The Story Behind Chatelaine Interiors: Transforming Spaces through Fabrics 6th June 2023 | IN DESIGN ADVICE | BY SBID

As a teenager the founder of Chatelaine Interiors Stephanie Douthwaite worked in a fabric shop and studied textile design at university. After working in the software industry, following a suggestion from a friend, she began making curtains and founded Chatelaine Interiors. Ten years on and Stephanie has a list of both trade and private clients; their commissions include country houses, boutique hotels, town houses and apartments.

Why did you want to work in the interior design profession?

Inspired by my mum and grandmother’s love of sewing, I fell in love with sewing and fabrics at a young age, spending countless hours creating a mixture of soft furnishings. As a teenager I worked in a fabric shop where I really flourished with the experimental nature of fabrics. The emotion that it evokes in myself and others led me to further my passion for interior design where I studied textile design at university. Interior design offers a unique experience mixing both creative and structured environments, throughout the years of working in the interior design I have witnessed the evolution of trends, technology and fabrics which has always interested me.

fabrics, The Story Behind Chatelaine Interiors: Transforming Spaces through Fabrics

Which elements of your profession do you enjoy the most?

As an interior designer who specialises in soft furnishings there are several factors that contribute to my love of interiors. My favourite element is meeting the client and the consultations throughout the project. The feeling when you find the perfect sample to go with a colour scheme. The Unique challenges that each job has and the reward along the way.

I also love working with fabrics, the ability they hold to transform a space completely to the clients desire and personality is so unique.

What has been your most memorable career highlight from the past year?

My most memorable career highlight from the past year has to be the numerous whole houses we have worked on, from Listed Properties, to houses in the centre of London there is a big sense of achievement when a large project is completed to the schedule and the client is happy. Reaching a such significant milestone in my business journey has been the relocation to our new spacious workroom and the expansion of our team. Witnessing the growth of the business in this manner has been an immense source of pride and fulfilment.

fabrics, The Story Behind Chatelaine Interiors: Transforming Spaces through Fabrics

What are your favourite types of projects to work on and why?

I enjoy working on a variety of different projects because they all have their own unique challenges. I mostly enjoy projects where we have done work at the property previously and the clients have remembered us years later when they want to redecorate another room. Working with other interior designers and clients who are very creative allows for new opportunities for us to create something truly unique. However, any positive impact on a clients life makes a project enjoyable for me regardless of the size.

What are the most challenging aspects of working in interior design?

There are a variety of different aspects within interior design which are challenging. Project coordination and time management are key to ensuring that a project runs as smoothly and on-time as possible. Thankfully, we have a very experienced project manager who is always ensuring that all the components of a project have been meticulously planned out and ensures that the clients expectations are always set realistically. Furthermore, if there are any delays then the client knows of them straight away and can adjust accordingly. Finally unforeseen challenges are the most challenging because you never know when to expect them or the magnitude of them until they arrive.

fabrics, The Story Behind Chatelaine Interiors: Transforming Spaces through Fabrics

What do you wish you knew before working in the field?

How important building a network of reputable designers, suppliers and contractors is, they are all critical to interior design projects and are needed in every project. Having someone who you can rely on for part of the project can take lots of the stress and time away from you which will leave you to do the more important aspects of the projects. Additionally, to recognise how important your brand identity is with your marketing and to always ensure that you have professional photographs taken.

If you could give one tip to aspiring designers, what would it be?   

Do not be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and to embrace every opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills. With the field ever moving it is important to stay on top of developing techniques and technologies by taking every opportunity to learn, build and grow. Ensure you attend lots of networking events to find reliable contractors and suppliers to help you on your journey.

How do you see the interior design industry evolving in the year ahead?

I see the design industry continuing its push towards being more sustainable and eco-friendly. Last year I visited Rapture & Wright which was an incredible experience to see how they make their fabric and the processes with the paint creation and breakdown after use. I believe other fabric houses will be following suite creating a more sustainable and futureproof design industry. I feel certainly from clients that they have been more conscious of where everything comes from and if there are better alternatives that can be chosen within their budget. I also think from COVID-19 that lots of clients have been trying to alter their spaces to be more versatile to many different needs such as trundle beds in offices.

fabrics, The Story Behind Chatelaine Interiors: Transforming Spaces through Fabrics

What does being an SBID Accredited Interior Designer mean to you?

Being an accredited interior designer by the SBID holds great personal significance to me and my business. It represents a significant achievement, as it demonstrates that I have successfully met the rigorous standards and criteria set by a respected professional organisation in the design field. Being accredited reinforces my credibility and assures clients that they can expect a certain level of quality and professionalism when working with me and my business. Additionally, the access to value researches that the SBID provide help to keep me well-informed with trends and aids me in collaboration with like-minded accredited designers.

fabrics, The Story Behind Chatelaine Interiors: Transforming Spaces through Fabrics

Questions answered by:

Stephanie Douthwaite

Founder, Chatelaine Interiors Ltd

About Chatelaine Interiors

Founded in 2012, Chatelaine Interiors offers a personalised service to clients with commissions including country houses, boutique hotels, town houses and apartments from Berkshire to Chelsea and Wiltshire. Whether working with property owners, developers, or interior designers, Stef and her team provide a first-class service using high-quality fabrics to create luxurious made to measure curtains and soft furnishings.

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