Beautiful Rooms by Zoe: How to make your home a haven

Tips & guides

24 September 2018

AXA are once again sponsoring the Grand Room sets at Grand Designs Live, returning to Birmingham's NEC between 10 - 14 October. With the theme of this year's show being 'design by you', we've tasked six designers to transform their sets into spaces that buck interior design trends and champion their individual style.

Here, Zoe Perks of Beautiful Rooms by Zoe chats to us about leaving her marketing career behind to kickstart her interior design business, the mental health benefits of mindful design, and easy steps you can take to make your bedroom and bathroom respites from the frantic pace of modern day living.


What drew you to a career in interior design?

As a child I loved being creative, so I'd say I've always had an inkling for design. Initially I set out to pursue a design-related role but for one reason or another, I ended up taking a completely different path and established a career in corporate communications and marketing. However, my interest in interior design never waned, and I have spent many years designing and decorating my own home as well as offering a creative eye to my friends and family.

As I approached 40, my career in communications grew increasingly stressful until one day I just knew that this wasn't where I wanted to be for the next 20 years. I decided to call time on my marketing career and chase something that I knew I would love doing: working in interior design.

In 2015 I went off to study a diploma in interior design at the National Design Academy before launching Beautiful Rooms by Zoe in 2016. I'm in my second year now and even though it's still early days, things are going really well.

What inspires your style?

I'm very much inspired by the beauty, history and character of old properties and styles from the Victorian and Georgian era together with the simplicity and form of mid-century design. I tend to work on slightly newer properties, so I really try to work with clients to bring character and traditional design into their homes whilst also incorporating modern influences and artisanal products.

Talk us through your Grand Room, which you've designed as a place to relax away from the stresses of modern life. Do you think it's important that we design these areas of our homes as mindful spaces?

Some people think of bedrooms and bathrooms as purely functional spaces. For me, however, I find them to be the most restful places where I can do the things that I find most relaxing – from soaking in a hot bath with a good book to reading the Sunday papers in bed without feeling pressured to keep an eye on the clock.

What I find so interesting about the topic of creating a mindful space – and I think we need to be very careful about the use of mindfulness because it's so in vogue now – is that it means different things to different people.

As I mentioned above, for me, a mindfully-designed room is one that aids relaxation and wellbeing – which is something that we don't always have at the top of our priorities given the hectic pace of modern life.

That's why, when I learned that the theme of this year's Grand Designs Live was ‘design by you', I decided to create a bedroom and bathroom space where you can recharge your batteries away from the world.

Talk us through the process of designing the room. Why did you choose the fabrics and materials you've opted for?

I've tried to capture the beauty and character of an old French farmhouse by utilising or imitating rustic textures and natural materials including layers of plaster, stone, wood and linen offset against a gentle, relaxing colour palette of grey greens and dusky pinks.

I've contrasted this with luxurious modern, tactile touches including polished glass, smooth metals and velvety textures, which are enhanced with delicate layers of warm feature lighting and foliage. I think combing natural and comforting materials within each space makes them feel super relaxing.

What tips can you give our readers when it comes to creating mindful spaces within their own homes?

The key to establishing your bedroom, bathroom or any other room you want to be a designated relaxation zone is to get rid of all the things that distract you from relaxing and implement the things you love. Here's what I think you should keep in mind when you're designing your own mindful spaces in the home:

  1. Declutter: Whether it's a constantly overflowing laundry basket or a pile of old magazines, you've got to get rid of the clutter that's preventing the space from feeling calm - you don't want a constant reminder of tasks you should be ticking off your to-do list! Establishing some order and getting rid of things you don't need are great ways to make the space feel more zen.
  2. Surround yourself with a few of your favourite things: Once you've emptied your space of all the things you don't need, decorate it with all the things you love. This could mean hanging your favourite family photographs, showing off your collection of quirky glassware or adorning the space with dozens of candles. By filling mindful spaces with things that bring you joy, you're more likely to enjoy spending time – and switch off from the world – in them.
  3. Putting off DIY? Just do it: When it comes to DIY tasks, try not to put off the little niggles in these spaces that constantly remind that you need to get a job done. Regardless if it's a fresh coat of paint or fixing a piece of turned down wallpaper, complete these tasks as soon as you can so you can focus on the doing the lovely things you want to do in the room.
  4. Choose colours that lift your mood: It's well known that blues and greens are very restful colours but when it comes to designing your mindful spaces, think about your individuality and implement colours that make you feel rested.
  5. Be tech savvy: I wouldn't say that your mindful spaces should be tech-free zones as reading a book on your Kindle or listening to your favourite songs or podcasts on your Amazon Echo can be great ways to unwind after a stressful day. I think it's about getting rid of the techs that prevent you from feeling rested. Why not try leaving smartphones out of these rooms to get away from the noise of social media and pick up a good old-fashioned book instead? Getting your eyes away from a screen is a sure-fire way to calm your mind and help you live in the moment.

Fancy heading along to Grand Designs Live this October to see Zoe's design in person? Enter our Facebook competition by telling us about your favourite part of your home and why and you could be in with a chance of winning two VIP tickets.

You design it. We'll protect it.

With AXA's award winning* home insurance you can rest easy knowing that we'll be there to protect your home when you need us most - letting you get back to your busy decorating schedule, or whatever else life throws at you.

*Personal Finance Awards 2017/18