A few weeks back I got to chat with Gabriel Holland during her gorgeous brand shoot. Gabriel is an interior designer and colour consultant based in Ramsgate. She's inspired by gentle sea scapes, big skies and simple, quiet design. I was so interested to hear how Gabriel's connection with organic materials and light weaved into her work, and I'm thrilled to be able to share our conversation with you!
So Gabriel, it is great to chat with you today! Could you introduce yourself and share some insight into the work that you do?
Hi Rebecca - my name is Gabriel & I am an interior designer based in Ramsgate, Kent. I have run my own studio for 17 years and during this time I also worked for six years as a Farrow & Ball Paint Colour Consultant.
Prior to setting up my own business I was the Senior Designer in London for a company called Plain English Design. They make beautiful kitchens & joinery based on the simple lines of Georgian interiors. I had also previously worked at my parents’ architectural practice in Norfolk.
Originally, I had gone to art school and trained in Fine Art & Graphic Design, but in the end I moved into interiors after spending a few years as an artist in London whilst working at The Tate Gallery.
I've always loved interior design but I come from the architectural side of interiors rather than the soft furnishings of curtains/cushions. I love colour which probably comes from studying painting but always think three dimensionally.
I'm very lucky in that most of my projects are private houses with almost all of my work coming from word of mouth recommendation or repeat clients. I also tend to work mainly on houses beside the sea which I absolutely love…!
I think it is fair to say that your connection to light and organic materials is abundant in the interiors you design. Are there landscapes and locations that have really influenced your creative eye?
Yes you are absolutely right - I am always drawn to the ‘natural’ in every aspect of my life & I guess this is reflected in the interiors which I design.
I love seascapes & live by the sea myself. I find the long flat horizons of the East Kent Coast very inspiring and the palette of colours you see in the water, land & sky are always changing. The soft grays and light blues of the sky work beautifully against the chalky white of the cliffs. As well as the stone colour of the pebbles and the amazing pink hues we get at dusk.
They create a perfect mood board of muted colours and the very horizontal plane accentuates this feeling of calm.
Indeed a horizontal elevation has been proven to be more restful to the human eye than a vertical elevation, and this too affects our well being.
With all my projects I use natural materials. Whether that be timber flooring, natural fabrics such as wools and linens or just by opening up a space to maximise the natural daylight. In my own home it is all about letting in the light and letting in the fresh air as well.
Luckily most of my projects are by the sea. But even when they are in the countryside or the city, I will always draw on the vernacular of the local environment. So again it is back to the ‘natural’.
I love your ethos of delivering comfortable relaxed spaces with a calm pared down aesthetic. What are your top tips for approaching this foundation within interior design?
Thank you Rebecca. I’m not sure that I have any top tips other than to keep things simple. By that I mean don’t crowd a room with stuff or overdecorate it as this can just make you feel overloaded. I like to walk into a room and be able to not only see the space, but see the objects and furniture within that space - without feeling overwhelmed.
Having said that, I am by no means suggesting that we should live in a controlled minimalist space. I just prefer to remove the non essential & concentrate on having a few beautiful pieces.
I recently read a quote - ‘if there is too much to see then you see nothing at all’. This really made sense to me. I am afraid I find the clashing of wallpapers/fabrics and patterns a bit self conscious and contrived. It’s like it’s all trying too hard.
That does not mean I hate pattern or colour. Just that I prefer to use it in a quiet way so that you can appreciate the beauty of a highly decorative wallpaper or fabric.
When I work with a client I always start by finding out how they live their lives and how I can make their home the calm space they need in order to function. Plus, I also like to inject some fun & a sense of humour into a home.
As we start to approach the months of the year where we retreat for resting and nesting, how do you guide clients to weave in seasonal changes in their spaces as they enjoy them across the year?
I guess for me again it would be about working with these months by adding in ‘natural’ elements to the home…
By this I mean adding a thick boucle wool blanket onto the sofa for snuggling under. Or lighting a cinnamon & amber scented candle to flicker away and add a warm, calm aroma.
During the deep long winter nights embrace that darkness by lighting your rooms with a lots of low level warm light. This can be from table lamps or even better use low cost warm white Christmas LED lights draped around, rather than the bright artificial light of a single pendant. Then stoke up any fires to add the sound of crackling wood.
In these times of high fuel bills, it is also important to put up thick winter curtains or even just wool blankets at your windows to keep out the chill and further embrace that feeling of cosy comfort.
Finally, go to the woods and bring in some lovely winter foliage. This is to remind yourself that things are not dead, but merely ‘wintering’.
What is on the horizon for you for the rest of the year and into 2023? And how can folk work with you?
Well I have just got back from doing the paint colours for a beautiful chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland. And will also be working on the final furnishings for a coastal house in Scotland that I started in May.
Long term, I’m very lucky to be doing a house project with some old clients from The Cotswolds, as well as completing a beach front project in Deal.
For next year I have a very exciting idea in plan to develop a range of incredible eco paint colours. However, it is very early days so watch this space…
With all my projects I am always happy to chat to any new potential people about how I can help them with their home. Whether it be a whole house or just one room.
I aways start with an informal meeting over a coffee to talk through ideas. This is to get a feel for the architecture and how they want the interiors to be - and then we take if from there. Every project and every client is different, and that is why I love what I do.
How can folk find out more about you?
Facebook: Gabriel Holland Interior Design
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