Q&A With Interior Design Masters Contestant Siobhan Murphy

We are so excited to sit down with Siobhan, a contestant on the brilliant season 2 of Interior Design Masters on BBC2 to find out more about her interior design style and passions as well as getting a few design tips too. 

Siobhan (@interiorcurve) lives in Castleford in West Yorkshire with her husband Nick and beautiful ragdoll cat Benji. 

Siobhan, tell us a little about yourself

“We live in a beautiful art deco home that was built for a lady GP in 1936 who both lived here and used it as her practice for over 20 years.”  

“After I left school, I studied fashion and accessories. I have a real love affair with colour and pattern. I love the creative process of designing and making things, turning something plain and bland into a riot of colour and theatre. Interior design is my one true love, and that’s why I was drawn to being on BBC2’s Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr.

How would you best describe your interior style?

Maybe because of my love for fashion, I am drawn to colours, patterns, textures, mixing old with new, modern with vintage. Someone once described my house as ‘Escape to the chateau’ on acid and I think that sums it up perfectly. It’s modern Art Deco with a few surprises. I absolutely love Art Deco but I am influenced by many styles and I don’t feel the need to commit to only one style. I like to mix things up and choose things that interest me or things that are just incredibly beautiful.

 I definitely have a thing for velvet cocktail chairs and ostrich feather lamps. I absolutely love colour and wall coverings as I think they provide the easiest and most effective transformation that can happen in a room. 

Of course, I am definitely a maximalist at heart! Pattern, colour, texture, I can’t get enough. More is more, always!

How did you get into Interior Design? What do you love about it?

As you know, I studied fashion and accessories and I am a trained milliner, so I have always had an interest in design. I started getting into interior design after attending a workshop with renowned interior designer Abigail Ahern. She really inspired me. What I learnt from her was to throw the rule book out of the window and I just started decorating from the heart, going with my gut and not worrying about the latest trends. I started posting my house pictures on Instagram and soon enough I had a fabulous interiors community welcome me with open arms.  I think the thing I love most about interior design is that whole process of transformation. Taking something that is bland and uninspired and turning it into something totally different just really excites me. I really believe that the spaces we live in can have such a positive impact on our moods and wellbeing. I like to think I create spaces that bring people joy and that they really love to spend time in.

What’s your favourite wallpaper from our website?

It’s so hard to choose because I am a pattern fiend… but if I had to pick one, I’m going to say I’m totally in love with the liquid marble wallpaper that I used in the show home lounge in episode one of IDM. The brief was to create an aspirational and luxurious room but the budgets were really tight, so I used wallpaper as artwork panels on the wall. I cut the strips in half, put three panels up and added self-adhesive gold car trim to either side giving it a really luxe and polished look. The grey and gold marble wallpaper against the shiny gold trim looked really high end and luxurious. I think this paper is really versatile and could be used in an entire room for a real maximal look or in panels like I did. It could look amazing on a ceiling too with the light hitting it and reflecting the gold. 

Would you recommend papering the full room or just a feature wall?

I say either. It depends. In my home I’ve got a mixture. In some rooms I’ve used a mural or wallpaper on one wall and then picked out some of the colours from the pattern for the rest of the scheme. In other rooms where I wanted a more dramatic and maximalist look, I have papered every single wall. I think smaller rooms look great fully papered. If you are wanting to dip your toe in the water, then think maybe of a downstairs loo or hallway as a starting point. These are usually forgotten spaces but can be totally transformed with a couple of rolls of wallpaper and a few hours of your time.

I also think if you absolutely love the print just go for it, do one wall first and if you really love it just keep going. I recommended this approach recently to my mum in her lounge and she ended up wallpapering the entire room and she absolutely loves it, thank goodness!

Which room in your house is your favourite? What’s your next interior project in your own home?

That’s a tricky question because I love every single one and usually the one I have decorated the most recently is always my favourite. But I think because of lockdown and not being able to go out with friends for dinner and drinks I am really enjoying date nights in the tower room that I have turned into a little pink cocktail bar. It’s really nice having a space that is totally dedicated to fun and of course there is a lot of pink in there which always makes me happy. As always though, I am thinking it needs a bit of pattern in there and have been contemplating wallpapering the ceiling. Ceilings are always so neglected but not in my house, they are almost always painted out in the same colour as the walls or in some cases even gold leafed for maximum mood and drama!

What do you think will be the next big thing or interior trend?

I’m just not a trend follower so I honestly never really look at interior trends or the next seasons colours. I just know what I like and whether it’s on trend or not, if I like it then I will use it. Also the thing about trends is they come and go so often that if you followed every one you would be decorating each room every few months. I always think just go with what you like regardless because if you do that the chances are you are always going to like it and less chance of going off it.

I think the only time when trends play a part in my schemes is when I really love a print or an item of clothing and then I look for a similar wallpaper to match it.

How is your time on the Interiors Design Masters show? What has been your favourite project so far, have you learnt any new skills along the way?

I absolutely loved filming the show. It was so good to work on commercial briefs and have a budget and a team of trades to allow my vision to come to life. For amateur designers to be able to work on projects such as offices, shops, show homes and hotels was an absolute dream and getting feedback from some of the top names in the industry was just incredible.  My favourite project so far was either show homes or hotels rooms. In both of those I used really exciting wall coverings and wallpapers and could sneak in a little bit of myself in there too.

I learnt so much from the other designers on the series. Looking at the other designers and seeing what they achieved was such a massive inspiration and a great part of the show. Every single designer had something different to bring to the party. We all had such unique styles and different takes on the brief too. What I found amazing is that often I could walk into the finished room and know who had designed it. I think it’s really important as a designer that you can adapt your style to the clients brief but it’s also important to have your own signature style, something that sets you apart from the crowd. I think all of us had something special and different to add.

During the series I learned how to upholster, how to design functional furniture, sewing and finishing cushions and curtains, working with resin and gold leaf. I even learned some really good painting and wallpaper tips from the experts.

What tip would you give someone who wants to transform their space? 

I think if you are struggling to know where to start in a room then have a look on Pinterest and Instagram for some initial ideas, pull together the images on a board and that’s your starting point. What colours are you drawn to? What patterns and wallpapers catch your eye? The walls for me are always my starting point in any scheme I create and I build up everything around them such as the flooring, furniture, lighting and finally the decor – the jewellery of the scheme that pulls everything together. 

What is a tip you live by when it comes to interior design?

If you love it then it can’t be wrong! If you are decorating your own home, decorate with your heart and pick colours and wallpapers that make your heart sing, don’t worry about what other people think because decorating is so personal. It’s time to throw the rule book out of the window when it comes to interior design. I’m seeing a lot more bold schemes coming through recently and that makes me really happy.

 How do you recommend contrasting different patterns and textures?

The key to layering patterns and doing a pattern clash successfully is to ensure there is some consistency with the colour and tone. I absolutely love pattern clashes when they are done well however it’s one thing that I think is really hard to get right. My favourite clashes are animal prints mixed with florals, these can look super luxurious in a dark and decadent scheme. Samples samples samples… start building up a collection of samples of wallpaper, paint chips, fabric samples and cut out pictures that give you inspiration from magazines. For me the only way to know if certain patterns are going to work together is by seeing them next to each other in person. Sometimes It’s surprising as the ones you think might not work end up being the most effective and successful.

I want to wallpaper my ceiling. Should I go for an all-out design?

I love the bravery of a wallpapered ceiling, I’ve been painting my ceilings in my home for years but only just got into wallpapering them and the first time I did it I was like, why haven’t I done this before? The ceiling is the fifth wall after all. I would always suggest going all out but there are also other clever things I have done with ceilings. If you didn’t want to paper the whole ceiling you could panel with moulding a big square or rectangle in the middle and wallpaper inside that. Or you could do a dropped ceiling detail with MDF which could be papered too. Ensure that the lighting is in the middle and this could be a real showstopper. I have seen wallpaper used so cleverly on ceilings recently so my advice is give it a whirl.

I want to create a bold feature in my room, what would you suggest?

My advice to anyone wanting to spice things up in their home or try something different is to experiment with paint colours and wall murals, don’t be afraid to try unexpected colours and always go with your gut. I like to buy lots of samples and have a play around as the colour will change depending on the light and the time of day too. Wall coverings can be so transformative and it is probably the cheapest thing you can do to create that wow factor and maximum impact in a room. If you are not sure where to start with colour in a room, my advice is to take a look through your wardrobe. Usually the colours and patterns that are in there will be the ones that you resonate with and remember – if it makes you happy then it’s always the right choice.

I want to brighten up my bathroom. What should I look for in a wallpaper? Are there waterproof options I should go for?

I really love a bold tropical wallpaper in a bathroom scheme. Bathroom furniture tends to be quite plain and functional so I think an adventurous pattern really brings the space to life. My favourite choice would be the palms tropical leaf print which I think looks amazing in green and also in the pink too. I used this in my previous home in the dressing room and it really cheered me up every time I entered that space. I also really love the flamingo wallpaper, it’s bold, totally fun and I think it would definitely bring a smile to your face. On the I love wallpaper website you can actually search for wallpapers by room to make sure you are choosing the right paper for your space. The ones I have chosen here are both suitable. 

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