As lockdown (hopefully) draws to an end in the UK, it’s an opportune time to start to reflect on the positives and what this period has taught us. Having found an even more collaborative way to work with her clients, Founder of eponymous interior design studio, Suzy Hoodless expresses her surprise at the rewarding outcomes that have materialised. Suzy and her team have found this time has highlighted the value of a flexible home that is designed to adjust to our needs and to evolve over time. The former Interiors Editor of Wallpaper* talks to us about the importance of adaptability, thinking outside of the box and experimenting with colour.
How did you apdapt to the work from home lifestyle? What changes have you made to your home environment to improve it and better suit you living there 24/7?
We had prepared a plan in advance for the team to work remotely, so the technical transition from the studio to working at home was very relatively slick. We have discovered the key to productivity and sanity has been good communication and trying different and new channels to create structure to the work day. The biggest adjustment for me was to the daily routine and the additional challenge of home schooling three young children! For family life I have tried to find lots of things to do away from the screen, not to expect too much of ourselves and that its ok to just go with the flow.
What changes have you made to your home environment to improve it and better suit you living there 24/7?
The kitchen table has always been the hub of family life and is now more so than ever. My study remains a quiet sanctuary where I can escape from the chaos of the house. I am surrounded with personal books, photos, pictures, furniture and lighting that I love, and I’m not distracted by the children or anything else happening in our busy house.
Do you think the changes you have made at home over lockdown have affected how you approach projects in the future?
We design timeless spaces that feel good to live in, but always with an eye to comfort and function. Perhaps what we have learnt most from lockdown is flexibility and adaptability. I think all our homes have had to adapt not just for work or schooling, but to living in lockdown. Lockdown has highlighted the need, more than ever, to identify how we want the space to feel, as well as the many different ways it will be used.
As for the future, without the benefit of a crystal ball, I am confident that we will continue to adapt in all aspect of our lives. With advances in technology as well as the good old fashioned skills such as space planning, drawing and sketching, my team and I are all learning how to adapt to the realisation that we don’t have to be physically in the studio to work effectively.
Please can you share your top tips of how our readers can transform their homes during this period?
Undoubtedly, we all have much more time on our hands in our homes. My first tip would be to be realistic. Don’t start something you can’t realistically finish. Rearranging or repurposing existing furniture can be transformative and is a simple and quick way to change a room. Rehanging paintings, moving sculpture or vases, swapping pillows or cushions from one room to another can all be simple and effective catalysts for change.
Now is a great time to edit, declutter and have a proper sort through. However, be mindful if you don’t have the room to store it, you don’t want the results of your efforts to be piles of unsightly boxes! You could try simply re-categorising and rearranging your shelves or cupboards, placing all the edits in one place ready to go when the gates open.
Now is also a really good time to experiment with colour. Paint suppliers are still sending out samples. Invest in a roll of lining paper and paint multiple, large, strips of colour which can be tacked onto each wall in a room. Don’t forget to apply a few coats of paint. Take note of how the colour changes with light and shadow throughout the day as well as with artificial light. It’s easy to make the mistake of looking at colour in isolation. Like most things, a colour takes on a different shape and hue with each different colour and texture it is paired with. Be brave, some of the most striking colours can be strangely soothing.
Lockdown has been a tumultuous period for the world and everyone has had to adjust accordingly. It has also given us a lot of time to reflect. What do you think can be learnt from this period and what has it taught you?
As creatives we think of ourselves as being innovative. Adaptability has been the key to staying on top of a busy work schedule, that and not being fearful to change how we do things. Not knowing when a manufacturer will reopen or without being able to visit a site has taught us to think outside the box. It has also reminded us of the level of trust and support we share with our suppliers, many of whom I have built relationships with over many years.
Our design ethos is rooted in the desire to create magical spaces and comfortable homes that reflect our clients’ personalities and feel as if they have evolved over time. Creating a concept is a two-way dialogue and its normal to go through several different ideas with our clients before reaching the perfect vision. In this period, we have learnt the benefits of listening, being inspired by our clients’ vision for their homes, and investing more time in the concept development stage. Despite the constraints of lockdown this has been hugely rewarding.
How are you staying inspired whilst at home?
My library is a huge resource for a wide range of images and ideas of not just design, architecture and art, but recipe books, travel journals, fashion, photography, gardening and biographies. They all provide a glimpse into a way of living and I find inspiration in the smallest detail, perhaps a door handle, the bow of a chair’s back, the use of colour or the stitch or seam on a tailored jacket.
What have you enjoyed doing in lockdown that you hope to continue once its over?
I’ve been cooking endlessly and experimenting with new recipes and ingredients and I’m doing yoga and Peloton everyday. I’m also enjoying learning and discovering new things through my children.