Article by Janice Morley
Not sure how to put your individual stamp on your brand-new home? Let Felicity Stevens, 29, Weston Homes interior designer and creative director of Haus Interiors, inspire you. Felicity produced three distinct styles for show apartments at Victoria Central, the new Weston Homes development set on a wide boulevard moments from the seafront in Southend, the Essex coastal resort town boasting the world’s longest pleasure pier, at 1.33 miles. Only 40 miles from London, this fresh, new building with its impressively large, light reception entrance reflects the future for Southend – which will soon have a new-look town centre.
STYLE MEETS HARMONY
It takes a trained eye to see beyond the white walls of a newly built property and make the best use of the light and space, to create a home with individuality. Shying away from the safe option of many home buyers to paint it all neutral, Felicity says: “No one is really beige. It does not reflect anyone’s personality. Be brave. This is your chance to use fresh ideas. Do not alienate your personality from your property.” You are in safe hands with Felicity, who is a natural harmoniser. She learned early at Birmingham University, where she did her Arts Foundation Course, that she was, quite literally, at home in interior design. She is confident of her style, which is based on practical ideas for the good use of space and a strong look, all within a sensible budget – shopping online for artwork and pieces from talented young craftspeople. She learned about working to budget in her first retail job at the sharp end with Aldi supermarkets, discovering how to create eye-catching product displays to tempt the shopper. With this invaluable experience under her belt she moved back full time to her first love, interior decorating, joining her partner, Brad, and his brother, Alex Carmen, in their own company, Haus Interiors, specialising in show homes.
FUN BY THE SEA
When she won the Victoria Central commission, Felicity decided to reflect the coastal location in the first of the three apartments she was tasked with designing. Here, we look in detail at her inspiration for the one-bedroom show home. Kitchens and bathrooms are sorted with their fabulous fittings, so she concentrates on the bedroom and the spacious living room-diner in this apartment.
“I had a professional young person in mind as the buyer,” Felicity reveals. “It is an easy commute to London. I think that person could be quite on-trend and aspiring. I decided to have a bit of fun with seaside candy floss colours. It is a good, open-plan space [a sprinkler system embedded into the ceilings takes away the need for fire doors], so light floods in from the big balcony windows and fills the whole lounge and kitchen area, with no dark corridors. “I worked on a mood board with a pastel palette of soft pink, mint green and lemon yellow, all tied together with a dark and punchy royal blue.” To create continuity, Felicity colour-streamed this palette into the bedroom, designing a stunning Art Deco-style feature headboard of layered, cut-out shapes in grey, pale and dark, with the royal blue, below a large, circular mirror. The colour palette is a very innovative way of adding interest. “With a one-bed flat, where you do not have lots of rooms to change the style, it is important to have different views from wherever you are sitting in your big lounge/kitchen open-plan room. Use paint or paper to make the divisions.”
To accommodate the need to work from home, which may well continue after coronavirus lockdown for many people, Felicity created a wall desk in MDF with open shelves, finished in pale candy pink, and commissioned a picture that hangs above, echoing the 3D Art Deco theme in pastels and deep turquoise. “Use art in interior design, especially in a small space,” she advises. “It adds depth to a flat wall. It is not expensive to commission – postgrad art students are grateful for the work. Do a Google search in your area and see who comes up. “Similarly, do not be afraid to ask a local carpenter to make a piece of furniture. That way, you can scale down a desk and get something to fit an awkward area. And make the most of wall-mounted shelving, to free up your floor space.” She also creates feature walls by covering radiators with a frame of wooden battens on which she hangs display shelves. Felicity positively loves accessorising, with ceramics being her favourite choice. Whether tall and slim or short and fat, curved or grooved, punched through or patterned, she fills shelves with them. “And when I get bored with them, I move them all round.” But she’s also ultra-careful when considering lighting and likes to oversize here: “Why have a boring light if you can have a statement piece?” Following through with the aim of always making the space interesting, she never forgets the floor and has go-to websites for rugs. She says: “Rugs add texture, comfort and style.”
Weston Homes have super-luxurious floors, plus deep carpet in the main bedroom. Buyers can choose their shade of floor surface, but rugs add the designer boost. So do mirrors, which Felicity places along walls in rows or squares, strategically hung to reflect light.
In the two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments there is more scope for statement wallpaper and Felicity’s choices are light-reflecting, textured or large-patterned, their colours picked out in accessories. Everything hangs together to create an entire look that’s pleasing, sympathetic and comforting in its continuity – Felicity’s flair providing the key to turning a white space into a home.
To read our exclusive guide on Southend-on-sea click here.