Designer Nykke Jones talks Living through her latest project, a showhouse in Sandbanks

Q: How did the partnership/project with Amirez Developments come about?

A: I was contacted by Dimitri with the furniture company MY Furniture, based in Nottingham. He had a marketing idea that he wanted to run past me. ‘’How would I like to design and stage a showhouse using his furniture collections?’, and he would lend it to me for free! The only stipulation was, I had to let him take photos of the property for marketing, print and social media purposes. And have a big open day. It was a no brainer!

I had seen a couple of posts on Facebook and Instagram from a local company developer “Amirez Developments” and decided to contact Shan the Director to ask if he had a show house in need of dressing. As it would happen the last of their stunning 5 house development in Minterne Road was complete and they were looking to dress it for sale. The timing was sheer perfection!

Q: What was the brief for Ceres?

A: Ceres simply needed furniture, and lots of it, it’s a big house. I wanted to fill it with contemporary pieces, and lots of lush soft furnishings. It needed warmth, colour and character. I wanted to create a home.

Q: What were your first thoughts about the design?

A: It's stunning. Three storeys of striking angles, and imposing architectural features. Typically modern for the area, with a nod to that California hilltop facade. The property is surrounded and almost hugged by trees, tall, tall trees, and it’s just beautiful.

Upon first inspection inside the property; which at this stage was already done as far as the finishes were concerned. It was essentially a blank canvas. Ready to go!

Instantly your attention is brought to a generous sweeping staircase that winds up the three floors to the master bedroom, which bestows the best sea views. Rain, hail or shine, the views are wonderful, in any kind of weather.

I knew I wanted to add colour. I didn’t want to be safe. I wanted to create a space that said, ‘this is a happy joyous place’.

Q: How did you choose the colours which would work best in the development?

A: I took my initial inspiration from the actual house. The style, and architectural features said a hint of art deco, coupled with 1950s retro. The trees outside, the colours of the leaves, and bark, the sea in the distance. The changing colours of the sky. A house talks to you if you listen.

All the surfaces were perfect shades of grey, which was the ideal backdrop for my colour scheme, which quickly became Peacock Blue, Blush Pink, Navy Blue, Moody Grey, and Mustard Yellow. They don’t sound like they’d work, but they really did. I wanted to stay away from just grey.

Q: How did you achieve a flow/sense of cohesion from room to room?

A: I believe the colour scheme in a home should marry in with each other from room to room. Each should in some way, connect to the other. That way the house flows, and there’s unity in the design. Each room compliments the other without being the same. It’s a pleasant transition from space to space. It's calming and comforting. It brings it all altogether.

Q: What were the main features which used to “ground” the design?

A: Even with a big grown up serious property such as this, I wanted the design to be joyous, happy, fun even. And to ground it I had to ensure the theme of the furniture, along with all the colours, were working together as one. So I added deco style pieces, and retro 50s pieces together. This included the use of materials, so lots of silk and velvet were used in the fabrics. They're both very tactile materials, you can’t help but reach out and touch them, especially the velvet which has seen a massive revival. One can’t help but caress the fabric pile. It’s so warm to the touch and ever so relaxing and sumptuous.

I like the idea that an interior can stimulate all your senses. The visual, the touch, the sounds, the smell and taste. All this should be home. Instantly recognisable and safe.

Q: What finishing touches did you use to pull the scheme together?

A: It's one thing to introduce a beautiful selection of furniture to a space, it’s another tying it altogether to make it pop and come alive. This is simply done by adding all the little elements that create a home. Personality. Character. Whilst it’s often difficult to do this in a showhouse, as there are no personal items as such, one can still achieve this by cleverly adding lots of accessories that bring the design together.

Cushions, artwork, books, candles, treasured pieces from your travels, antiques, recycled items, upcycled items.

I added what seemed like a ton of cushions to the sofas. They brought together the colour scheme in the big family room on the first floor perfectly. Resting with pride position on the plush grey modern chesterfield style sofas are the most gorgeous, big feather filled, flame stitch design cushions in cut velvet. The base colour is black with blades of teal, yellow, orange, pink, and turquoise. Grouped with soft velvet peacock blue cushions, and the rectangular accent cushion is mustard yellow.

These simple cushions bring all the colours of the room together in one hit. The large area rug is awash with all the colours. like a painting. and sitting all alone by the window is the grooviest, big bright mustard yellow chair, that says ‘’yes I'm the statement piece’’ ‘’aren’t I fabulous!’’ On the far side of the room there’s a big, beaten-up, washed grey oak dining table, teamed with funky 1950s style dining chairs in soft teal velvet. Silk yellow cushions adorns the side chairs, and all siting pretty on a rug that is like a beautiful piece of abstract art.

Speaking of artwork, I was so lucky to find all the artwork through friend of mine. Inga Street, a local abstract artist. I asked her if she’d like to showcase some of her art at the showhouse, and she happily agreed. Upon visiting her studio, I couldn’t believe it. Most of her artwork complimented the interior design both in colours and in content. It was amazing! It was like I’d decorated the house specifically around her work. So serendipitous!!
We promptly found homes for the artwork in all the rooms, and it looks fantastic!


Q: What are your favourite pieces of the project?

A: Difficult to pinpoint any one piece that’s my favourite, however, I do love the kitchen dining area. The big beaten-up grey oak table works so well with the 50s velvet chairs, it shouldn’t…but it does. And I like that. Mismatched pieces. I don’t like ‘matchy matchy’.

I don’t want anything I do to look like something out of a catalogue.

What’s the point of a showhouse? To sell it of course. But in the process, by dressing and staging the property to look and feel like a home, visitors can glean some inspiration of their own. And ultimately go away and think about their own interior design ideas.