Abigail at Ben The Hoose Interiors Talks Starting Your Own Business and Living Room Projects

Abigail from Ben The Hoose Interiors

This article provides real insight into an Interior Designer’s project and their business to give you insights.

Welcome to Designer Diaries, a series where we have a casual chat with an interior designer and their recent project to inspire your next renovation. In this article, Abigail shares what it takes to start your own interior design business and a living room project that she has worked on with her client.

About Ben the Hoose Interiors and Creative Director, Abigail

Abigail interior designer for ben the hoose interiors

Ben the Hoose Interiors is a design consultancy providing interior design services for clients around the UK.  

Abigail explains: “The firm was established by myself, Abigail Fleming, in 2021, assuming the role of Creative Director, having moved from London back to my native home of Cumbria with 20 years of design experience behind me. Formally a Fashion Designer, working mainly for Highstreet brands such as Topshop and Asos I made the transition to Interior design following the birth of my 2 children and relocation.”

shop pattern tiles for bathrooms and kitchens

Ben the Hoose Interiors provides individual, bold and bespoke interior design, technical drawing, product sourcing and installation services to a range of clients.

“We are a local, family firm rooted in our Cumbrian home. We wrap our customer’s objectives into all activities, at all times maintaining our commitment to the north of England, sustainable materials, craft products and individuality.” Says Abigail.

‘Ben the Hoose’ is an old Scots expression that equates to ‘the best room in the house’. It grounds the business in the comfort and importance of beautiful, safe, homely spaces and fits neatly with the family and local ethos of the company.

What advice would you give someone looking to start their own interior design business? 

“Starting your own interior design business can be an exciting venture but there are a few things to consider beforehand.”

“Getting that first project under your belt is crucial to helping you build a portfolio to showcase your best work. However, this isn’t easy. Of course, you can start by photographing your own home, if you have a beautifully renovated home, but if you haven’t, I suggest getting involved in a friend’s project and forming a mutually beneficial agreement.”

“I started by contacting a friend who is a property investor and had just bought a small property. I offered to put a design pack together for free, in return for lots of social media posting and marketing to their property investor audience. This was my golden ticket. I received two direct enquiries from other property investors, and I have now completed eight projects for one of those investors.”

square led mirror for bathroom touch screen

Top tip: Keep educating yourself

“Invest in your education and stay updated on the latest trends and technologies in interior design. There are loads of great little ‘free’ courses out there, helping you to figure out how to charge for your services or community groups for support from fellow interior designers. Two to mention are the interior designer’s hub and the business bakery.

“Attending trade shows is a great way to educate yourself on industry trends. Also, network with other small business owners and get inspired for your future projects. I would recommend visiting Decorex and The furniture show.

“Keep a close eye on your finances. It’s so easy to get sucked into thinking you need everything in place before starting your business but in truth, you don’t. One thing you do need is insurance! Getting the right insurance before starting is crucial but other elements, such as your website, can wait until you are ready. I waited until 1 year in before I launched my website. By waiting I could launch with lots of lovely projects to showcase and to grow an audience of my own.”

“Starting an interior design business requires a combination of creativity, business acumen, and dedication. By focusing on these key aspects, you can lay a solid foundation for a successful venture.”

Sneak peek into a Ben the Hoose Interiors project

Ben the hoose interior design projects

What was the design brief for the client for this particular space? 

“Upon my initial meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Smith in their home, they presented me with an extensive catalogue of challenges and aspirations for their living room. The room posed distinctive issues, including its unconventional shape, an oversized radiator, a worn-out sofa, and damp patches on the walls. Undeterred by the complexity, I embraced the prospect of a comprehensive renovation project.”

Living room layout design proect by ben the hoose interiors
Design: Ben the Hoose Interiors | Photographer: Oliver Kersh

“In addition to addressing these concerns, the Smiths harboured a comprehensive wish list for their rejuvenated space. Their non-negotiables comprised a spacious 65” T.V., a snug corner sofa, a designated bar area, a captivating feature wall, and a functional workstation. The task was to seamlessly integrate these diverse elements into the confines of a relatively compact space.”

Living room and TV layout design by ben the hoose interiors
Design: Ben the Hoose Interiors | Photographer: Oliver Kersh

“Navigating this intricate balance between problem-solving and wish fulfilment fuelled my enthusiasm for the project, offering a dynamic canvas to transform their living room into a harmonious and functional haven.”

See below for what the living room looked like before the renovation:

Ben the Hoose Interiors before impage of iving room renovation

This space was in dire need of a transformative renovation. With its elongated and narrow configuration, compounded by the necessity to walk through it for access to the kitchen, a continuous flow of foot traffic became an unavoidable challenge. A comprehensive reevaluation was crucial, aiming to strategically reimagine the layout and functionality of the room to enhance its overall utility.  

What were the design elements for this project? 

Firstly, I always visit the space and complete a design consultation when embarking on a new project. This is where I learn about the clients, likes and dislikes, wishes for their home and budget. Once I’ve gathered all the information during the discovery phase, I move into the design phase.

One of the best features of this room was a floor-to-ceiling window at one end, letting in lots of natural light.

ben the hoose interior design project living room with panelling
Design: Ben the Hoose Interiors | Photographer: Oliver Kersh

I planned to create a space that championed this feature. I knew the furniture layout was another key element to get right and improve the flow of the space. For this, I use modelling software which enables me to quickly visualise new furniture layout options.  

How did you choose the colour scheme for the project?

For this project, I decided to use only one paint colour: Sunday Soul by Coat Paints. I wanted to warp the room in one colour creating grandeur, and a sense of open space. This technique is called ‘colour drenching’ and is quite popular at the moment. 

sunday soul coat paint used on panelling in a living room
Design: Ben the Hoose Interiors | Photographer: Oliver Kersh

What advice can you offer someone looking to hire an interior designer for their home? 

Hiring an interior designer is right for so many people. If you are busy and simply don’t have the time to manage a project, an interior designer can do that for you. If you are overwhelmed by all the decisions a renovation project entails, then an interior designer can assist and break down the information. Also, if you have a limited budget, an interior designer can source the right products for your space, whilst being conscious of budget. In a nutshell, we can save you time, frustration, and money!  

Finally, what interior trends do you love at the moment? 

There are two trends I’m in love with at the moment, ‘Quite Luxury’ and ‘Dark & Moody.’ Quite luxury emphasises understated elegance, timeless appeal, and high-quality materials. It’s a movement that prioritises simplicity and refinement, creating serene, calming spaces that reflect a sense of sophistication without ostentation.  

Dark and Moody is all about combining a dark colour palette in a space, but it’s not just about colour. It takes on an entire mood of ennui. Think dimly lit rooms enveloped in rich deep colours with furnishings that are both edgy yet tinged with history. 

I love both interior trends even though they are quite different.  

Learn more about Ben The Hoose Interiors here.

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