Q&A: Fiona Duke

Credit: Jez Dickinson Photography

It is not easy to create the living space of your dreams.

If it was, nobody would ever move house (and we’d be out of business in a heartbeat).

From choosing new fittings to replacing old fixtures, there are any number of pitfalls that stand between you and the home you truly want.

The good news is that there is also an abundance of ways to mitigate these problems.

The most obvious solution is hiring an interior designer. However, we appreciate that outsourcing doesn't suit everyone’s budget.

That’s why we reached out to Fiona Duke, co-founder of the Interior Design Collective, to get you some expert advice at no cost whatsoever.

We asked the questions we thought you’d like to see answered and this is what we learned:

Fiona Duke Interiors mid century sideboard

Credit: Anna Stathaki 

EBTD: You have confessed to us that you love to mix new and vintage pieces in your themes. Any advice for making this work?

FD: There are some amazing new pieces that many of us long to have in our home. These may be design classics or pieces from emerging designers that we are keen to get our hands on. These designs can instantly create wonderful statements for a concept upon which you can build. Modern design can be fantastic but sometimes, if everything is new, it can feel a little too perfect and impersonal. The joy with vintage pieces is that they inadvertently help you embrace the ‘perfectly imperfect’ ethos into your interiors. Vintage items sit comfortably next to modern pieces and once you incorporate these vintage pieces into your scheme, it immediately helps make the overall theme feel more relaxed and honest.

Fiona Duke Interiors Bedroom

Credit: Anna Stathaki 

EBTD: In an Apartment Therapy article about renovating your home, you spoke of your desire to create a space that was “more us”. What steps can our readers take to ensure they get what they really want from a new interior theme?

FD: In the ever-growing world of social media, we are exposed to 1000’s of new ideas on a daily basis and it can all become a bit overwhelming as we flick through endless glossy 'on-trend' images that are sometimes hard to resist. However, I think this can cause us to lose sight of what we actually want and like. My core objective with any new client (including my own interiors) is to create spaces that are a true reflection of them. By including key items, items that really mean something to you, you can tell the story of what you are trying to portray in your theme.

Fiona Duke Interiors bathroom

Credit: Fiona Walker-Arnott

EBTD: You are the co-founder of the excellent Interior Design Collective (IDC). Given your experience, what advice would you give to anybody looking to appoint an interior designer?

FD: Before hiring a designer, take the time to establish which are the key elements in your set up so that you have a clear idea of what you are looking to achieve. The designer can assist you on that journey but it really helps if you have at least some direction so that you are able to guide them, otherwise you may lose sight of what you are doing. What are your core objectives, your likes and dislikes? It’s not always easy to answer these questions, so you have to challenge yourself to try and work it out so that the designer is fully briefed and able to provide the best concept.

Fiona Duke Interiors living room

Credit: Anna Stathaki

EBTD: What are you looking for when you are sourcing furniture for a project and do you have any tips for making smart buying decisions?

FD: Firstly, it has to fit! This may seem obvious but it’s an easy mistake to make. Secondly, it has to suit the objective. Does this piece need to have hidden storage? Does it need to be used for a dual purpose? Does it need to be the piece within the design that is going to create a wow factor and be the focal statement piece etc etc. Sometimes clients get so focused on the objective, however, that they forget to ensure that they're choosing a piece they really love! This is just as important. 

Fiona Duke Interiors Bathroom

Credit: Anna Stathaki 

EBTD: What advice would you give to any novice who is about to take on a home renovation or redecoration project from scratch? Speaking from personal experience, this can be a daunting task and knowing where to begin is never easy.

FD: Don’t rush into anything. We are all a little impatient and want things done yesterday but it pays to step back and really review and question what you want from your renovation or redecoration. Live with a space for a while as your initial ideas or wants can change. Do your research. Inspiration is everywhere and by looking at what is already out there you can piece together a clear list of aims and objectives for your project to ensure you stay on track. And don’t forget to be realistic about your budget and accept that sometimes you need to compromise. Even with the biggest budgets, it’s not always possible to get everything you want.

If you'd like to know more about Fiona, her approach and her projects, head to fionadukeinteriors.

If all this talk of home makeovers has left you thinking about armchairs, sofas and the like, then head to our collection of mid century modern furniture and shop a wide range of iconic and original pieces.

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