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Furnishing a New Build Flat

Posted on 15th July 2018

Sofa and cushions

I took the call from this client regarding his new build flat while I was on a three day mini cruise. The signal at sea was terrible, I couldn’t hear the client very well, and I was sitting at a tiny desk in our cabin swaying all over the place, scribbling notes on a few scraps of paper that I’d found. Not the most professional of environments to take a client call, but it was a lesson to me that when you start running your own business, you’re rarely off the clock, even at sea.

The brief was an exciting one though. The client had a new build flat that he wanted furnishing to what he described as a ‘serviced apartment’ standard. He would be living there Monday to Friday for work and he would be renting the flat out on Airbnb at the weekends, so the design and furnishings had to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The client requested a full turnkey service, which meant I was doing everything, including designing, sourcing, ordering, taking deliveries, installing and styling the property. This meant buying everything, down to the smallest items like teaspoons. The client also stipulated that he needed to be able to move into the property and as a minimum be able to sleep and eat there by the following Monday. That gave me EIGHT days.

The work was very, very hard. I had to come up with a design for the entire flat within a day, because I only had seven remaining days to get sofas and beds ordered and delivered, which was no mean feat. The client gave me free reign, confessing he had ‘no idea’ about interiors, and described himself as a bachelor. Being a new build flat, the property was neutral throughout, with cream carpets, wooden floor and cream walls. Quite often when I’m coming up with a design, I’ll stumble across a piece that I love and end up creating the design around that. In this case, it was a striking print from Desenio. I wanted two pictures for above the sofa but I couldn’t  find a second one which I thought complimented it well enough, so I bought two of the same and turned one of them on its head. Ta-da, different pictures, and the basis of my design.

Bedroom styling

I personally think that when you have a fairly small property, its best to keep the design and furnishings similar throughout. This gives the illusion of one room flowing into the next seamlessly, which makes them feel bigger, rather than a very abrupt end where one style finishes and another one starts. For this flat, I stuck with a cream and navy theme with dark wood and gold accents throughout.

This type of turnkey project was a first for me, and I learnt absolutely loads whilst completing it, but I have to be very honest and say I didn’t really enjoy it. I tried to do far too much in a very small amount of time and the client's expectations where (rightly so) very high. I had a panic part of the way through that I couldn’t successfully deliver what he wanted, and I had to check in with myself and tell myself to get a grip. I spent four hours one evening traipsing around Ikea buying lots of the basic items, and having filled one trolley had to pay, load up the car and force myself to go straight back in for round two, which is far too much Ikea time even for the biggest fan. My little Fiesta was not big enough to fit everything in (I’m pretty sure interior designers need a 4x4, or better yet a truck), and carrying everything solo up to the first floor flat took me about fourteen trips. I learnt that ironing bedding and three sets of curtains takes ABSOLUTELY HOURS, and that waiting in an empty flat that has no tv, wifi, or even signal during two hour delivery slots that then don’t turn up is nothing short of soul destroying.

However, my soul was mended after walking around the flat when it was finished and seeing everything I had achieved. The end result was a rich looking, warm design with masculine tones and tasteful finishes. The client was so pleased and really loved the design, and I felt so thoroughly proud of myself for completing it within his timeframe and within budget, that it made all of the hard work worth it.

Let me know what you think. Karly x


  1. I loved this post! It was great to hear about the behind the scenes of it and how you felt along the way. It makes it much more realistic if others are thinking about a career in interiors. I can’t wait to see more from you.

  2. I love your honesty in this post, it sounded like such hard work in the time frame given! And talk about throwing you in at the deep end, what a great way to get started. The matching pictures turned upside down is a fab idea and it looks so effective, definitely an idea to bare in mind.

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Thanks for stopping by! I'm Karly Louise and I run an affordable interiors, fashion and lifestyle blog. I'm also the founder of Cloud Interiors - an interior design and styling company based near Reading, Berkshire.

Follow @karlylouise_x on instagram for updates!


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Reading based interior design company specialising in residential design for private clients across Berkshire and surrounding areas.
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