Lucy Tiffney aka the whirling dervish to those who watched series 3 of the Great Interior Design Challenge on BBC2 this year, is ready to share her home style with Seasons in Colour and I am very excited to have her featured on the blog. Lucy, a textile design lecturer and rug designer, made it all the way to the final and along the way produced some of the best rooms we have seen in the GIDC, including the Swedish boxed bed room below.
Lucy lives with husband Tiff and their two teenage boys, Leo and Frank.
About three years ago they realised that they were fast outgrowing their small, Victorian semi. They had extended it every which way to within an inch of its life and really needed more space. Luckily, a detached, 4 bed house, built around 1910 came into the market close to where they lived.
"This wreck of a house around the corner came on the market at a great price" says Lucy. "We knew we needed to act fast if we were going to get it! A colleague of mine, and now great friend, Heather, mentioned that she was looking to buy in our area. That evening I rang her and she and her partner Michael came to view our house. They were instantly smitten and snapped it up".
The new house was in need of TLC and as is usually the case, there was no budget for immediate renovations, so Lucy and her husband have spent the last 2 years doing what they can themselves. The kitchen and bathroom are stuck in the 80’s but the builders are coming to fix that at beginning of April! And according to Lucy, this moment cannot come soon enough!
"It’s now time to call in the experts to knock the kitchen breakfast room in to one big open space and treat ourselves to a new bathroom!", she says.
What? No DIY?!! But given her busy schedule following the show, who can blame her.
How do you describe your style and how did you put your own stamp around the house?
"My style is modern, colourful, an eclectic harmony. As to how I put my stamp around the house, I have used my own instinctive style. For example, all the original panelled doors were covered with hardboard and I’ve stripped that back to reveal original, battered 1950’s green painted pitch pine underneath, which I love. Floors are sanded, but some rooms have painted boards. Walls are painted with white matt emulsion to act as a clean, crisp backdrop to my designs and furnishings. I have also hand painted the tiled hall floor in a stunning geometric design".
And your favourite room is...
"My studio! It is large and light and sits at the front of the house with an original box bay window. The sun pours in on a sunny day. This room also acts as our dining room when friends and family come for supper".
Lucy is a keen upcycler and this is clear in her home which is full of vintage treasures.
"I look for objects and pieces of furniture that don't necessarily have huge monetary value, but which have a history and provenance and can be updated to fit in our contemporary home. Its hard to choose which have been my best finds, because there have been so many, but what spring to mind first are …. Slate fireplace and mantelpiece I found in off skip, lime green angle poise lamp which was a street find in Japan and a huge enamel GASOIL sign found at the side of the road in France almost 30 years ago!"
But what do friends and family think of Lucy's home?
"My friends and family love my house. It’s an ever-changing canvas on which I experiment with design ideas, but also a light, warm and comfortable home".
Get Lucy's style
Lucy has some vintage chairs in her studio but if you cannot find what you are looking for head for the Meccano Bistrot Chair (via Amara.com). Search for metal pegboard sheet if you want to create an inexpensive mood board on your wall. For similar Michelin prints, head to Etsy.com. This one on the left will set you back £7.85 plus shipping for the A3 size.
Tissue paper pom poms are fun and inexpensive. You can find them on Ebay or Etsy.com. Try this trio of pom poms for £6.50. For a similar style mid-centrury tripod style side table, head to Utopia Gallery, £65 plus shipping. A vintage wooden large letter can cost between £8-20 depending on the size and you can find them here.
in designing a long-lasting scheme.
What we should
and should not splash out on
"There are definitely things that are worth investing more money in and they make up the bones of each space", she says.
Good quality paints and wall finishes/wallpapers, for example, from Farrow & Ball, Dulux, Cole & Son or HouseofHackney are crucial and save time and money in the long term, as the coverage and finish is so much better.
Carpets and flooring need to be excellent quality and great colours so that they are timeless and lasting.
Good quality lighting is extremely important as it sets the overall tone of each space.
More affordable products can then be used to add personality or individuality to each room, for example antiques or vintage pieces that can be used as they are or updated/upcycled and affordable from well known high street Stores which have an ever evolving range of excellent products which rarely break the bank".
The GIDC show
If there is one thing we learned during the Great Interior Design Challenge is that some clients are more open to change than others. Some need to be guided from beginning to end. So I was interested to hear her thoughts on what were the challenges in managing client expectations and what is the key ingredient to successfully completing a project.
"The key ingredient to a successful project is to get the client on board from the outset. This is achieved through listening to them and their brief and specifications and then working closely with them, holding their hand all the way to realise their dream", says Lucy.
Throughout the show, there were tears aplenty when Lucy would finish her rooms. But these were not tears from stress. I could tell that Lucy really cared about what she delivered to her clients and their approval of her designs only made her more confident at the end of every episode.
"The fact is I am still so proud of everything I achieved in the time and with such a small budget and of paramount importance was that John, the client (in the show's final) was ecstatic with all my design schemes", Lucy observes. I think this sums up how invested Lucy was in every scheme she prepared in the show.
The owner of this flat in a Georgian terraced house in Bath was very particular in what she wanted for her living room. Lucy delivered a grown up sophisticated scheme complete with a chandelier of her own design, which I think is plain marvelous!
Lucy hand draws a traditional Swedish theme for her boxed bed in the show.
There was always so much to be done in those 3 days and Lucy was a waterfall of ideas. They were just pouring out of her uncontrollably. But somehow, Lucy always managed to finish her projects on time. I wonder if she had to compromised on her ideas in order to be able to finish each project.
"I know that I’ve always been a whirling dervish and that's due to my unstoppable creative brain", Lucy answers. "This combined with the thrive of the challenge, meant that I became super organised with each round. I developed my planning, budgeting, preparation and management with each scheme and that meant that I was always able to finish on time. Of course there was some compromise of ideas due to time and budget constraints, but I always kept in mind the client and their brief and expectations".
What's next for Lucy Tiffney?
Has taking part in the GIDC helped her, I ask. Is she more confident to work as an interiors designer and stylist now?
"Since the GIDC, I am now confident in my ideas and abilities as an interior designer and stylist. It has given me a platform to showcase my talents, which is one that I am hugely grateful and the public have responded so fantastically. I am so excited for the future and continuing as an interior designer and stylist". She is just adorable and approachable. I am sure that any client would be lucky to have Lucy around, hand holding or not.
And with that I turn my focus on her rug designs. We saw Lucy designing a rug during the show and having browsed extensively around her website, I wonder what's on the cards for her rug designs and her own brand in general.
"Rugs are something I have designed for a long time and I plan to incorporate them in to current and future design projects. I create bespoke rugs for corporate and private interiors. Working with clients’ unique specifications and requirements, designs are developed in the form of a series of gouache paintings. All the rugs and carpets are then hand tufted from 100% pure new wool in the UK. The finished product is a dense, lustrous pile with a timeless longevity.
I am very interested in bringing the Lucy Tiffney brand to homewares, in the form of cushions, wallpapers, linens etc. and I’m looking forward to collaborating on projects with design. The potential for the future is now so exciting ………so watch this space!"
If you're not following Lucy's Instagram feed, you're missing out on a whole lot of inspiration. You can also check out her Pinterest boards and Facebook page. And, Lucy (and her hot pants) is on Twitter showcasing her amazing new wall mural which you can see and like right here.
Photos courtesy of www.lucytiffney.com