My life as an interior designer began at an early age. My parents moved house frequently, though mostly around Belgravia, and I was always allowed to choose what my own room looked like. In fact, I made some rather sophisticated attempts at decoration.
In my career I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world, working in different countries, with widely varying customs. One of the most extraordinary journeys involved breakfast in Shanghai after leaving the house you will see in this book, which was three hours by car from Shanghai, and finished with dinner in Jordan, where I was working on a house in Amman. It was the most extreme cultural change in a twelve-hour journey I can imagine.
I think my approach to any new job is the same whatever and wherever it is: basically I am there to be a guide to achieving the clients’ desires and to be the editor of their dreams. I believe that the most successful homes come from an enjoyable journey made together to achieve the end result. At the beginning it is important to find out how extensive the work will be. As you will see, some of the houses in this book have had major surgery while others have just been given a facelift. I must admit I do find it exciting to build a house from scratch, as was the case with the house in China, but equally I love restoring an old house to its former glory, as with the 19th-century relic of more glamorous times in New York.
The budget is obviously a vital thing to discuss from the first. I have found that it is always possible to add to it later, but very difficult to cut it down partway through. Being honest about how you really want to live in the house is also an important piece of information. Do the dogs live on the bed, for instance? Is the kitchen going to be the centre of family life or will it be used more for catering large parties? Do you want to lie full length of the sofas and read, or sit tucked up in an arm chair? Accurately answering all these and many more questions helps to achieve a home that is right for you.