At the start of October I had the pleasure of attending an interior design workshop with award-winning interior designer Lauren Gilberthorpe. It was an event I was particularly excited to go to for several reasons. I’m in the process of moving and going from a one bedroom flat to a three bedroom house with garden, and I was hoping to pick up some tips from Lauren to help me design my new house in a cohesive way. I had also visited Lauren’s website on a number of occasions just to gaze at her fabulous portfolio of work (I especially love seeing the ‘before and after’ shots) and was really looking forward to meeting Lauren and seeing her work first hand. I was expecting a thoroughly gorgeous day full of design eye candy, and when I arrived at the stunning workshop venue, The Barn At Upcote in the Cotswolds, I knew I was in for something a bit special.
The barn had been set up by Lauren to recreate a classic living room look with a modern twist. The styling was there to demonstrate some of Lauren’s trusted techniques that we were going to learn throughout the day. I love the combination of grey and chartreuse so set about snapping away to capture this look.
Lauren had styled the bookshelves, coffee table and sofa with gorgeous accessories, ornaments, furnishings and books. It really was like stepping in to the pages of an interiors magazine. I loved the whole look and all the details.
We settled down for the workshop and found we each had a workbook, graph paper, a notebook and A3 paper, as well as scissors, a pencil, a pen and jugs of water on the table. These were of course laid out beautifully.
Lauren started the workshop with an introduction to herself, her work history and an icebreaker so we could all relax and get to know each other a bit. The day is planned out to be interactive and relaxed, and questions are encouraged from the group. Ideally, you would attend one of Lauren’s workshops with a room in mind that you would like help designing. At the time of going to the workshop we hadn’t yet found the house we wanted (although we have now!) so I was able to ‘borrow’ a room from a lady sitting next to me, who was there looking for tips and advice on styling her living room.
The first step in the process was assessing the space, looking at what should stay and what should go, what parts of the room you need access to, and what the room is used for. Lauren explained that this is always the first step in her design process, and when she designs for clients she needs to assess exactly how they use the room in order to make it fully functional and practical for them. For example, in a bedroom or dressing room Lauren will ask questions such as ‘do you sit down or stand up when drying your hair?’ This question in particular stood out for me. I realised that I always stand up when drying my hair and never use my dressing table to sit down at. The mirror at my dressing table is therefore a little low as it’s designed to be looked at when sitting down, so I end up crouched over with the hairdryer, especially since the ceiling also slopes down in that corner. It’s such a pain, and if I’d thought of this detail initially I would have come up with a better location for the dressing area. Tips like this are invaluable, and Lauren has many of them that she shares.
We then moved on to drawing a room to scale. This prospect generally fills me with dread as I flash back to school maths classes, not my strongest class and not a subject I have found any easier since! We were gifted a very generous goody bag at the start of the workshop, however, and in there was a fantastic design ruler which helps make scaling a very simple process. Honestly, it could not have been easier and I was able to draw out the room to scale on graph paper in a couple of minutes.
After a coffee and cake break, we made our own moodboards. Putting together a moodboard is not something I’d done before, and in actual fact I realised I had the completely wrong idea of how to go about this process. Lauren talked in detail about how she puts a moodboard together and it makes perfect sense. The idea is that you don’t limit your imagination by working from a single fabric or piece of furniture, and instead look at the space from an emotional point of view. What combination of textures, colours and lifestyle images invoke an emotional reaction in you? Lauren showed us many different moodboards she has created for clients in the past, and there are some surprising images on them which you wouldn’t initially expect to find there, until you understand the reason for them and how they then went on to inspire the finished room.
We had further exercises that day, which included using a simple process of rating a room. This easy to follow formula allows you to see where your room has positive aspects you will love and areas that you can improve upon. We also had a talk and presentation from Toria Thorpe, the founder of Lighting By Plum. If, like me, you didn’t know that you could consult a lighting expert when designing a room, you do now. I can tell you that it is such a good idea. Lighting is so important in any space, and how you use it, what you place where and the kind of lights you can use are all important factors to consider when designing a room or house. It’s an idea that I have in the back of my mind when we move as I want to get the lighting just right for each room in the house.
A fun and interactive part of the day was when we got the chance to become interior designers ourselves, by restyling the living room Lauren had placed in the barn. Splitting in to groups, we got a chance to style the bookshelves, coffee table and sofas with all manner of gorgeous pieces and textiles. This was really fun, informal and gave us all a chance to put the techniques we have learnt in to practice. For example, adding ornaments and display pieces together in odd numbers and using different heights to add interest.
We also had a delicious lunch courtesy of Siobhan Wolton, who also provided the amazing cake we had during the break and some delicious cocktails at the end. It was presented beautifully and we all chatted over lunch. It was interested to see what had prompted people to attend Lauren’s workshop. Many people had travelled a good distance to attend and while some were designing a whole home from scratch, others were looking for inspiration for one particular room in their house.
The whole day was fun. interactive and packed full of tips and tricks that Lauren is happy to share. It was a perfect opportunity to get first hand advice from Lauren and I wholeheartedly recommend her workshops if you love the idea of finding out for yourself how you can move ahead with a project of any size in your home. As well as lunch, a cocktail and the chance to get involved fully in the design process, you get a gorgeous goody bag to take away. I came home with goodies from Farrow & Ball, Loaf, Rowen & Wren and the Cotswold Candle Co to name a few.
Are you working on a design project at the moment? I would love to hear about it, and also let me know if you book on to one of Lauren’s workshops!
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