Anna is an interior designer based in Manchester, UK. She is the founder and editor of her blog, Don’t Cramp My Style, where she discusses interior design, fashion and beauty.
In this question and answer interview, Anna speaks to Bright Goods’ Marketing Executive, Sophia, on the latest trends in interior design, her own design creations, awards and of course, her blog, Don’t Cramp My Style.
How did you get into interior design?
I always felt something wasn’t right around me. I had the very bad urge to keep changing things, and it started when I was a little girl. I was swapping rooms with my brother few times a month so I could re-decorate and set everything again. When I came across a college course ‘Interior Design’ I instantly knew- this is me! I applied. In my interview, girls arrived with huge portfolios and I was holding only a book from Abigail Ahern, ‘A Girls Guide to Interiors’. I didn’t take any previous art classes. I finished college with flying colours receiving distinction in most of my modules. I had amazing support from both of my tutors and they encourage me to apply to University, so I applied to Uclan, in Preston. I was really scared I may not be accepted or massively fail but University was one of the most amazing part of my life. My most memorable moments are, when I went to China as a Student Ambassador and we made a fantastic collaborative project there and when I was interviewed by Phil Trow at BBC Radio about my Degree Project! I graduated 2 years ago with a First Class Honours Degree and now I work as an Workplace Consultant and I design amazing offices in Manchester.
What is the most ambitious project that you have designed?
I think all the projects I have worked on have been fantastic and creative. At work, I mostly design spaces for great companies who really care about their staff and want to improve their work well-being by giving them a workspace that will both improve their communications internally and the feel to be inspired to work. I think I really enjoyed our latest office design for RentalCars.com but also enjoyed designing spaces for Booking.com and for ao.com. We also designed Gary Neville’s apartment – I loved this project!
What made you start your blog, Don’t Cramp My Style?
I used to blog when I was teenager. Back then, it was just a girly chit chat but I always loved writing. I was even writing articles in the Women section in my local newspaper. At work, I do lots of research on products, lighting and creative spaces and I was coming across great products, websites etc. and one day I decided to create my own online database, plus the opportunity to express my opinion about interiors was just stronger, so I have started the blog.
How did you come up with the name, Don’t Cramp My Style?
Originally, I started the blog under the name ‘yay or nay interiors’ but I felt it was more like a business name, and I wanted to go away from this commercialised side. I just wanted to be a simple girl, with a blog. I am also interested in Fashion and Beauty and like to write about my cats, and it was odd to publish a post under an interior name with a guide to healthy cat feeding. The name, Don’t Cramp My Style, was something I heard last year when visiting Majorca. My friend used this expression for a dance style to someone and I just loved it. It stuck in my head and when I decided to rebrand my blog, it was the first thing that came to my head. Don’t cramp my style – can be any style, style in interior, or fashion etc. and it really express me. It’s very assertive – just like me. I like to stand for what I love and share my passion. I have my own unique style in design and even at university my work was always different to others.
Your blog covers everything on trend from interiors to beauty – how do you find inspiration?
I am not an expert in beauty or fashion. I love shoes and handbags, just like most girls. I often find interesting products, or like to share what I wore or inspire others, same with beauty. I am a 32 year old and I like to share my secret of looking young haha! I love trying new products as well and being a product tester – you can honestly review them for others. I also, like to play with how colours work together with patterns and textures. I follow many great brands like Chanel or Burberry. I like to watch fashions shows, even if I can’t attend, I will watch online, e.g. the latest London Fashion Week from Burberry SS16. I think my aesthetical approach to design helps as well.
If you could pick an interior design trend from the past that you would like to see back in fashion, what would it be?
They all come back, sooner or later. I have talked about trends in my post here. Last year there was a huge thing for copper and pinks and I wish this trend could come back for autumn now, especially metallic as they so autumn colours! I love how the colours work together and you mix and match literally any metallic with reds, oranges pinks etc.
Currently, what is your favourite interior design style?
I am all about industrial style. I have a thing for concrete and brick walls. I don’t know what it is, but I would just surround myself with raw walls and delicate splash of colours. I really like Scandinavian style as well, although it is great for Instagram, I wouldn’t design my home in this monochrome perfection. It wouldn’t be me. It’s too clean and too neat. I like to have something unique at home that really express me, rather than the same vase, bed and lampshade like 1000 others. I adore amazing homes in eclectic style as well.
Tell me more about the awards that you have won…
I was very lucky and incredibly grateful to have been nominated for some awards. There are 3 types of awards in my life – my blog awards, my personal awards and my work awards.
Firstly, I will start with my educational awards. In college I was awarded ‘Student of the Month’ which really boosted my motivation, so when I went to University I was more focused and determined as I knew I can do it. I was runner up in ‘The Young Designer Awards’ and then I was shortlisted for ‘Creative Focus Awards 2013’ and on my graduation day, I was awarded ‘The Dean’s Award’ for my contribution to interior design. It was the best month ever.
At work, last year we won ‘Mixology Award’ for best Commercial Interior Project and I was very happy that I had my small contribution to the project. I have helped designing some rooms, including the 4th floor bar inspired meeting room, which is very masculine and dark, but also the Spa room – I helped with choosing the fabrics. It was the first project I actually worked on since graduation.
My first blog recognition I have received, was from Next.co.uk NBN Network as ‘Blogger of the Month’ in January. It was such a surprise and this gave me an incredible boost and motivation to continue writing about the things I love.
Most recently, I was shortlisted for ‘Best Newcomer’ by The Amara Interior Blog Awards and panel of judges will choose the winner next month at the gala awards located at the stunning Ham Yard Theatre and Dive Bar.
Awards are fun and great to boost confidence, but I try to focus on the quality of work and content on my blog. Awards are great, and I like to take part in them, but it’s not my life achievement to win them all. I would rather have more positive comments on my blog and see people really enjoy what I do. It is the same with my work – we do our best to satisfy our clients and seeing their happy faces when they enter the space we designed, is more satisfying than any award ever.
What is your favourite interior lighting style and lighting product?
Same as interior style, I love industrial and when I am looking for products, I always check the lighting section first. For me if a website doesn’t have a good selection of lighting products then I am kind of put off straight away and less likely to check the rest. Lighting is so important. This is the main thing in our projects as well. Bad lighting can not only make even the most creative scheme look dull but also can really affect moods. Quality of light bulbs are also important. I think every designer needs to focus on these. It always makes me laugh when I see a fantastic open lamp shade with a really bad light bulb. This is so important and easy to forget, especially when we work with open shades. My favourite is the Florence light bulb. It reminds me of a golden compass mystery with this very elegant finish. I think this would look stunning with cage style pendants like this one by Houzz or heavier open pendants like this from Andy Thornton.
What can we look forward to reading on Don’t Cramp My Style Blog this winter?
I think definitely loads of cosy inspirations for home in prices that everyone can afford, definitely more DIY for rented spaces and I want to add little more for my Fashion ‘What I wore’ type of posts. Also, I want to start a series of homemade cosmetics in beauty category.
There are also a few surprises and giveaways in next few months I don’t really want to reveal now but keep on eye on blog to find out!
Thank you Anna – we wish you the best of luck with the Amara Interior Awards and look forward to your next blog post with us.
Be in the know with the latest interior and fashion advice by subscribing to Don’t Cramp My Style Blog. You can also catch Anna on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Thank you to Anna for supplying the photographs.