Monday, 25 July 2011

William Yeoward's Waves of Inspiration


If you are looking for a truly individual English designer, then you really do not need look any further than William Yeoward.  Interior designer Jamie Hempsall gives you an insight into this iconic style-maker.

We adore working with William, a fantastically generous and enthusiastic man who is passionate about everything he gets involved in.  We have been delighted to involve him on a number of projects, including a rather wonderful luncheon we hosted in a private country house for Macmillan Cancer Support with William as guest speaker.

Susan Crewe, editor of British House and Garden, describes him as “a man of passion, humour and an endearing power of persuasion”.  Anyone who has met him at a launch of one of his brilliant fabric collections will definitely echo that sentiment.

He embarked on a career in interior design and retail opening his first store in the King’s Road, Chelsea in 1985.  He undertook numerous interior design projects (his last being decorating for Lady Thatcher at the time she left government), but decided that he really wanted to concentrate on designing products and so ended his decorating career. 

Since then he has flourished developing fabrics, rugs, furniture, lighting and dinner services, along with antique furniture and truly jaw-droppingly beautiful crystal.  William says, “I realised very early on in my creative life that if I could not find what I wanted the best thing to do was to find someone to make it.”

William believes that a home should be lived in – no matter how fine your furniture – a sentiment that I echo whole-heartedly in all my designs.  William commented, “I think it is very important to work out what you are about and how you want to live before even contemplating a house or the things that you need to live in it comfortably”.

You are most likely to come across his work at many of the companies in Yorkshire who stock Designers Guild fabric and wallpaper for whom he designs exclusive ranges.  William explained, “Tricia Guild and I have been good friends for years and when she called me to discuss working together on a William Yeoward brand of Fabrics and Wallpaper my initial reaction was “Yes please” and so the William Yeoward collections were suddenly a reality”.

This year has seen the introduction of his Polperro range which I think is one of the most exciting new additions that I have seen for some time.  William Yeoward has dipped into his past to create three new collections within this range.

He was raised with the ocean on his doorstep.  Boating, sailing and fishing are in his blood and when he revisited the haunts of his youth he became aware of his need to use these inspirations in his work.  “There is something about the English coastline that is so unique.  There is a quality of light and a sense of freedom for me found here.  I love the colours of the landscape, the boats, the sailcloth’s, rolling pastures and the ocean spray”.

The first collection is Polperro which features a delicious selection of blue, marine, navy and sky blue stripes.  These are all woven in a traditional fashion (inspired by William’s collection of vintage pieces from 19th century European and British sources).  They have a very nautical feel to them with some terrific stripes and ticking such as Bodmin (£47 per m), as well as some distressed florals that will create an instant heritage piece if used for upholstery (look at Antony £42 per m).  There is also a wonderful ready sewn patchwork which is crying out to be made into a bedspread (£100 per m).

This second collection is St Mawes which includes combinations of red, saffron, olive and sage.  There are still plenty of beautiful stripes and a wonderful array of colours such as Boscastle a heavy cotton fabric which cleverly combines red, petrol blue and saffron to dramatic effect (£51 per m).  The range features a great deal more pattern than Polperro, such as the glorious Millbrook in Poppy (£42 per m).

The collection also includes St Just a fine, almost pinstripe design, made of heavy jute and cotton mix, which was originally a sackcloth from Lithuania.  This fine weave is smart, yet rustic and would look well used on sofas and chairs (£68 per m).  As with the other collection, there is a beautiful patchwork – also called Polperro, but in a brighter range of colours (£100 per m).

The final instalment is the St Ives wallpaper collection a stripe devotees dream come true.  These papers have a real feeling of what simplicity should be.  Devoran is beautifully textured and the detailed stripes of Whitstone and Trewen are delicate and considered.  In contrast, Boyton and St Ives are the classic stripe, revisited, re-coloured and reused.  The wallpapers mentioned are all £42 per roll.

So what is the secret behind William Yeoward’s design success? “It’s simple” he says, “I just design what I would like to have in my home and fortunately there are other people who seem to like it too!  Buying my work should bring long term pleasure not instant gratification and then years of disappointment”.

That is a sentiment I truly believe in and one which makes using William’s products such a pleasure.

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, is an award winning interior designer.  Visit him at or call on 0800 032 1180.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A hard act to follow

Portugese Barreme
Homes and Interiors

WEARING WELL: Stone is back in vogue. Interior designer Jamie Hempsall talks you through the best options.

There was a time when carpet and natural floorboards were the only realistic options when it came to domestic flooring. However, in recent years, the trend to re-introduce stone flooring into the home has grown considerably.

Stone is an incredibly flexible material that can be a solution for virtually any area in the home. While the initial outlay can be considerable, stone is one of those materials that ages with grace, getting more beautiful as it absorbs the years and builds on it character.

The appeal has been further heightened with the development of modern under-floor heating systems which ensure areas finished in stone need no longer be cold to the touch.

As with any flooring, there are differing qualities and types.

Jason Cherrington, CEO and founder of Lapicida, agrees, saying, “Stone is natural, and careful selection and fastidious attention to detail is essential to achieve consistency. It is available in a wide spectrum of grades, not simply the variety name.”.

Jason relies on Lapicida’s family of stone experts to hand-pick grade “A” natural stone, with quality as their watchword, which is why this Knaresborough-based firm are now arguably the UK’s leading importer ( – 01423 400 100).

One of the other beauties of stone is that its appearance can be drastically altered by the finish. I have found clients who abhor high-gloss granite work-surfaces, but melt when they see it in a leather finish, which provides a sensual and visual treat wherever it is used.

Varieties of stone differ wildly, so here is an elementary guide to the key types:

Limestone is an organic sedimentary rock formed over millions of years from tiny shells and micro-skeletons. It has subtle tones, is hard-wearing and, historically, has been used to pave English cathedrals and, French and Italian palaces.

Grey Jerusalem Tumble Limestone
Pure limestone is white or almost white, and impurities create colours. Limestone tiles can be extremely hard-wearing, but qualities vary so you need to check carefully.

Suggested uses: Primarily internal – high-traffic areas; kitchens; bathrooms; swimming pools; conservatories.

Paonazza marble
Marble is a metamorphism of limestone. Extreme temperatures and pressures create marble, destroying any fossils and sedimentary textures present in original limestone rock.

It is renowned for its high gloss finish and colour array. It hints at luxury wherever it is laid.

Suggested uses: Primarily internal – bathrooms and showers; formal entrance halls and foyers; kitchen worktops/floors; wet rooms; hallways; living areas; conservatories.

Travertine is also a metamorphism of limestone. It is a unique, versatile and cost-effective stone. No two tiles are the same, which means there is no need to match them. Good quality Travertine can be hard-wearing in low-footfall areas such as bathrooms.

Over the past five years, there has been an increase in the use of Travertine which has meant an influx of inferior imports, so buy the best quality you can afford.

Suggested uses – internal, medium to low traffic areas such as bathrooms walls and floors; some living areas; swimming pools; conservatories.

Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed of quartz or feldspar, or both.

Incredibly versatile, it can be used indoors and out to create formal and informal rustic effects. Some sandstone is suitable for outdoor paving.

Stunning in its reclaimed state, it can be seen in stately homes throughout Britain.

Suggested uses – both external and internal – wall tiles; floor tiles; paving.

Granite is a course grained igneous rock formed from magma and is revered for its strength and hardness. It is a practical choice for high-wear-and-tear surfaces. It varies greatly in colour, from shades of pink to dark grey and black. Amazingly, the Great Pyramids of Giza are made from granite.

Suggested uses: Primarily internal – kitchens; floor tiles; wall tiles; work-surfaces.

Slate is a fine-grained metamorphic rock composed mainly of quartz and muscovite. Slate is split into slabs and split again into thin sheets.

One of its major characteristics is a very flat or riven surface and it is naturally durable and heat-resistant.

Suggested uses: Both internal and external, high-traffic areas – walls; floors; bathrooms; kitchens and utilities; conservatories; swimming pools.

Terracotta is a clay-based unglazed ceramic. Specially prepared clay is partially dried and cast, moulded, or hand-worked into the desired shape. After further drying, it is fired in a kiln covered with sand, then cooled slowly.

Terracotta tiles provide a perfect warm and hard-wearing yet inviting floor finish.

Suggested uses: Primarily internal, high-traffic areas – walls; floors; bathrooms; kitchens and utilities; conservatories.   

There are three key elements to a successful stone project. Firstly, use a reputable stone merchant who will take pride in advising you. Secondly, choose the most appropriate stone for your project. Finally, have it fitted by an appropriately experienced tiler who will know how to make the stone work brilliantly for you.

When you are investing in a product such as this, you are really laying down a finish to hand on to the next generation.

Jamie Hempsall BIID is an award-winning interior designer. Visit him at or contact him on 0800 032 1180.

This article was first published in the Yorkshire Post Saturday Magazine on 25th June 2011