A Beaconsfield interior designer on how her family, period properties and seeing a project through all play a key role in her business today
By Carla Chases
As a daughter of two designers I was born and bred into design. My mother is a very successful interior designer and set up her first design studio in the front room of our house. She soon moved to a dedicated studio and then interiors boutique in Old Amersham [Su Chases] and has never looked back. She has the most incredible design studio and showroom and if you haven’t been then you are missing a treat. My father was a very successful set designer in television. Two such different forms of design and principles, but both so wonderful in their own way. From fabric samples to prop houses, live sets and real-life model making. It was a pretty inspirational childhood.
I launched Carla Designs about 13 years ago. I wanted to offer clients a full design service, it was never just about advising on the finishing touches. We wanted to get involved at the initial build stage as it’s the perfect opportunity as interior designers to be able to implement those all important internal features and details that will ultimately make the space the best it can be. Giving the space good bones and architectural features, skirting, architrave, light features, decent staircases etc is imperative for the best result. We want to advise on and execute the designs on every element throughout the build stage, from conception to completion, and I am thrilled to say that this is now where we have found our niche. Interior architecture is one of our fortes and I’m thrilled it paid off. We now oversee large scale projects and it is really where I shine the brightest.
When people became excited about my work, I realised it was a good choice. Being hand-picked by someone to help them design their home is always such an honour and I feel lucky every day to be able to do what I do. It is that relationship and trust between the client and a designer that makes this job so rewarding.
In the early days of the business,the scale and calibre of the projects were much smaller than what we are used to now, but we have always specialised in the higher end of the residential market. I think as we’ve grown our work has become far better and technical and this is indicative of this digital world we now live in. Interior design and the way we work has changed drastically over the years and I’m constantly having to learn methods of software just to keep up as we all are.
When looking at a project, the first thing to determine is space: what is the space we are working with, how do we want to use the space moving forward and how can we make it look the best it can look, what unique features can we introduce etc. We then look at the light elements available, natural and artificial, the restrictions, the possibilities, how can we soften or highlight. Colour, ambience and texture are the final layers to design. While thinking of each separate component, we must also think of them all alongside each other. That is how cohesive design works.
I am also keen on restoring buildings – honestly I don’t know, I think I must be mad! For me, many houses these days just aren’t built how they used to be. The history and period features found in some buildings is just breath-taking, and how wonderful to be able to breathe new life and style into spaces with already such beautiful bones. It’s not just about restoring, it’s also about creating entirely new spaces within the original footprint of homes making them work again as family homes for the next 100 years. It is the creation of a new identity that is always special.
My fondest restoration will always be my own and it was the first house I have bought. I bought the property at auction and it was in an utter state. It went from being the scariest property on the road to the most beautiful and it was through that journey that I really found my passion for the construction side of design. By shifting a few elements you could create something so usable and aesthetically pleasing. It seemed liked an obvious jigsaw and it comes naturally to me.
We have been in Beaconsfield for a few years now, although it only feels like yesterday when we moved here. My son started school last September, so we made the move with that in mind. There so much to love about the area, particularly Beaconsfield High Street, which has again been voted the best in the country as well the countryside. We have some great places to eat, some lovely shops, and a beautiful old town and most importantly a really good bunch of people. I grew up in Old Amersham so it feels a bit like coming home.