Home decor

Jul 15

Exploring the New Forest this Summer

I recently discovered a haven of tranquillity whilst touring the Hampshire countryside. Set in the heart of the New Forest, Careys Manor Hotel and Spa boasts three superb restaurants, excellent facilities and a fantastic level of service from staff.

The elegant country house hotel and spa offers a friendly and tranquil environment, whilst being conveniently placed within an hour and a half from London and the M3 corridor only a stone’s throw away this is the perfect place for a short break. Perfect for business people like myself who travel a lot!

Careys Manor Outside Un-edited High-Res[6]

My stay began with a superb welcome and as I was travelling with my family we were taken on a guided tour so we understood what was on offer. With natural beauty as its backdrop Careys Manor is picturesque and steeped in 17th century history. It was principally used as a large hunting lodge and has hosted prestigious clientele such as Royals and Military Officials.

We were shown to one of the Oakwood Rooms, which is ideal for families such as mine of two adults and two children. The bedroom we enjoyed had a lovely outside garden which was perfect to enjoy as we were treated to great weather!

One of the most impressive factors about this hotel is the service. Every member of staff I met could not be more accommodating! Being a business woman and interior designer I tend to pick up on the attention to detail in places and here I was overwhelmed by the staff, from their presentation to manners and warm welcome.

Careys Manor - Cambium (88) (Small)[6]

Come 7.30pm we dined at Le Blaireau; what a fantastic restaurant this is. You can expect French cuisine in Hampshire, with locally sourced ingredients and the place itself is vibrant yet informal so prides itself on a relaxed atmosphere which I really like. We enjoyed the evening with fantastic steaks, fish and wines. There is also the new restaurant Cambium, serving more traditional dishes, further to the Thai restaurant set within SenSpa, so there is more than enough choice on site.

SenSpa Tepiarium Low-Res[9]

The SenSpa is an absolute must when visiting Careys Manor. The pool is incredible; beautifully lit and designed to create a unique sense of wellbeing. The spa is an authentic Thai spa with extensive 5 star facilities focusing on holistic wellness. There are some lovely treatments to take advantage of; the SenHarmony Face & Body in particular caught my eye and my daughter enjoyed a relaxing pedicure which she said was lovely! The spa products they use here rival the best, smelling absolutely amazing. SenSpa truly is a unique spa experience; a hidden gem within the New Forest. You can enjoy the finest treatments, immerse yourself in the sumptuous pool or enjoy the hydrotherapy benefits of the state of the art hydrotherapy facilities. I can see why this spa was a finalist in the World Luxury Spa Awards; even if you’re not staying in the hotel I highly recommend you pay it a visit.

SenSpa Pool Hi-res[7]

The picturesque New Forest is a part of the English countryside I love. Whenever I am travelling I look for a sanctuary I can relax in, which also provides a great setting and facilities. Close by to Careys Manor you’ll find beautiful villages offering gastro pubs, restaurants, local produce and shopping. Therefore the country house hotel and spa provides a great base to explore the beautiful area and an indulgent treat for you and your loved ones.

First class hospitality, gorgeous dining and fantastic food, my stay was unforgettable and I look forward to my return!



Mar 15

Hotel Shopping for 2015…. Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como is a must!


It finally feels like Spring/Summer is on its way which I love, so I am researching hotels in which to stay. When it comes to hotels I adore those that tell a story and offer luxury through and through. From the style to the service, there aren’t many hotels that capture my full attention but Grand Hotel Tremezzo does just that.

It is a beautiful luxury resort dating back to 1910. Grand Hotel Tremezzo is one of the oldest luxury hotels on Lake Como and for those who seek luxury during their stay; this is one of the best. The family owned hotel commands one of the most enchanting positions on Lake Como, with exquisite panoramic views of the town of Bellagio, the Riviera delle Azalle and the stunning Grigne Mountains. The hotel setting and views are simply breath taking!

The hotel is an amazing experience, not just for adults, but equally for children. From the moment I arrived, we were greeted with such friendly, efficient staff, and the children were made to feel extremely welcome. At Grand Hotel Tremezzo it’s all about the little touches and finer, elegant details which bring the whole experience to life. For the children, one of these finer details was  indeed the sweetie jar by reception which was visited frequently!!! The children particularly loved the fact that there were three separate swimming pools within this beautiful hotel resort, each offering a very different vibe and style. The floating pool on the lake in front of the private beach, boasts such a fantastic view of Lake Como that you never get tired of looking at it, and here the children loved to swim and sit on the surrounding bean bags. The garden pool bar offered great pizzas which was perfect for lunch and to enjoy in a relaxed and informal setting. During our stay we had great fun travelling across the lake on the hotel’s stylish private boat, stopping off for a nice walk and lunch in the picturesque village of Bellagio.

GHT Boat

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is an absolute favourite of mine; the hotel is architecturally beautiful throughout as it is Art Nouveau in style, mixed with its unique setting it takes a lot to beat. Every luxury that you can imagine is included and my family and I were completely spoilt for choice. At Hotel Tremezzo, nothing is too much trouble, with their customer service bypassing exceptional.

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is magnificent luxury at its very best! To see more of the hotel please look at http://www.grandhoteltremezzo.com/

Feb 15

Top tips for starting an interior design project

Embarking on any interior design project can have its difficulties and listed below are some important pointers to help if you are about to begin a project or looking at interior design as a career.

As an interior designer you need to be able to deal with a lot of different personalities; your clients may be a couple who disagree about everything in their home, you could be dealing with builders who don’t communicate very well, or suppliers that let you down. It is vital to build a good relationship with as many people as you can because if you are relying on other people, they may not have the urgency you have of getting things finished in time to meet your clients needs.

Here are my tips of important things to remember when starting a project.



Make sure you visit the property you are working on as many times as possible in the initial stages as you will need to get a feel for the property. Check how the light is at certain times of the day and also revisit once you have your fabric colour choices to make sure that they work in the lighting they are proposed for. It s all very well to choose colours in your studio or workplace but lighting plays a large part on how colours look.


It is important to give yourself plenty of time when choosing fabrics, you will need to make your colour choices and hold a few options as many times fabric houses show stock and then find out they don’t have the stock the computer originally showed. Always have two or three alternatives and always get a batch cutting from the actual batch you will be ordering from as colours can really vary so much you can sometimes end up with a completely different colour scheme.



If you are looking for chandeliers or made-to-order lamps, you will need to give yourself at least eight weeks lead time. Many companies have a range of stock lighting however if you want something really unique, you will most probably be ordering from overseas or a fabricator in UK and will need longer lead times.


If you are designing your own furniture then double check all your sizes, for instance some breakfast bar areas do vary slightly in height and you don’t want your stools to be too low to sit comfortably.  Also look at your space properly and measure and map out your furniture in advance of ordering, you don’t want to have items so large that you cannot move around the room comfortably.



It is important to look at access and this can be overlooked easily but is an essential part of   your installation check- list. If in doubt measure your doorways to make sure large furniture items will fit through, you may need to assemble some items once in the room.  Spiral staircases may cause restriction in moving some large items into their destination. I recently worked on a property that had a games room in the basement but there was only access via a spiral staircase, with no access from the exterior.  I needed to put a pool table in the room, and because I am an experienced designer, I knew how important it was to measure the curve of the staircase, revert back to our install team to see how this potential problem could be overcome.


This is essential on an installation. You need to have at least one person that you can liaise with regularly to make sure that  you are all on the same page and know what is happening and when. Also someone who can take deliveries for you in advance is always helpful when on a large project.


Finally be well organised! I am working presently on a £30 million house in London and will be ready to install the furniture and accessories in a few days. I have given myself three days to complete the task, purely down to the fact that I have spent weeks and weeks walking through each of the rooms in my mind and making sure I have not forgotten anything. If you do this you should be able to cut the time of your installation down quite significantly!

I hope these tips help you. I would’ve loved to have read them when I started out, but at least I can give you the advice I have to give from my past and very interesting experiences, Good luck!!!

‘Your Home in Their Hands’ is on Sundays at 4pm on BBC One and ‘Four Rooms’ will be on the 22nd of February on Channel 4.

Aug 14

Attention to Detail

Creating a home with attention to detail is something I pride myself on. Whether it is a project purely to furnish, or creating from the ground upwards, it is always very important to ensure comfort, peace of mind and quality of living.

A recent project of mine has some amazing attention to detail; from the fittings and fixtures to the soft furnishings of the house, my team and I ensured attention to detail from the ground up.

In the master bedroom, the individual ‘his and hers’ dressing areas have custom made Makassar ebony joinery with integrated lighting, along with oversized mirrors to create impact and the illusion of space and grandeur.

compressed Fairways1

In the guest dressing rooms there is custom made cabinetry in walnut and burr ebony which are finished in shagreen with integrated lighting. It is the attention to detail in the chosen materials that make the finish of this room immaculate. From the very moment you walk in you know this is the next level. From the grain and polish on the walnut to the way the lighting is positioned and reflects, you have to have a thorough eye to make it as a successful interior designer!

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Shower systems are key to great detailing and I love using large shower heads to evoke impact. This walk in marble shower has a rain bar and body jets for added luxury. Marble is fundamental to a luxurious feel in the bathroom and is used in many of my installations.

compressed fairways 2

When talking about attention to detail you must realise it is the little things that can make or break a room. If an item is out of place, or colour palettes slightly off, your room will not offer the synergy and style it should. In one of my recent projects furniture detailing was exquisite too, with piping in leather on the luxurious chaise, this was bespoke to complement the large armchairs I had made. Amazing wall lights, beautifully crafted fixtures and marble flooring throughout the entire ground floor of this property bring impact and opulence to the home.

Fairways compressed 3

Fairways compressed 4

Often in business and in the interior design world, the biggest problems stem from ignoring the smallest of details, so make sure you focus on everything from the ground up, no matter how insignificant it may seem in the beginning.

Jul 14

Creating a Mood Board

Mood boards are really important as they are the inspiration of your room. They act as the central foundations for you to refer to prior and during a project.   To create the perfect mood board, one that portrays exactly what you are trying to achieve and as something that is functional and helps you visualise your interior design concept. A simple way to start is to go out and buy some foam board from a stationary store, such as Staples, which can be A3 or A1 in either white or black. I quite like using black boards at the moment to give me a stronger look and creates fabulous impact. Look for images from interior design magazines, but equally fashion magazines for your inspiration. Interior design is a lot like fashion as clothes can represent furniture; for instance a black leather jacket with a silver zip could be a beautiful leather chair with chrome or studded legs. Celia Moodboard 02

Mood boards are to detail every facet of the room so you will also need to find images of moods and ACTUAL items you would like to use. I like finding a “mood” first and then add detail once I know which direction the theme is going in.  For instance, if you live by the sea and you want a beach feel in your living room, start by looking for a lovely room images by the sea and with the look and feel you are working to create. Don’t be frightened to grab a few different images, as you can mix ideas to create your own individual room. Look for some natural textures and accessories to reflect the theme you are aiming for. Fabrics should be added to your mood board, remember to mix your textures and start with your flooring as this is a large plane of the room, and bring your colours and textures together to see how they work in context. You can add images of lampshades, unique items of furniture, throws, chairs, or even just quirky shapes and patterns that attract your attention as these will play a significant role in the overall look you are trying to create. Do not forget to include any lighting ideas, as this is key to creating mood in any room. Play around with small fabric samples, but don’t glue anything to the board until you feel happy with the selection you have put together!!

Celia Moodboard 03

I recommend having one board for each room. Revisit them over a period of days as you will start to see different things with fresh eyes. I personally keep my mood boards out on display from the beginning so that I can keep looking at them – you’ll be surprised what you notice or wish to change from taking time over them.   Words can fail when trying to describe design concepts and it doesn’t need to be difficult so a mood board is the perfect medium to showcase your ideas. Get creative this week and give it a go!

Celia Moodboard 01

May 14

Choosing Your Accent Colour

Accent colours form an important part of my interior design schemes. I often advise the simplest way to create a harmonious scheme is by staying neutral but livening up the neutral or monochrome tones with a bright, strong accent colour. By juxtaposing against the neutral canvas you will create a star-piece in a room, especially if its one specific item of furniture created in your chosen accent colour.


Below: A recent London mansion I designed. The accent colour is Ox Blood and is incredibly striking against the neutral elements of the headboard, bedside tables and other contrasting features.

Another example of this can be found in this central London luxury home. See how the accent colour is not only used on the chaise, but runs through the scheme with cushions and coffee table accessories.


Similarly, lime green has been worked through this modern kitchen (below). Take note of the colourful chairs and accessories, contrasting against the white and grey kitchen.


Purples and aubergines are two of my favourite accent colours; I use specific hues in my schemes as much as possible. In this family TV room I offset the purple chairs with artwork and objet d’art that complement the purple accent colour of choice. The purple chairs really stand out against the cream walls and carpet, giving the room that colour burst it needs!

photo 3-3

An example of getting the look with accessories can be found here;  This great velvet cushion by Zara Home comes in many colours to suit anyone’s scheme.

Celia Sawyer x

Twitter – @CeliaSawyerTV

Website – www.CeliaSawyer.com

Apr 14

The Importance of Great Lighting

A key element in interior design is lighting. It is one of the most important factors not to skimp on as it is essential to creating ambience and depth in a room. Great lighting can be used in many ways, and should be layered to suit your needs. If you have features in your room you wish to stand out and display, or areas you wish to highlight, position recessed ceiling spotlights to enhance these.

An amazing chandelier will give your room the “wow” factor and could be the star feature of your room. Table and floor lamps will add that extra warmth and dimension to your room, but also with so many beautiful lamps available now, can become a sculpture in themselves.

Practical lighting is also important, if you need an area to read, or work, then you need to plan this accordingly and in the first wave of your lighting design.

 I always use dimmer 5 amp systems these days so that throughout the day as the light changes outside, I can adjust the room lighting to suit the required mood. Think of lighting a little like adding a jacket (your wall lights) to your everyday dress (your practical lighting), and then adding jewellery and great shoes, (structural and feature lighting such as positioned spots and table lamps) and if you have the courage, an amazing hat (your star piece chandelier in the centre of your room)!


See how this pool area has ambient star lighting to create theatre whilst swimming


This living room has a light coffer to house an LED strip for a soft, warm effect.


Add beautiful wall lights to throw light onto the walls to create another layer

These great Ring light chandeliers really make a feature of this dining room. Like beautiful elegant pieces of jewellery, I love the way as the light changes, their shape reflects onto the ceiling.


Get the look for less!

BHS do some great lights, have a look at this fab pendant light for a glamorous effect  http://www.bhs.co.uk/en/bhuk/product/home-lighting-furniture-2565866/ceiling-lights-2809354/smoke-gabriella-pendant-1075878?bi=1&ps=40

 Remember to follow me on Twitter on @CeliaSawyerTV.


Apr 14

Celia Sawyer talks Grand Design Live and much more with Kevin McCloud

Hello everyone!

I was very excited to interview television presenter, writer and designer Kevin McCloud, especially as he has had such a varied career! We talked design, his housing project Hab Housing and of course Grand Designs Live!

Kevin McCloud Grand Designs Live London

Grand Designs Live is now in its 10th year, what do you think makes it so successful and keeps it returning year on year?

I’m excited about the exhibition, particularly in the amount of new and smaller exhibitors, as well as the larger brands of course it’s important we have everybody; the show is large enough to accommodate everyone, which is what I like.

Is there something new we can expect this year that you’re really excited by?

In addition we’ve got the all-new tech box, which takes a look at sustainable technology so I’m excited about that this year.

What’s your favourite item at the show overall?

My favourite item… with over 500 exhibitors it’s quite hard to pick! I never tell people what my favourite item is as that would hack the other ones off ha!

We’ve heard you’re going to be helping cook in the Live Kitchen Experience, what will you be dishing up? Do you enjoy cooking at home?

There’s a wonderful man called Nigel Smith who for years has helped me and to be fair has taught me to cook at Grand Designs Live. Overall I’m hopeless in the kitchen but I deliberately turn up hoping to cause havoc in the kitchen as I just can’t cook – what I can do is get in the way! Miele are one of our big sponsors and they are great running this really successful live cooking demonstration.

Staying on the subject of food, what’s your favourite kind of food?

I love Italian food, the way it’s cooked and the whole ethos of Italian cooking. I just love the way Italians cook food.

What’s your opinion on going green and eco builds? Do you think there’s enough scope to make eco homes as aesthetic as others or do people have a tougher job going down the eco route? Are you a fan of eco?

An Eco home can look like a 16th century cottage or it can look like a modeled glass walled beautiful building. Making a home ecological, environmentally friendly and low energy is about how you build it not what it looks like. To make a home low energy is how you build it from the inside and what makes it efficient.

 Grand Designs Live Birmingham - NEC Birmingham, Friday 4 October 1

There’s often a new innovation or technology, has anything in the market place particular caught your eye lately?

What you should remember is for every damaging material there’s the equivalent low impact one. In my business Hab Housing we set out to build and we do build houses which are more beautiful, with windows, more space, nicer kitchens,  offering more natural light than your average developer-built house, as a result we sell our houses four times faster – and they are Eco homes!

If you have a choice to have your energy bills reduced, giving you more money for holidays or whatever it may be, drinking beer, it’s a great thing!

Discussing the show, do you have an all time favourite Grand Designs project? Maybe you even wanted to live there!

Well there are actually several I really like, so it’s hard to pick one favourite. For years I used to say the Ben Law house, where he grew his house out of the woods in Sussex, he grew it out of the woods he owned, almost out of the trees, so this really stood out to me, I always felt it was the most beautiful, romantic, poetic show we’d ever made.

For me it’s about the houses that grab me by the heart. Something that’s so magical, they are my favourite.


On the lines of TV… do you watch Four Rooms that I feature on? Do you watch any other makeover shows as I’m going to judge on a new BBC1 prime time show!

I have seen Four Rooms! I like it, and actually the executive producer of that show is my old producer.

What are your thoughts on home make over shows? Celia is about to start filming a new one for the BBC.

Great I will look out for it. I’m sure it’ll be better than the make over shows of the 90s!

See Kevin at Grand Designs Live on 3-11 May at London ExCel – www.granddesignslive.com

Make sure you follow Celia on Twitter on @CeliaSawyerTV and visit her website www.celiasawyer.com for further information.

Mar 14

Behind the scenes of an interior design project

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The build-up to project installations is always a very busy but exciting time. I always plan everything down to the last mm, so that when the big day arrives everything runs as smoothly as possible.

As I mentioned last time, I’ve been working on a residence in London and the installation is now well under way!! This is where the fun starts; all the bespoke furniture which has been planned and designed for this particular property is now about to arrive on site. I will be directing each delivery into the right room and working with my team to unwrap the beautiful items – I simply can’t wait to put everything in place!

There is always a certain amount of anticipation before an installation, due to the fact that a large part of interior design is an organic process and not everything can be planned off-site. The way a room changes on each layer installed creates a different feeling and atmosphere in the property at the time, so this is something to be aware of.

This particular house is over 17,000 square feet, so I have a lot of room to play with.  The majority of the furniture is designed by myself, hand crafted in the UK by skilled craftsmen. I’ve worked closely with the architect to ensure symmetry and synergy in each room. Custom made, luxurious fabrics and finishes have been chosen to suit the property’s style, in addition to custom made furniture, often from bespoke suppliers I work with in Italy. It’s really coming to life and looks fantastic I have to say!

The very first day of installation is always extremely rushed. I have a team of people I work with that assist throughout. Various important tasks need to happen such as drafting a map of the property’s interior so those arriving know exactly where to place each item on arrival. The framing of images, arranging of flowers, dressing beds, setting of tables and people putting up specialist items such as heavy mirrors and artwork are all fundamental to the smooth running of any project. I find it’s often the little things that count so everything from cleaning, to washing glass wear and changing plugs all add to the overall experience and installation. These are each very important jobs whilst on site, not to be forgotten!

My main tip for installations is to not work out everything off site. Instead, have enough visits to ensure your items will fit and work in the spaces required. Look at the property at different times of the day so that you can see how the light works for or against you; you’d be surprised how much colours can change from morning to evening. Too many interior designers forget this so I recommend getting to know the property you’re working on as much as possible prior to the installation date.

The next few days are critical to completing this project, so it’s back to work for me! Hope you’ve enjoyed learning about behind the scenes. See you next time…


Get the look:

Celia’s recommended stockists this week….

 Zara at Home

   Table Wear

      You can enjoy luxury for less with this modern, white china set. Prices from 19.99


 Zara at Home

Art Deco, Decorative Glass Bowl £39.99


Tree Locate

As many of you know I absolutely love using faux-flowers. This may not be the traditional option over real flowers, but you can purchase such realistic ones nowadays and unlike real ones not have to worry about the look being lost with them dying. Faux-flowers are amazing and I use a lot of white orchids and amaryllis to bring rooms to life. I love placing them in large bevelled vases to add a touch of glamour and style – perfect for sideboards I have to say!

One of the companies I work closely with it Tree Locate, who are always on-hand with new designs to suit my work. They stock a variety of planters in all the colours you need.


I hope you like my suggestions this week, if you have any questions tweet me @CeliaSawyerTV

Feb 14

A day in the life of Celia Sawyer…

It’s a really exciting time at Celia Sawyer Headquarters. We are in the final stages of a development project, which is a £26 million property off Bishop’s Avenue in London. It’s been a fantastic exploration of architecture, fabrics and interior design. I have used a lot of bespoke furniture such as tailored chairs and sofas, antique mirrored bedside tables and hand-made headboards, specifically created for my Cool 10 furniture range. They are gorgeous and really add that WOW factor!


As you know I’m really into my lighting so I’ve had some beautiful lights from Italy supplied for this project by Trudie who looks after me at The Lighting House (www.thelightinghouse.co.uk) For this particular house I used the stunning Estadio lights, which you can see below.


The Fairways project has focused around lots of crystals, mirrors, lacquered woods, luxurious leathers and silver objets-dart to add glamour and style throughout. We are in our final two weeks and I simply cannot wait to see it all come together and be unveiled to the world!

It’s also been a busy couple of weeks juggling my home life. Due to half-term my two children were off school so we spent a few days taking time out, walking in Dartmouth and enjoying the countryside. I love being with my children, cooking for them, and helping them with homework, so I’ve understood the meaning of being a ‘working mum’ more than ever this last week – juggling family life, work deadlines, keeping fit and all the housework too!

I take my hat off to all working mum’s out there!

When working from my south coast studio I find the sea air and beach views can really inspire me on some of my projects. There is a local seafood restaurant called WestBeach (www.west-beach.co.uk) which I use for my client meetings. It’s a discrete venue so it’s perfect for entertaining high-profile and high-net worth clients to discuss their interior design plans and projects we are working on together. The food, ambience and staff are excellent at WestBeach, which is important for me!

Today, I am meeting a couple brand reps who want to present new collections to me. It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and set them so I love finding out before anyone else what’s coming through for Spring/Summer. I’ve got some exciting PR meetings this week and a visit to a very well known jewellery factory coming up as I have decided to launch my very own jewellery range this year! It is something I have always wanted to do and it will be a reflection of the interior design range; a mix of textures and an element of “cool”. Because of my busy days with the children, keeping on top of my fitness and all the projects I have going on it’s a good job I have Skinade (www.skinade.com) by my side to keep my skin glowing and healthy.

As you can tell it never stops for me in the interior design world but I love what I do and wouldn’t have it any other way. Watch this space for announcements on my jewellery range, you never know what tomorrow can bring… See you in a couple of weeks!

Celia xxx



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