Styling Your Home: Four Steps To No Rules Interior Cool

This Saturday, Dee Campling and I spent the day with 17 interior obsessives here at my home in York launching our first Styling Your Home:  Four Steps To No Rules Interior Cool.  It's a far cry from this time last year when my Saturdays were generally spent standing freezing my (rhetorical) bollocks off on the side of a football pitch being buffeted by the type of freezing wind chill you can only get in North Yorkshire unless you live in Siberia.  So how did this happen?  How did I swap the football pitch for the heady heights of my dining room presenting area?

 All set to go, shit to average technical skills honed.

All set to go, shit to average technical skills honed.

When I started posting room shots on Instagram last February, I had no idea about the interiors community that existed on there.  Before I knew it, I was chatting away to people as if I'd known them for years.  Needless to say, my family were very dubious about the whole thing and were extremely suspicious that I was talking to psychopaths.  But everyone was so interested and chatty, it was impossible not to believe that they were genuine.   When Dee mentioned on a post that she liked a print I had posted, I sent her a PDF copy and we immediately became friends.  Bonded forever by a black and white photo of Brigitte Bardot.

We quickly realised that we had loads in common.  Both of us had creative backgrounds but hadn't focused on it as a main career for some years.  Both of us wanted to get back to what we really loved doing and started to talk about ways that we could make this happen.  In July, we attended a Masterclass Day focused on dark interiors and came away from it thinking that there was a real gap in the market for a workshop that focused on defining your own personal style.  A workshop that didn't specify how you should think, or what trends you should follow, but instead made you consider what you loved and how that could be the focus of your home styling.  After bouncing several ideas off our fellow Instagram friends, Lou Watkins and Pie Creative, we came up with a plan.

 Cheltenhams answer to Bill Gates.  She's so technical.

Cheltenhams answer to Bill Gates.  She's so technical.

Over the course of the next few months we were in constant discussion mode and in October, launched our one day event via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  Words cannot describe our nervousness as we posted and waited with baited breath to see if anyone would be the faintest bit interested.  We needn't have worried.  Within three days, we had filled every space for the first date at my home on the 28 January.  Within the week we had launched a second date in Cheltenham at Dee's house on 11 March and we were flying.  

Christmas came and went and then we started panicking.  This was actually bloody happening.  In  four weeks time we would be presenting in front of a room full of people.  So Dee came to stay.  Quite a few times.  She took over our spare bedroom so often, I was tempted to get her to contribute to the Council Tax.  She stole Buddy's heart by taking him for regular walks, something he had never before experienced.  But over the course of the four weeks, we nailed it.  

 Much easier to present in front of 17 people when you  haven't drunk two bottles of red wine.

Much easier to present in front of 17 people when you  haven't drunk two bottles of red wine.

So when Dee arrived on Thursday night in preparation for Saturday's event, the obvious thing to do would be to prepare our rehearsal. Instead, we ate crisps, drank lots of red wine and went to bed at one.  Schoolboy error.  The next day we could hardly string two words together and could barely remember our own names.  But we pulled it together and were ready to go by the time everyone arrived at 10.00 am on Saturday.  

 We're onit.

We're onit.

The best thing about Instagram interiors is the fact that we all have something in common and there is nowhere this is proved more than when everyone is in a room together.  From the minute they entered my house, they were chatting away as if they'd known each other for years.  Most people knew each other via their Instagram tags and it was brilliant for them to meet everyone that previously they had only communicated with via thread.   There was the obligatory house tour (avoiding the non Instagram rooms obvs).  They all dutifully ignored the dog wee stains in Ella's bedroom and the dirty protest style hand prints up the stair walls.  Lunch was a Moroccan style buffet with homemade butter bean humus (who doesn't love a bit of Ottolenghi?) and cheeses and a perfect chance for them to socialise.  Unfortunately, there was a temporary trauma when I fried the chilli and spring onions for the salad without removing the seeds and the entire house choked on the fumes.  

 Lunch time, eyes still streaming from the chilli fumes.

Lunch time, eyes still streaming from the chilli fumes.

We were so excited about the Four Step sessions.  Our workshop tagline is that your home should be as individual as you are and the only trends that matter are the ones that you set.   We believe that your home is an expression of your personality and our aim is to help people make their spaces reflect this.  Dee and I are total interior obsessives to a point that our families are close to committing us, but our 17 delegates felt as passionate about it as we did.  And when you get a group of people together like that, they inspire and enthuse each other and before we knew it, there were ideas, plans and suggestions flying around like wildfire. The day passed too quickly and we ended with a glass (or two) of prosecco at the bar feeling like we'd known each other for years.

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One of the things that Dee and I feel really strongly about is the promotion of small Instagram businesses.  In these post Brexit times, we need to support local shops and online stores so we asked them if they wanted to send us a business card or flyer to include in a sourcing pack.  We were totally overwhelmed by their support - we received discount vouchers, small gifts and beautifully wrapped samples which far exceeded our expectations.  We would like to say a MASSIVE thank you to all of them for enabling us to give our delegates the best goodie bags ever seen outside the Oscars.

Aubeterre Blue (homewares and tableware),  Light Up North (custom made neon signs),   Curious Egg (homewares and prints),   Bag & Bones (neon art),   Donna Kelly (art prints),   Suburban Salon (stools and cushions),   Festive Lights (indoor and outdoor lighting),   Hilary & Flo (homewares),   Rockett St George (homewares),   King & McGaw (art and prints),   Grey September (homewares),   Homeplace Online (homewares and vintage),   Quirk & Rescue (prints, wallpaper and cushions),   Woodchip & Magnolia (wallpaper),   Nickie Kelly Interiors (homewares),   Violet & Thistle (homewares),   Violet & Percy (homewares),   We Are Amused (art prints),   Farrow & Ball (paint and wallpaper),   Little Greene Paint Company (paint),   Annie Sloan Home (paint),   Surface View (art and canvas),   Victoria Hall (Neals Yard).

 And relax.

And relax.

So want to know more about the day and fancy joining us next time?  We'll be in Cheltenham on 11 March and 6 May and back here in York on 1 April.  Click here to be directed to the Agenda and registration from.  And here's some feedback from the lovely people who came.

 How lovely are this bunch?

How lovely are this bunch?

'I really enjoyed just how open, honest and encouraging you both were, as well as everyone else.  I'm not always known as a people person (I prefer animals) but I was quite taken aback by how genuinely nice everyone was, which I think can be attributed to you both making everyone feel so comfortable'.  BH

'I enjoyed finding out my style from the quiz at the start of the class was very helpful to find out what I like and what I don't, and getting to meet people'.  PO

'It's always going to be difficult to pitch it right with a group of very different people with varying degrees of confidence in their own style, but personally I think the tone was just right.  Not snooty or patronising, just an open and honest share of experience and things learned along the way'.  BH

'My favourite part of the day was after lunch when everyone had relaxed and we could talk about the first half of the workshop'.  SB

'What a wonderfully inspiring day I had.  You are all amazing hosts/teachers'.  JA

With lots of thanks to everyone who came for inspiring us with their enthusiasm.  And thanks too to our amazing Instagram stores who helped share the Instagram love.