I hope you all had a jubilant Diamond Jubilee Extravaganza! It’s so good to have that time to celebrate UK style (and enjoy an extended Bank Holiday). Although the weather was true to form, we still pulled it off! I also like this time of the month because I get to share with you all another pair of fabulous shoes! This month it’s the turn of Helen Bygraves and Jenny Weiss, Co-founders of Luxury Interior Design Consultancy Hill House Interiors . Based in Weybridge, Surrey with a shiny new showroom and office just opened on Elystan Street – London, this dynamic duo have been creating some dazzling, jaw-dropping spaces, from wonderful walk-ins to sensational cinema rooms. Inspired by their work, I caught up with Helen and Jenny to discover the tricks of their trade and to find out more about what it’s really like to walk in their shoes…
HOP: Did you always know that you wanted to work in the interiors industry
HB (Helen Bygraves): In all honesty – no! It’s just something that seemed to happen, although interiors were always my passion!
I actually initially studied classical and contemporary dance at Laine Theatre Arts College and became, through my performance engagements, a regular traveller to exotic destinations. This ignited my love of discovering new places, their different architecture and contrasting cultures. I’ve always had a strong artistic flair, so I began to channel my energies into decorative arts. I relished the challenge of creating interior schemes, focusing initially on my own home, and then branching out to friends and friends of friends’ houses.
JW (Jenny Weiss): Like Helen, interiors have always been my passion. I found this at the age of 22 when my husband and I bought our first house. The joy and satisfaction of taking a rundown cottage and transforming it into a beautiful space was life changing – I was hooked!
HOP: How did you go about setting up Hill House
JW: My business partner and friend Helen and I set up Hill House Interiors 14 years ago. We had both been working in the property industry for some time, so it seemed a natural progression for us to go into business together. We started out with a small shop, and working out of a home office. Our first project was a five bedroom showhouse for luxury property developers Octagon.
HB: Since then, we have built up a mini-empire, with 20 staff, a large studio in Weybridge, a shop, and an impeding fabulous new showroom about to open on Elystan Street in Chelsea. Our commissions now stretch from modern mansions in Surrey and Central London, to vast villas in the South of France, restaurants in Eastern Europe and stunning properties in Dubai.
HOP: Do you prefer interior design consultancy to being a full time interior designer
HB: In my day job, I’m a design consultant, interior designer and a procurement specialist, so I really do get the best of all worlds, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
HOP: Where do you draw your inspiration from for each project
JW: The uplifting effect of living in a beautiful space is often underestimated. It can make a significant difference to how people feel about themselves and in turn how they react to other people. I feel very grateful to be working in a career where I can create every day. Inspiration can come from so many sources through history and from nature, a piece of vintage jewellery, an intricate embroidery or fretwork, the myriad of colours in one feather. My eyes are always open to new inspiration.
HB: For me, inspiration can come from anything, a fabric, a colour pallet, and an exotic holiday destination.
Key elements in film and theatrical environment inspire me as they are constantly influencing advancements in areas such as lighting and other technologies. Both Jenny and I are lovers of fashion, so we are heavily influenced by the catwalks of London, Paris and Milan – our schemes are always in line with the best of couture.
HOP: Describe a typical 24 hours at the Hill House studio
HB: One thing’s for sure, no two days are the same in our line of work! It can be hectic, but the work is immensely rewarding.
One day I might be jetting off to Spain to meet with a new client, (working on my IPad mid-air of course, creating mood boards and drafting emails to meet tight client deadlines). The next day, I might be meeting with a new supplier (we pride ourselves on building fantastic relationships with suppliers, only sourcing the best), heading into Central London for a consultation with a client, and then trying to get a moment of peace and quiet in the studio to get on with some designing.
JW: I’ve lost count of the times people have suggested that we should write a book about it. We work in a high energy, high pressure yet creative environment. You can feel the electricity the second you walk into our studio. We are also a big family who look out for each other and work together pushing boundaries and not settling for anything less than perfection. How lucky are we?!
HOP: What’s the best advice you ever received
JW: Laugh and have fun. There’s no point being successful but sad. Reach for the mountaintop but enjoy the ride as well. Life wasn’t meant to be an ordeal – it was meant to be a celebration. So have fun as you chase and catch your most cherished dreams.
HB: Someone once said to me, you only get one chance to make a first impression and that has really resonated with me and is apparent throughout our schemes. It has now become the Hill House mantra!
HOP: I’m happiest when…
HB: …I feel as if I have achieved my goals.
Once I’ve done this, then I can really relax. I try to make sure I maintain a sensible work life/balance (when I can)! I’ve got a very active social life – always dedicating my weekends to entertaining friends and family. A great team as back-up is a Godsend for peace of mind.
JW: Nature can be awe inspiring. The upside of all the rain we’ve having is the rainbows. I saw a perfect double rainbow as I was leaving work recently and it took my breath away. I also love walking barefoot in the sand and the ocean as the sun is rising. That, and dining al-fresco on a warm summer evening with family and friends is hard to beat!
HOP: What are you most proud of in your design career
HB: I am immensely proud of the business we have built up. The accolades we have received recently really demonstrates that we must be doing something right.
JW: Helen and I both lead by example. We are involved in every project and we work together inspiring each other to create exceptional interiors that surpass the expectations of our clients. We have built up a great team who can still smile and laugh under pressure, and enjoy coming to work every day.
And that, I am very proud of!
Images supplied by: www.hillhouseinteriors.com
Image below: Credited
HOP: What’s your favourite home comfort
JW: I adore wonderful fragrances and my home is always willed with beautiful candles by Diptique, Jo Malone and my favourite – Welton’s Imperial White Musk which we will have in our new Chelsea Showroom.
HB: My bedroom and bathroom at home is my sanctuary. It’s where I rejuvenate. I always leave there feeling right and ready for my day.