Naomi Cleaver Launches Interior Design Course

PUBLISHED: 15:58 07 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:15 20 February 2013

Naomi Cleaver Launches Interior Design Course

Naomi Cleaver Launches Interior Design Course

Belinda Dillon attends an interior design day at Combe House in Gittisham

Informative, inspiring and confidence-building... Belinda Dillon spends the day learning about interior design

Whether youve got the blank slate of a new home, or want to update your existing living space, the thought of tackling interior design can be daunting. How do you make open-plan spaces work for family living? Whats the best way to maximise light in north-facing rooms? Wallpaper or paint? Its a booming business just look at the groaning shelves in any newsagent but poring over magazines and watching makeover shows on TV can sometimes leave you more confused than ever.

Interior designer Naomi Cleaver knows how intimidating the process can be, so she has launched a series of workshops and clinics intended to provide people with the inspiration and confidence to design individual, comfortable, practical and cost-effective homes for themselves. The one-day courses will take place in village halls and community buildings across the county (as well as in Cornwall and Somerset), and will give people the chance to learn the principles of good design, get insider tips on planning a build, as well as offering the opportunity to discuss individual projects with Naomi.

With my own house an ongoing renovation project, I joined Naomis inaugural course at a gala day held at Combe House Hotel in Gittisham a great setting to get us all in the right frame of mind for thinking about glorious interiors. The other participants (12 in all) comprised a mixture of competition winners courtesy of South West removals and storage company Britannia Lanes (which sponsored the day), those planning rebuilding and redesign work on new or existing properties, a hotel owner in the process of remodelling suites, and people interested in interior design as a career.

We are all designers, said Naomi. We make design choices every time we decide on which clothes to wear in the morning. With this firmly in mind, we got stuck in straightaway looking at images of rooms and considering why they did or didnt work. Through analysing the room set-ups, Naomi explained the fundamental principles of good design, including proportion and scale, the rules on mixing period styles, and how to create a narrative through use of colour, contrast and clever detailing. Compelling design tells a story, she said.

As well as passing on invaluable information about dealing with statutory bodies, builders and suppliers, Naomi conveyed the importance of meticulous planning. We were advised to approach all design projects whether redecorating a single room or embarking on a complete build methodically and analytically, by listing all the practical elements to be considered, such as light, storage, structure, etc, and then marrying these aspects with how we want to live. The logical meets the abstract, was how Naomi described the process. In getting to know my building, I learnt, I can make better decisions about how to create a home that perfectly suits my lifestyle.

When planning your home, think wishfully, said Naomi. List the ideal and then work from that. Think creatively about how you might want to use space. She suggested using active verbs bathing, cooking, resting to list how we use our living space, to get us thinking about how we perform particular actions in the home. Get to know yourself and your household; be honest about how you live, and incorporate that into your design scheme. As for getting ideas, creativity starts with our environment. Look out of the window at the areas character, take inspiration about colour schemes from nature.

To crystallize the theoretical aspects of the day, we embarked on practical tasks: two projects that got us using our new-found knowledge. The first involved working in pairs to evaluate the plans for an architect-designed kitchen. We debated the pros and cons of the design, taking into account the practical elements and budgetary implications as well as aesthetic considerations. We removed walls, rearranged worktops and squared off curves very liberating! The second project was much more involved: to come up with a design to turn the room we were in Combe Houses fantastic Georgian kitchen into a self-contained apartment. The results were fascinating, and revealed how the course had inspired us to think creatively about interior design, as well as boosting our confidence.

Its really given me the motivation to have a go, said Sue Paine, who wants to redesign the bedrooms at the hotel she owns in Woodbury, outside Exeter. But I also feel more confident about being able to convey my ideas clearly to any experts that I call in.

Jo Morgan, who is just starting out in the interior design business, highlighted how enjoyable the day had been. Its been really good fun, she said, and Naomi reinforces that aspect that interior design should be fun.

Andrew Macfarlane, who, with his wife Christine, was about to tackle a significant design project at their new house, summed up my thoughts on the day perfectly: Its been the most inspiring day, educationally, Ive ever had. Naomi has inspired us and filled us with ideas. In fact, shes provided a Britannia Lanes lorry full of knowledge!

For more information about upcoming dates and venues, email:

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