Interview: Behind the Scenes at Chapter Seven Design

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Andrew and Joanne Smith are the husband-and-wife team behind Chapter Seven Design. As a multi-disciplinary interior design studio, they work on residential, commercial and property development projects, specialising in luxury interior design, interior architecture, and project coordination solutions. As ever, I was keen to get behind the scenes to find out what made them both tick, what their passions are, and what predictions they have for interiors in 2022…

Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds and how you came to set up an interior design practice?

Interview Behind the Scenes at Chapter Seven Design

Joe – I’ve always had an interest in interiors and creating beautiful spaces in our own home. However, my background is actually in sales and business development, where I was responsible for managing a large portfolio of clients, growing those accounts and bringing in new business. I had to be highly organised and visit clients regularly, which also helped me develop strong communication skills. I now put all of this into action in my role as Chapter Seven’s Business Director. I not only manage the business, but I also deliver end-to-end project coordination to ensure that the client’s interior design journey is as seamless and stress-free as possible.

Andy – I worked for many years in building services engineering and started out on the drawing board (showing my age now!) using 2D and 3D computer aided design to visually communicate my ideas to clients. By 2009, I’d completed a degree in Architectural Technology and Digital Innovation at the University of Derby. This was where I discovered my passion for interiors and first started creating moodboards, producing drawings and undertaking spatial planning. As Chapter Seven’s Creative Director, I bring a client’s vision for their property to life by combining in-depth analysis with my technical knowledge and creative problem-solving skills.

Before launching Chapter Seven, we spoke at great length about our mutual love of all things interior design. We wanted to put this to good use by creating stylish homes, while also achieving a better work life balance ourselves. We decided to take the plunge and launch our very own multi-disciplinary luxury interior design studio – and we’re so happy that we did.

You are a husband-and-wife team. How do you make this work?

Interview Behind the Scenes at Chapter Seven Design

We think it’s important to tackle everything as a team and we’re lucky that our personalities work well together. We wanted to find the right balance between work and home, which is why we have an office at The Atkins Building in Hinckley, as well as our home studio. This means that one day we can be working together and on another, one of us may be out with clients. We try not to talk about work outside of our typical work hours when we’re at home, but obviously this isn’t always possible. When you’re both so enthusiastic about what you do, sometimes you can’t help but talk about it!

Where did the name Chapter Seven come from?

Interview Behind the Scenes at Chapter Seven Design

Andy – At university I read an important book called ‘Form, Space and Order’ by FDK Ching. Chapter Seven was entitled “Principles of Design”. The book was a revelation – it made me think about design in a completely new way. I still refer to it now. Our work is underpinned by our design expertise, so Chapter Seven was the perfect fit.

How would you describe your signature style, and does your own home reflect this?

Interview Behind the Scenes at Chapter Seven Design

Our style is classic and contemporary with a twist. From an eye-catching piece of art to elegant flooring, we’re keen to add those thoughtful personal touches that resonate with the client and make their space theirs.

At the moment, our current home doesn’t reflect our style, but that’s because we’re looking to move so decided not to do too much to it. We’re looking forward to the time when we do move so we can work on our own special project – creating our dream family home.

What is your favourite part of the design process?

Interview Behind the Scenes at Chapter Seven Design

Andy – I find that the 3D modelling and drawing is my favourite part of the design process as it’s the start of the design journey where I can put on my thinking cap. This is where the design really comes to life. It’s wonderful to see how happy the client is when they are presented with the designs of their home, which always exceed their expectations. The advance in technology over the last few years has allowed our clients to step inside the design before it’s built.

Joe – I enjoy selecting the fabrics, finishes and equipment and creating the mood and sample boards for each project. I also like presenting our designs to the clients and discussing their thoughts.

Do you have any predictions for interior trends in 2022?

Interview Behind the Scenes at Chapter Seven Design

Experimenting with different textures will continue in 2022 through luxurious fabrics, natural light, and earthy tones. There will also be a continued emphasis on sustainability in how homes are designed and decorated, with even more of a push to use environmentally friendly materials.

Over the next year, we expect to see more homeowners looking to bring the outside world indoors to create a calming and natural environment. This can be achieved by using organic fabrics and greenery such as house plants.

Another popular trend that won’t be going anywhere is statement lighting. We’ve had many clients asking for this along with large windows to help let more light into their home. With so many more of us working from home, we need an environment that feels light, airy and spacious.

What advice would you give to anyone about to embark on a project in their own home?

Interview Behind the Scenes at Chapter Seven Design

Take your time and don’t rush into things. To help you visualise the room, put together a moodboard of any pictures you’ve seen, as well as fabric samples or colours you like. You can’t go wrong with Pinterest or Instagram, as well as magazines like Elle Decoration, Living Etc, and House and Garden. Have a good think about your favourite styles too. We advise going for something that won’t date and can easily be updated through soft furnishings and decorative accessories.

What can you say to potential clients who are nervous about costs?

Interview Behind the Scenes at Chapter Seven Design

Hiring an interior designer isn’t as expensive as people think. At Chapter Seven, we offer a full package to our clients and make sure we’re constantly delivering value. That could be through clever spatial planning, elegant fabric selections, practical furniture / lighting layouts or meticulous project management. We take a personal approach and adapt our services to each client’s unique project requirements, which means that every project varies in cost depending on the work required. It’s well worth having an initial consultation with us so we can discuss the client’s hopes and dreams for the project, as well as factors like budget and timescales.

Do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline?

Yes, we are currently working on a beautiful project for a family home where we are in the concept stage. We’ve also just won an interesting project in the country, but we can’t say too much at the minute…

What do you do to switch off and relax?

The most important thing to us is family and we love spending quality time with our son, who is growing up quickly now!

We both enjoy working out and going to the gym, and Joe also loves curling up with a good book. Our favourite thing is being by the sea and every year, we stay in Carbis Bay in Cornwall. It holds such lovely memories for us as a family and we’re already looking forward to our holiday there next year.

Chapter Seven Design

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