Bournemouth interior designer Nykke Jones tells Dorset Living about her colourful background, and the journey that led her to follow her dreams

Growing up in Belfast surrounded by beautiful things, it was almost written in the stars that Nykke Jones would have a career in interior design.

The daughter of a stained glass designer and with parents who had a love for furniture and antiques, Nykke was aware from a young age that her house had rather more character than that of her friends.

But after a somewhat nomadic childhood - being of a mixed marriage, Nykke's family could not stay in Belfast, and moved several times to Southern Ireland and London, before returning to their home city - it was a job in a shoe shop that finally set her on her artistic path.

"I got through school and ended up going to college, where I did textiles," remembers Nykke, who now lives in Bournemouth.

"I ended up getting a job in a shoe shop, Cable & Co - a high end, Italian shoe shop. Something happened to the window designer and I said to the boss that I would do it. That was the start of it really, other than doing interiors stuff at home and helping out family.

"I started doing internal displays and people were saying I should do 'props' for photo shoots - I remember thinking that was interesting. From then it just went boom - I thought 'I need to be doing interior design'.

"I didn't consider it at that time, because no one offered it. To me, interior design was something people did in America - it's not like it is now."

After finishing college, Nykke and her family moved to a horse farm in Florida in 1999, but she was still set on a career in design and returned home to apply for a work visa, before getting a job as an assistant interior designer with a company in Belfast.

She describes it as "six months of heaven and hell", but it was a time when Nykke honed her skills and learnt her craft, before joining an interior design company called Skopos, where she took on commercial work for hotels.

"I was living the dream," she says. "It was amazing, I loved it. I was on course and I was determined. Getting paid a pittance, but I didn't care. I was living in a little flat in Belfast on the peace line - I used to hear gun shots in the middle of the night."

Eventually, her visa came through and she returned to Florida in her early 20s with her heart set on becoming an interior designer.

"I got a fantastic little job in a little studio called Studio 29, that was just fantastic," she says. "All the doors just opened, it was amazing. I did their first TV commercial with them, and was working on multi-million dollar homes.

"It was scary at times, but you have to have belief in yourself. The style there at the time was very different - Americans were still very traditional, so I had to get my head around it. But I was poised for it because of growing up with my parents - I have a passion for period furniture."

Nykke may have achieved success in America, but the pull of home proved too strong, and she returned to Belfast in 1995 to set up an interior design business, Bloomsbury Interiors, with her father.

"Really tough going at first, but absolutely amazing," she smiles.

"We had 2,000 square feet of a shop - downstairs was all the furniture, upstairs was the design studio. We just hit the ground running, it was amazing. Very successful and did really well - we ended up with three designers and also ended up making our own furniture, having a little off-site factory where we made all the old reclaimed pine furniture, kitchens, a lot of bespoke stuff."

The company was so successful it even made it into Marie Claire's Best of Belfast supplement, named alongside another local business as the city's "Best Interior Design Studio".

"Things went really well, we were doing great," remembers Nykke. "We had our son, Josh and, after he was born, things changed. The business was doing super well but, equally, I had a child now - I was finding it difficult being a mum and running two businesses.

"You start to re-evaluate things."

Nykke eventually decided to close the business and return to her husband's hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, to start all over again.

"It was a big decision," she admitted, "but things happen for a reason. It was just amazing - working with people's homes that were maybe second, third homes, holiday homes, multi-million dollar homes on the beach - just amazing."

Sadly Nykke and her husband decided to part ways some time later, and she left Charleston in January 2006 with four suitcases, her son and $100 in her pocket. She headed to Bournemouth, where her brother was living, for a fresh start.

She worked for a couple of local companies and even started a teaching course, before realising it was not the right path for her.

"I ended up doing some freelance work for a friend of mine, then decided I was going to start my own business again in September 2011. I've been doing it ever since - I can't believe it was seven years ago."

Nykke now works on mostly residential - and some commercial - properties in the area, to give her clients what she describes as "something beautiful".

"I enjoy every aspect of my work - whether it's a couple of rolls of wallpaper, or a client that's got a million dollars to spend. The feeling doesn't change - you're delivering something amazing to someone.

"It's a very personal thing to be an interior designer for someone. You get to be a friend, it's about being honest with them, being brave enough to say 'that's not going to work'. You get to know how they live their life."

Nykke insists she doesn't have a "signature style", preferring to create something unique for each of her clients.

"There's a thing with interiors designers - it's like they have a look," says Nykke. "I don't like to think of myself as having a look - I want to be able to go and create something individual for the client so that it's theirs - it's not mine.

"It's really satisfying especially when you do a big job and you see that gratitude on people's faces. It's a journey - it's a journey for them too, they're trusting you."

Nykke, who says she is personally "quite partial" to period homes and also loves the art deco style, says she still feels a thrill at the start of each project she undertakes.

"When you pull up outside someone's house and you meet them for the first time, no matter what it is, I get a sense of joy out of it. It's a whole new experience.

"You do get a feel for a place, but it's the house - you've got to let the house talk to you almost. The house first of all, then talking with the clients, because a lot of people don't really know what they like, but they give you clues when you start talking to them.

"But ultimately, it boils down to creating something beautiful for your customer."

Nykke Jones Interiors, Sunnyhill Road, Bournemouth

T: 07790 092291