We catch up with Amanda, who has been breathing life into residential interiors for 30 years. She has a fabric and wallpaper studio in her shop in Burford, which is full of bespoke furniture and beautiful items for the home.
So Amanda, what made you want to become an interior designer?
It just happened organically. In my early years I worked for a variety of companies, gaining lots of experience. I particularly enjoyed working with a kitchen design company, which is an area I specialise in now, and I trained with a fabulous interior designer – he had buckets of STYLE! I now find it very easy to visualise how a room, or indeed an entire house, should be – it seems very natural to me. I absolutely love what I do and have a feeling that my enthusiasm spills over to my clients.
Do you have any particular favourite places in the Cotswolds that inspire you?
Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire is absolutely beautiful; acres of stunning landscaped gardens and herbaceous borders – the colours are amazing! There is also a plant centre, garden shop, and the courses they run there are very inspiring.
I also love the Sculpture Studio, where I learned life sculpture. The teacher, Val Adamson, is fabulous, and I could spend all my time there if I had the chance.
Tell us about “Amanda Hanley by Design” – who’s behind the scenes?
I have been working as an interior designer in the Cotswolds for some 30 years now and am lucky enough to have established a wonderful network of suppliers and talented local tradesmen. The products we supply are all very carefully selected and our furniture is hand made in Britain, ensuring it’s of the highest quality. I am very particular in my standards and will only accept the best.
My son Matthew joined me three years ago to run our showroom on Burford High Street. He has gone from strength to strength, has a very creative eye and our clients adore him. We laugh a lot! He needs to have a great sense of humour when I bounce in from trade shows, boasting my new finds.
My assistant Cathy has exquisite taste, is great fun to work with and has great attention to detail. In the background we have a lovely marketing and admin team, who are extremely patient with me and (I think) really enjoy coming to work. We are quite simply a happy team, and our clients can tell that we love what we do.
What’s a fairly typical morning and afternoon for you?
To be honest, the days are all completely different, but always very busy. For example, this morning we interviewed a potential new member of the showroom team and had three client meetings, all requiring close attention, involving sourcing sofas, footstools, chairs, upholstery, wallpaper, etc. Not to mention the 100 emails waiting to be opened… So, fairly full on! An unglamorous working lunch normally happens around 3pm, and the afternoon today comprised a huge amount of admin and organisation of deliveries, meeting reps and assisting customers; a lot of running up and down stairs for me!
My job is extremely varied and you become very good friends with your clients and get to know them well. They trust you and want you to be really honest with them and give them guidance; I have absolutely no hesitation in telling them if I think something is wrong or even too expensive. I love it when my clients come in and just say: “WOW this is amazing, I want everything in this showroom!” It makes us feel proud of what we have achieved.
The days are long, however, it is so exciting to see how we are growing and developing – we’re about to start selling online, which is very challenging but could be incredibly rewarding.
What made you move to the Cotswolds, and has it helped with work/life balance at all?
I moved out of London around 20 years ago, thinking there may be a quieter pace of life. I can honestly say I was wrong – it’s exceptionally busy but great fun. Over the years, I have seen the Cotswolds change and I would definitely not move back to London. However, I am there most weeks at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, sourcing fabrics and wallpaper for clients, so I guess I’m getting the best of both worlds.
Lewis & Wood at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre
Where would you recommend grabbing a bite to eat, in and around Burford? Are there any local pubs or bars we need to know about?
The Angel at Burford is lovely because it’s within walking distance, has delicious home-cooked food and a lovely fire, so warm and cosy in the winter. It is a very traditional pub and my sons tell me the real ales on draft are excellent, and the landlord and landlady are delightful.
The newly-opened Lynwood’s Cafe in Burford is a regular stop in the morning for coffee and cake, and on a Friday evening it’s always The Spice Lounge, where you receive a fantastic welcome and the food is wonderful.
What’s been the most challenging and rewarding part of your job so far?
The most challenging part is to learn to say “no”! Unfortunately, that never happens, so it just seems to get busier and busier. Interpreting client’s requirements is always challenging; it’s all about psychology, perception and creativity. But I simply adore the job, I love meeting people, and there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t want to go to work.
Are there any items that you’ve brought into the shop recently that you’ve got your eye on?
I would have every single item in the shop at home! When I visit trade shows and suppliers I only buy what I like. They find me very honest as I only want the best for my clients. I love colour, texture, unusual collections and eclectic pieces; it should never be boring. Printed velvet is a favourite and the Mulberry Home fabrics and wallpapers are just stunning.
What would you say to encourage anyone looking to style their home, but without a clue where to start?
I would (of course) say come to our showroom and look at the fabrics first, so we can get an idea of what you like and the style of your house. We would then look at wallpaper, wall colours, flooring and start to build a scheme. It is amazing how much you can tell from someone’s choices, and then have the confidence to guide and help them inject their character and personality into their home. That’s what we do and we’re here to help the interior novice design their perfect home.
The scheme must link one room to another, but also be practical and within budget. We have many ways to help save, rather than spend, money – it’s a misconception that interior designers must be expensive!
Cole & Son at Amanda Hanley by Design
How do you unwind after a busy day?
A gin and tonic followed by something delicious for dinner with the family.
15% off GP & J Baker, Mulberry Home, Threads and Baker Lifestyle at Amanda Hanley by Design for the month of October 2018 for Rock the Cotswolds friends and followers*
*Please mention Rock the Cotswolds when visiting Amanda Hanley’s showroom at 69 Burford High Street, OX18 4QA