which is good, plus it’s hardwearing and easy to look after – which is just what we need. Our local flooring fitter has also given it the thumbs up, so I’m sold and looking forward to getting started.

Next comes the ideas for colours and textures. Still in the early stages but I have had some fun picking out my favourite samples and seeing what palettes might work with them. Quick-Step has a huge selection to suit everyone’s taste, from trend leading greys and whites, to more traditional browns and golden tones, so I wasn’t short on choice.

Bedroom Boudoir mood board.

The first one above is from the ‘ Compact range ‘. I like the idea of similar coloured floors to downstairs so that it flows well from room to room. It also means that they can be painted if we ever decide to.

Pink & Blue Moodboard

The soft shades compliment it and hopefully give a restful and feminine feel ( sorry, Andy ).

Blue & Pink Moodboard Close Up

I think the colours would be more in the bedding with white walls. A stronger turquoise to pull it all together and a little splash of gold to add warmth and a bit of opulence. :)

 

Green 7 Yellow Moodboard

Green and Serene mood board… Almost.

Yellow is very much on trend at the moment but I love it all the time whether it is or isn’t. Of course in a bedroom you don’t necessarily want too much as it is a stimulating colour but
maybe a chair covered or an art print or two will make it cheery and lovely to wake up to. Some earthy green  – maybe a plant or I can make some blinds with botanical prints. Gentle pinks always seems to sit nicely alongside these two colours.

Green Yellow Moadboard

The white washed floor is Quick-Steps’  Castello ‘ range and I really love it. With white walls it will make a very light and peaceful room. You can see the grain of the wood still which is really appealing too.

Green & Yellow Moodboard

What do you think of this colour – way ? I’d love to find a vintage style brass lamp to complete the look.

Beach Hut Moodboard Inspiration

Beside the Seaside mood board

Obviously a seaside inspired room was going to make its way on to my blog wasn’t it ? If not for Andy and I  then it would suit one of the girls’ rooms.

Beach Hut Moodboard Textures

I think the rustic feel of the wooden flooring here also helped to conjure visions of stripes and pastel hues. It is from the ‘ Imperio ‘ range at Quick-Step and is described as ‘ rough white oak ‘  – the texture is lovely to touch.

Beach huts and rainbow colours always remind me of fun family days so it would be a happy haven to retreat to.

A striped duvet set or some wallpaper would definitely add a coastal element.

Beach Hut Moodboard

Blue and white is probably the most popular combination but I don’t think I would be able to resist the odd pop of yellow or pink – or both.

So now the big question  – which is your favourite – or do you have your own idea of what would look good ? Do leave me a comment or tweet me @lucylovesyablog. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Keep your eyes peeled for the finished bedroom – and in the meantime I also have an updated design area nearly finished too ..

Lucy x

This is a collaboration with Quick-Step. All opinions are my own.

You can find me on instagram if you’d like some more image inspiration.

Sweetpea & Willow – 10 Year Anniversary …

Sweetpea & Willow Lansdown 3 seater sofa in Azure velvet from £3290, Eicholtz Asscher nickel coffee table £1495 (4)

The Landsdowne Modular Sofa and all the other pieces on this post are from Sweetpea & Willow who are actually celebrating their 10th Anniversary this year. You may well know of them already – they have a huge showroom in London as well as an online store. They are a name that I am familiar with for good quality, high end french furniture and home and garden accessories and I love their ” Handmade in London ” section.

I have noticed that they evolve along with the trends and colour palettes of each year but always know their own style and do it really well.

Sweetpea & Willow Vintage Rose Berkley collection armchair ú1495, antique mercury glass lamp ú195, Eicholtz connor side table ú1195 (7)

Vibrant pink and gold. I’m sold. The Vintage Rose Berkley armchair here with its deep buttons and fixed studs is dreamy. It’s designed and made by Sweetpea & Willow with responsibly sourced hardwood frames. It comes in different fabrics and sizes from the armchair all the way up to a 4 seater.  Really, really like this and am now wondering how I can make it appear in my living room sometime soon. Hmm. Funnily enough I have been looking for a new standing lamp and this one is great for reading.

 

Sweetpea & Willow Bancroft 3 seater sofa in silver from ú2980, Bancroft armchair in silver from ú1580, Bancroft footstool in silver from ú685Sweetpea & Willow Bancroft armchair in silver from ú1580 (2)More neural tones for a tranquil space, with these pieces from Sweetpea & Willow and some splashes of dramatic hues. My eyes are drawn straight in to that lovely glass Eichholtz tray.

Sweetpea & Willow St Jorges Bed in Platinum fromú2265 (kingsize) (4)

I’m not sure that I would ever leave this St Jorge Bed. I think if choosing a fabric I would have it made up in the cotton but you can also get it made in silk ( wow ) linens and velvets ( double wow ). A bed is usually the centre piece for a bedroom and something we don’t change regularly so – it’s important to have one that you love getting in to. After all we spend about 26 years of our life sleeping, apparently.

Sweetpea

Here is my wishlist on some current Sweetpea & Willow items. As you can see – I’m all about the gold at the moment. It adds warmth to a room but is super glamorous too. I’ve always been a huge fan of tropical prints and interiors and glad to see they have a selection of luscious pineapple products including the jar .. but do check out their book ends too. I will definitely be buying the ‘ Good Vibes Only ‘ picture.. I think it says it all for a happy home.

How do you like Sweetpea & Willow’s style ? I recommend checking their garden ranges out too …

 … and are you with me on the Wishlist ? Leave me a comment under this post or tweet me @lucylovesyablog …

Lucy x

This is a collaboration with Sweetpea & Willow. All opinions are my own.

Palms Trees, A Sri Lankan Monkfish Curry Recipe and Coconuts.

The Elephant Stamp Napkins

After the last curry recipe here on my blog, I figured another one might go down as well so here’s a Monkfish curry . You all seemed to like it and the feedback I received was ace. Thankfully my clever Dad was very happy to oblige and came up with this recipe curry and let me tell you – it is good. I ate it all and then scraped the plate clean at the end.

I also thought it would be a great opportunity to try out my lovely new napkins and matching cushions. They’re really tropical and match the curry theme perfectly, don’t you think ?

If you don’t know of them already – I’d like to share a bit of background info about The Elephant Stamp who I received my Safomasi tropical textiles from –   and then I will move on to the recipe and a tasty non alcoholic cocktail too.

Monkfish Curry

If you love homeware that has a story to tell then The Elephant Stamp online store will be right up your street.

They personally selects all of their homeware designs by global brands. The printed illustrations are inspired by places such as Devon, The Netherlands but then further afield in Kerala ( I have a feeling this is where my napkins and cushion print inspirations are taken from ) and they even have hand embroidered items from Women Artisans in Mexico. All very beautiful.

Elephant Stamp Cushion

The Elephant Stamp’s aim is to connect us to the maker of each piece and to understand the origin –  which also will helpfully enable them to carry on making their carefully, well made products for a long time to come … Which is good news for us all.

They sell some beautiful throws that I am sorely tempted by. Do check them out.

Sri Lankan Curry

Now on to the Sri Lankan Monkfish Curry recipe.

If you’d like to give it a go then here is what you will need. This should serve 4.

1 kilo Monkfish – diced, skinned and de – boned.

Turmeric powder.

1 red onion – thinly sliced.

2 tablespoons groundnut oil ( you could use sunflower oil instead )

3 medium sized tomatoes – well chopped.

1 teaspoon seasalt, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1 teaspoon grated root ginger, chilli flakes, ground cumin seeds, ground black pepper seeds, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 inch cinnamon stick, handful fresh curry leaves, 1 tablespoon of tamarind water ( you can find this online or in some supermarkets )

1 litre –  coconut milk.

1 lime.

Rice – enough for 4 people.

Coriander, extra lime pieces and 1 grated coconut to garnish.

NB: Keep the shell of your coconut for serving your cocktail  – you will need 6 ice cubes, coconut milk ( you will already have enough from the carton from the curry recipe )  and 3 mugs of fresh pineapple juice.

 

Monkfish Curry Recipe copy

Method

Marinate the monkfish in a light powdering of turmeric for 10 minutes and then set aside.

Heat the oil gradually and then add the onion and fry until soft. Add the tomatoes and fry together with the onion until well blended. Now add the salt, crushed garlic clove, grated root ginger, chilli flakes, ground cumin seeds, ground black pepper seeds and sugar. Also the add the cinnamon stick plus a handful of fresh curry leaves  and a level tablespoon of tamarind water. Stir well  before adding a full mug of coconut milk and stir well until all well mixed together.

Now introduce the marinated monkfish and cook gently for for only a few minutes until it is tender. Finally add the juice of one squeezed lime.

If you are cooking this to eat with rice – prepare and boil the rice ready to co – ordinate with the curry being ready to eat.

Monkfish Sri Lankan Curry

Plate up your meal and then dress with coriander, extra lime pieces and some grated coconut.

Pina Colada

All you need now is a refreshing drink to have with your curry – so blend the ice cubes or crush if you don’t have a blender with the coconut milk and pineapple juice  and serve in the left over coconut shells. Add some straws  – and you’re away !

Pina Colada Non Alcoholic

Hope you enjoy this recipe by my Dad, if you do try it out –  and love my new napkins and cushions from The Elephant Stamp as much as I do ?

Any questions or comments – leave me a comment under this post and I will get right back to you.

Have a good one.

Lucy x

The cushions and napkins were gifted to me by The Elephant Stamp. All opinions are my own.