Beautiful interior design doesn't happen overnight. In fact, Creative Director Stacey Sibley has dedicated the last 17 years to Alexander James Interior Design, the award-winning company delivering the most stunning interiors to the UK's show houses, private homes and rental apartments.
Having trained in graphic design and styling, Stacey began her career at an interior design company that specialised in show homes. Her passion for creating beautiful properties led her to Alexander James Interior Design in 2000.
What began as membership of a team of five has evolved into Stacey heading up a department of 22 designers, while the Alexander James group has expanded to employ more than 100 staff in total.
Much has changed as Stacey has grown and developed with the Alexander James team. She is now responsible for the creative side of the business, overseeing designers and managing creative direction, as well as undertaking design work for key clients and keeping up with the latest industry trends. Here she shares her highlights of the experience.
Why is your role essential to the process of delivering stunning interiors?
At Alexander James I oversee the creative teams and the smooth running of the design studio, ensuring we deliver the best possible result on every project, as well as undertaking design projects myself. My role blends both creativity and organisational skills, which don't always go hand in hand! That combination of skills is essential to delivering stunning interiors, particularly when it comes to show houses, which have to be incredibly efficient and deliver smooth installations that run to deadline.
How would you describe your own style?
I have quite a varied taste, which has changed over the years. For my own home, I like a relaxed style with a mix of old and new. I've developed a homely feel that encourages me to unwind and that perfectly suits my family and my two gorgeous Westies, Alfie and Piglet. I've opted for soft colours, as I need a calm sanctuary with plenty of light. I love styling and finding one-off pieces from vintage shops.
How has interior design changed since the start of your career?
Quite a lot! A good example is window treatments, which have changed massively - they've gone from Austrian blinds, chintz, big bows, swags and tails to clean lines, and crisp, functional finishes. The days of matching wallpaper and fabrics are also thankfully long gone!
In recent years, we've seen a shift away from chrome, which was everywhere five years ago. We're also seeing the resurgence of gold, which is now being used in a contemporary way, along with copper, brass and rose gold. The mixture of using traditional, rustic woods with modern metals has been a big change in the past few years as well.
Most recently, it was The Chapel at Mill Hill, North London. The vast, vaulted ceiling and huge open living space meant that it was a challenge to make it feel like a home rather than a chapel! It also threw up some interesting challenges in terms of getting the scale of furniture and artwork right. It was a fascinating project to work on, but it did have some very unique challenges. The different finishes - lots of marble and stone - also meant that we had to think carefully about the acoustics in order to produce a warm, homely feeling rather than a chamber full of echoes!
Which is your favourite room to design?
Each property is unique, so I don't have a preferred room, as such. My favourite types of rooms are those that are an awkward shape. That might be a kitchen in one property and a guest bedroom in another. The challenge of overcoming the spatial complexity is very rewarding.
What are the top trends to look out for in the years ahead?
Things now going more into natural elements - bringing nature into the home. Olive green is big this year and we're seeing muted pinks coming back as well. We're also finding that clients are keen for quite an eclectic feel at the moment, which looks like a trend that will develop further over the years ahead. It's about mixing the old with the new in order to achieve a more 'lived in' look.
In terms of particular objects, Tom Faulkner's Odessa cabinet is just beautiful and very on trend - the geometric lines and inlaid bronze are simple yet stunning, and a great example of the future of designer cabinetry.
Is there anything that one should always avoid when it comes to interior design?
There are several things, but top of my list is making rooms feel dark and oppressive. Rooms should be light, bright and airy, not crammed with oversized furniture and so many dark colours that they make you want to leave the moment you walk into them!
What's your secret quick win for those looking to transform their home on a budget?
Paint! Light, bright walls can completely transform a room. Just make sure they match the colour palette of the furnishings and artwork already in the room, it the walls are the only element being changed.
Finally, what are your top three interior design tips?
Firstly, look at the space and plan furniture scales correctly - don't assume anything! Measure the room and check dimensions carefully, as well as thinking about the use of the space. Beauty has to combine with functionality and provision needs to be made for storage as well.
Next, let textures be your friend. Enjoy the variety available and be playful with them, layering contrasting fabrics and finishes in order to avoid too much of any one texture.
Lastly, think carefully about lighting. There's such a huge variety of lighting options available and each can influence the overall feel of a room. Plan the lighting just as carefully as all the other elements to be sure it will work as part of the overall vision.