OUT OF OFFICE Centre stage
Interior designer COLLETTE HANLON, of Home Stagers, tells us about her business and a peculiar problem with her first car...
Tell us what you do at Home Stagers?
Home Stagers is an interior design practice; we work primarily with property developers, estate agents and home owners to provide an exclusive show home design service. Usually, we would begin at the planning stage with our client, looking at lighting and the position of electric sockets in relation to furniture layouts. We specify finishes, together with advice on kitchen and bathroom design. Some clients come to us much further down the line, when they have an empty property that is stuck on the market. In this situation we carry out a site survey and propose a premium all-in design service in which we can deliver a complete show home within two to three weeks. We also offer our clients a tailored high end result with the flexibility of renting as an option.
How and when did you start out?
I have always been creative. I studied at art college, then worked initially as a window dresser and visual manager. I was also involved with property and returned to college to qualify as an interior designer while our children were small, at the same time launching my business from the kitchen table, so to speak! Home Stagers was established 17 years ago and I first came into the company in 2006 when it was still a relatively new concept. In the last two years I have become the owner and creative director and steered the business into new and exciting directions, which include a high end interior design project in two exclusive developments in Belgravia.
What’s the first thing you look for when you walk into a property that you’re about to work on?
It has to be the light and the proportion of the rooms. Obviously, the architectural style has a key bearing and if the project is a show home then it is critically important to take into consideration the client’s target market.
How do people react when they see their property after you’ve worked on it?
It can be very emotional, in a good way, particularly with bespoke interior design projects, when your client feels that you have surpassed expectations! With show homes our aim is always to create a really desirable home that will enable the agent to market extensively and result in a sale for our client. It is very rewarding.
What’s your favourite or most interesting project?
My favourite projects are interesting character conversions with large open plan spaces; we regularly work with a client in Essex who builds the most amazing barn conversions! The Essex market is quite daring and this enables us to have some fun with our designs.
Have you ‘home staged’ your own home?
I often get asked this question! The truth is that my own home is quite an eclectic, comfortable family home, complete with two mischievous wire fox terriers. I have always had a passion for all things vintage and lately for collecting contemporary art, so there is an interesting juxtaposition.
What was your first car?
A Mini Clubman which took me a year of working three jobs to save up for. The dashboard used to fall onto my lap every time I went around a roundabout! It regularly broke down so I learned a lot about basic car mechanics, very quickly!
Where do you like to go on holiday?
I am a big fan of city breaks with a culture fix.
What’s your favourite bit of Norfolk?
We love the vast beaches and gastro pubs in north Norfolk.
Where do you like to eat?
Quality vegetarian food is a must! We love the Tamarind in Blofield Heath, Bishops in Norwich, and The Warwick St Social; all have great food and great atmosphere.
Collette Hanlon of Home Stagers