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Local inspiration: Sadie Pizzey Interiors

Spring is on its way and if you haven’t already used the time in lockdown to revamp your home then now is as good a time as any. In the latest in our Local Inspiration series we get some tips from Guildford interiors expert Sadie Pizzey.

Former actress Sadie has turned her passion for renovating property into a full-time career and last year, her company Sadie Pizzey Interiors was shortlisted at The International Design and Architecture Awards. Here she talks about what inspires her and offers some tips on how best to embark on an interiors project, however large or small.

How did you get into interiors?

Both my husband and I are actors, that’s how we met. He is still an actor but while I absolutely loved the job, it’s not the easiest career to have alongside a family. I’ve renovated property since my early 20s. My husband and I have bought various properties and completely gutted them and we’ve never just had one main contractor, we’ve always had to project manage every single trade and learn the structural process along the way.

From that I fell in love with both the project management side of things but also the aesthetics. So, after the final one, which is the property we live in now, in Guildford, my husband said: “Either you do it as a career or we’re going to get a divorce.” Of course, he was joking but it made sense with all the experience we’d had.

Tell us more about some of your renovations…

From my very first property purchase in Peckham, I knew I never wanted to buy something that was ‘done’. My husband and I worked on that one alone. We managed to sell that just before the crash of 2008 and bought a place in Richmond, which nobody wanted because it had subsidence, it was falling down and had cracks in the walls. But, probably being quite foolish, we thought ‘How hard can it be?’

That was a massive learning curve because we had to learn how to underpin and basically put this crumbling wreck back together. We couldn’t afford to get people in so we literally did everything, from digging holes to project managing and scheduling – the whole thing. Most people would think that was a living hell, but I loved it!

That project and the others we’ve done since have helped me understand the entire process, including the technical side of things, which is so important when working with my clients. Lots of people think interiors is just choosing pretty colours and fabrics but it’s really knowing the mechanics of everything you’re putting in and how that might influence each part of the home.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’m very passionate about the fact that our interiors should reflect us – they should be an extension of us and make us feel good about our lives. They need to be our ‘battery chargers’ – we need to be able to come home and recharge to enable us to get back out there again.

I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients. I don’t want to just provide a cookie-cutter service or just give them stuff that’s on trend. I might ask them for pictures of their favourite holidays, favourite places to visit, hotels etc to really get a feel for what they like, and then I’ll build a lot of that into their design. I personally favour modern, warm interiors with lots of texture and natural materials, but it obviously depends client to client what their preferences are.

Why should someone use an interior designer?

Running any sort of project, whether it’s a single room revamp or a whole extension, takes a lot more time and is a lot more stressful than you think it’s going to be. If you use a good interior designer it will save you time, can stop you making costly mistakes and can often save you money in the long run – we share our trade discounts with our clients for example.

What are your top tips for those carrying out their own interiors project? 

You need to have planned as much as possible before you even knock down a single wall, because once the process starts, it’s like a rollercoaster that gets faster and faster with decisions and questions being fired at you from all directions. So, my top tip is to have chosen all your materials and determined the layout of every space before you even put a spade in the ground.

And, if you’re planning on using an interior designer, don’t leave it until too late in the process. The best time to bring them in is when you appoint the architect so they can work collaboratively. There might be tweaks to the layout, such as internal door or window positions, which help the overall aesthetics of the interior design that are a lot harder to change once the building work has been done.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Finding great people to collaborate with, whether that’s architects, builders, carpenters or wallpaper designers. That’s what interior design is really – finding all these brilliant, talented people and bringing them on to the project.

Are there any businesses you particularly like to champion? 

So many – Castello Bespoke, Andrew Morton Furniture, Clear Out Clutter, House Alice, who you’ve featured before and is also Guildford-based, Lisa Harpe Art, Andrew Meakin Home Automation, Aspire Bifolds, GSk Venetian and Plastering and we use a company called Reclaimed Design a lot. They source reclaimed wood from across the whole of the UK so it comes off barns and beaches. These most amazing pieces of timber that he sources can be turned into cladding, tables, whatever you need.

Sadie can be found at sadiepizzeyinteriors.com and in Instagram @sadiepizzeyinteriors

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