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SHELLEY SAFARI | Luxury Lifestyle & Interior Design

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An interview with Shelley from the Quintessentially Living book:

How would you define or explain what you do? You do more than design interiors, it could be said you are a coach, a personal advisor even a psychological profiler, whose expertise and eye for detail enable you to customise a person's precious living space with great effect. Is this accurate?

Designing your home should be a fun and enjoyable experience... I work with this foremost in mind. It's a very personal process and by being perceptive and insightful to my clients' wants and needs, I provide a calm yet exhilarating journey from start to finish. I like to work closely with my clients, giving me time to really get to know them... and them me! And to understand what it is they actually want. Many people have an eye for style and know roughly what they like and dislike, so for some, it's just a question of guidance, suggestion and pulling the design together for a perfect and rewarding result which really reflects their own individuality. Occasionally my clients will give me a completely free rein (usually if they are overseas) but my favourite projects are when designing a home becomes a 'partnership' between me and my client... I guess I'm 'your best friend who just happens to be an interior designer'.

What do you feel is the most important 'starting point' in any design?

Art! To me art is an intrinsic part of any design conception. It is a vital element, the 'heart' of any room. When you begin with the art you can create a beautiful and meaningful space inspired by the general 'feel' of an artwork rather than designing an entire room first and then trying to find an artwork to match your cushions after! I offer art consultancy and work with major international art galleries and experts, having direct access to hundreds of artists, sculptors and photographers around the world. 'Good' art need not be expensive, my sources range from the affordable hundreds... to the masters... and the hundred of thousands. We can also offer commissioned work which provides great scope for colour and dimension, and commission bespoke sculptures. With such a large and diverse range of talent, the possibilities are endless!

What are the essentials that in your opinion transform a house into a home?

Lighting/mirrors/warmth and the ability to feel 'at home' in even the most stylish and seemingly 'pristine' environment. We all want a beautiful home, but we also need to be able to actually 'live' in it! Children, pets, parties... all those elements of 'destruction' need to be taken into consideration at the beginning of any project. I also think that items which are of sentimental of personal value to the client should be incorporated into the design somehow. This is vital because a 'home' should be just that... 'a home!'.

What brought you to this particular point in your professional life?

A couple of years ago I came to a turning point in my life when I had to decide what I really wanted to do professionally. I had been developing properties for myself for many years and it had always been a passion and labour of love with each property. Becoming an interior designer seemed the most obvious and best way to fulfil my love of property design and is by far the best choice I have ever made.

Would you say you have a particular style or signature? Or do you adapt to the person whose space you are creating and adorning?

I don't really have a particular style or signature as I am rather fickle when it comes to style in the sense that I can be in love with several trends or genres at once and constantly change my 'favourites'. I think this versatility helps when adapting to my clients' needs as I'm always bursting with several ideas all at once!

Can you tell us about any projects that you are currently working on?

My favourite project coming up is a beautiful country house in the home counties which I've been commissioned to start this spring. It will be a blank canvas and I'm very excited about the amazing opportunities to use and to integrate the lovely original features of the property into the design.

What would be your dream interiors project?

Most definitely an Art Deco home. To be given carte blanche to faithfully reconstruct an interior using original furniture and, where possible, original fabrics and wallpapers. That, and perhaps a villa in Bali (my most cherished place right now!) Having rooms without walls provides all sorts of unusual an interesting design alternatives!

What are the preferred materials that you use across your designs?

I like to find unusual elements that add a subtle difference to an otherwise classic or mainstream look. For example, the alcove light features I recently designed are handmade and totally transformed the room they were placed in. Sometimes, just a simple strip of salmon skin across a cushion can create a unique point of interest. I love glass and natural woods, leather, silk and velvets. I'm extremely tactile even when shopping for clothes. I will run my hands over almost every garment just to feel the texture.

How would you define the term luxury?

Everyone's definition of luxury is so different and very personal. I would say luxury is anything that you get a buzz looking at... every time! Something that you feel a pleasure in possessing and which gives you constant joy.

What are your personal luxuries?

Time! There seems to be so very little of it! If I find an extra unexpected ten minutes in which to just relax and have a coffee and be 'me' that is a total luxury! Other than that I would have to say flowers, my electric blanket and my beautiful bottles of various shapes, sizes and colours in my bathroom, oh, and my sheepskin rug in front of the the fire which is also my cat's favourite luxury!

Do you foresee any particular trends emerging in interior design / furniture design?

As with all fashion, interior design is generally cyclical, but the impact on what we are able to create and design is very much influenced by the constant progression of technology within the textile and manufacturing industries. With consistently faster technology opening up new avenues of media integration into our everyday lives and homes, there are always new, exciting and innovative ideas to explore and implement.

What sort of hobbies do you do in your spare time (if you have any!)

I paint - not professionally, but just for fun. It was always a passion of mine and recently re-kindled after a visit to the Far East which inspired me so much that on my return from the airport I didn't even unpack but just ran to my local art shop, grabbed a canvas and started painting. I didn't leave my apartment for the whole weekend! My daughter who is only six, seems to have been inspired too, so now we argue over whose paint brushes are whose and she 'borrows' my canvases. The results are often amazing and mostly better than mine! I also teach kick boxing (Thai Boxing to be precise) I'm a third dan and have been training for years. It keeps me fit and it's a great 'de-stresser'!

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years?

A-Hmm... actually not far from where I'm at right now! I'm loving every moment...!