By Leanne Pollard from Hattie Lloyd Home
Interior Design is for everyone
Ella De Wastney shares her journey from the fashion industry to owning an Interior Design studio and explains why interior design REALLY is for everyone.
I walked down Gillygate in York, which for once was not gridlocked with traffic. This road is full of lovely independent cafes, restaurants and shops which were mostly closed due to lockdown. The subdued vibe to the street vanished as soon as I arrived outside Ella De Wastney Interiors studio. Her shop window is full of colour and head-turning homeware from huge giraffe chandeliers, richly textured cushions, and limited-edition David Bowie prints. I must have caught Ella's eye, and she waved me to come in while she was sitting at a gorgeous glass desk inside.
Ella offered me the best smelling hand sanitizer I have come across so far!
The studio is just a cave of fun, alluring and unique items. I asked Ella if the studio was in 'her favourite style'? "'No, I love this style, but it isn't my own; I wanted to create a totally different type of studio for York. I would describe it not just as a studio but more of an inspirational space".
Ella showed me more amazing lamps and fabrics from a collection of newly arrived stock from Paris where she sources many of her items as well as Milan.
Ella and I connected quickly with our shared passion of interiors, so I was interested to learn more about why she became an Interior Designer and how she had built her business to now warrant opening her amazing studio last year.
I loved hearing how Ella began working in fashion as a Visual Merchandiser in the 70's for the hugely popular fashion brand of the time 'Chelsea Girl' she began. "It was such an exciting time; it could be fun and gruelling at the same time, but I had some of the most amazing experiences" Ella continued "I then started a new role as high-end fashion wholesale buyer working for Italian brands such as Liberto. I was based on The Kings Road in London, and it was the most exciting place to be at the time. I built fantastic relationships over time with many Italian high-end fashion brands. With these contacts and great relationships, I was able to begin working freelance introducing these brand's fashion collections to high-end boutiques in the north of England".
"I learnt so much, but when I finally came to raising a family my priorities changed, and I felt I had grown out of the fast and sometimes ruthless fashion industry. Interiors and fashion have a natural connection, so I decided to retrain with a degree in Interior Design. Laura Ashley appreciated the work I had done to gain my degree and offered me a role as an interior designer. I really did land on my feet and worked for Laura Ashley for 19 years, managing their Interior Designers for the North of England and Scotland. It was a great experience, and I am sad to see their stores close".
I shared my own passion for interior design and how I felt it was perceived by many as quite pretentious, not unlike the fashion industry. Ella agreed, but that led to her defining why she had been so successful in building such a strong client base in York and further afield. "I think an Interior Designer can be viewed as a luxury service and that isn't the case" Ella Points out. "I have a range of clients, some where I can design an entire home or hotel, then others that I help choose one pair of curtains. My job is to serve my client and help them achieve a style they love within their budget. The studio is full to the brim of paint, wallpaper, and fabric samples to really get my clients inspired to make confident choices. My job is to ensure my clients get it right first time. I really enjoy colour consultations, I have had clients who admit to fearing colour, to then be transformed into colour enthusiast within an hour. The most rewarding thing for me is they never look back after that moment and I am excited when they revisit sharing their big plans to add colour to the rest of their home" Ella smiles "Interior design is for everyone and can be very affordable".
Ella's studio reflected her confidence in bold colour, although she reminded me that if a client wanted to achieve an English Country theme, that is what she would create for them. "I have 25 years of experience so my clients are buying my experience but also my contacts including the best Furniture Designers, Decorators, Kitchen Designers, Seamstresses, Curtain Fitters, Builders, Upholsterers & Artists who won't let them down" Ella added. "So in that time I have built a huge portfolio of commercial and residential clients, but I also help Interior businesses create amazing exhibition stands for shows like the Spring Fair at the NEC, I enjoy having this mixed client base which is not something all Interior Designers like to do".
I was impressed to hear how Ella moved all her products to her online store at a swift pace during lockdown, and it was great to hear how business was now warming up for her again. Reassuringly, she had visited another Toni & Guy in Cheshire for refurbishments after the hair salon brand were super impressed with the work Ella had completed in their York branch.
It was fantastic to meet Ella, who just like her studio is fun, warm, and friendly. Her portfolio of clients and range of different ideas reminded me of how creative and versatile Interior Designers must be.
Ella's inspiring studio is definitely worth a visit!
Ella De Wastney Interiors
Instagram & Facebook @elladewastneyinteriors
44 Gillygate, York, YO31 7EQ