An Interview with a Show Home Designer…
Llanmoor Homes show homes have become well known in South Wales for their exciting, on trend interior design. Tracey Grey is the mastermind behind the Llanmoor show homes, carefully selecting everything from furniture to colour schemes. Tracey talks to us about what it’s like to work as a show home designer…
Did you always want to work in interior design?
Not really. Whilst I felt I had a flair for art and design when I was at school, I didn’t really know what opportunities there were to channel this into a career. Interior design wasn’t such a big thing back then.
How did you get into designing show homes?
My husband Tim is Sales Director at Llanmoor Homes. When we were first married we used to visit show homes of other new home developers in the area to gather information for market research. The more I looked at the competitors show homes, the more I thought ‘I could do this!’ Luckily for me Tim suggested that I give it a go, and I must have impressed him because 21 years later I`m still furnishing Llanmoor Homes show homes across South Wales!
How do you begin thinking about a show home? Where do you get your inspiration?
When I’m working on a show home I eat, sleep and live it. The house is generally in the very early stages of construction when I start thinking about my designs so more often than not I have to work purely off a floor plan and build up a 3D view in my head of what I think the rooms will look like when they are completed.
My initial ideas for the interior design tend to come from a wide variety of sources. Sometimes I already have a particular trend or colour scheme in mind that I want to follow through the home. It can be fun to work with a theme – Moroccan, out of Africa, nautical, vintage and oriental Zen are just a few of the themes I have used in the past. I spend days looking on the internet for suitable pieces and the rest of the time trawling around shops and furniture retailers trying to find what I need. Not a lot gets done in my own home when I’m working on a show home!
What are the biggest challenges and the biggest rewards in your work?
The biggest challenge is having ideas but not being able to find the items that I need in the short timescales that I have to work to. Sometimes I have to change my plans because I can’t source certain items and I then end up going in a totally different direction with the design. I have to be open-minded sometimes, even if it means rethinking my whole design. The biggest rewards are the satisfaction of finishing something I’ve started, even if there have been challenges along the way, and getting to hear all the positive feedback about my work from visitors to the show home.
Which show home has been your favourite?
My ideas and the fashions I like move on, so the most recent show home is more often than not my favourite. Perhaps the most fun to do was a nautical themed home I decorated a few years ago where I painted the whole of a children’s bedroom in a seaside theme with children running on the beach, a light house and seagulls.
Which current trends do you most like?
I quite like the neutral, glamorous trend at the moment and I’m fancying plum and burgundy accents thrown in to add a bit of warmth. I also like a bit of bling, which won’t be a surprise to anyone who has visited the Llanmoor show homes!
Do you have any favourite places to shop for items for your show homes?
I shop everywhere! My favourite local companies are Astral Lighting for their fantastic service, Benjamin Interiors for the elegant room sets created by Ruth Benjamin and just recently No.39 in Cowbridge. This really is a gem, an Aladdin’s cave of goodies for your home. Having been somewhat busy moving home ourselves over the summer, I gave the ladies at No.39 the opportunity to design and furnish our brand new four bedroom show home at Bryn Meurig, Llanharry. They have done a great job and the feedback from visitors has been exceptionally positive.
Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to work in interior design?
My advice to anyone who really wants to work in interior design is to make sure it’s your passion. Designing and furnishing a show home interior is a huge commitment and really takes over your life so complete dedication to the job essential. Taking a degree in Interior Design will teach you the techniques for the job, but in my opinion it’s just as important to have natural passion and flair.