Spotlight on: Julie Paul - OKA Europe
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  • Spotlight on: Julie Paul

    We've just found out that OKA is now an Industry Partner of the British Institute of Interior Design, and to say we're thrilled would be an understatement. It’s an honour to be approved by industry experts, who seek out the best interior designers in the UK. Since our design service launched in 2010, we’ve worked on a number of fabulous projects that have taken us to wonderful homes around the globe. With this in mind, we thought we’d grab a few minutes for a quick chat with Julie Paul, the Head of Interior Design at OKA, to find out what inspires her.


    Julie Paul


    Have you always been interested in interior design?

    Yes, I have. Anything to do with buildings really, I used to drag my parents round showhomes and antique shops from an early age. It may sound strange, but that was my idea of a great day out! I think the fact that my father was an upholsterer definitely had an influence on me. We would often help at his workshop in the school holidays by making buttons or sweeping up. We were his little apprentices and I quite enjoyed it. 


    How would you describe your personal interiors style?

    Classic but eclectic. I love mixing lots of different textures within one room and pairing new furniture pieces with old - I think that’s how pieces look best.


    Do you have any rules that you follow?

    Keep light switches and plug sockets low and hidden; don’t have them at eye height as that’s the first thing people see. Also (and this is probably the most important thing), if something doesn’t work, admit it and try a new solution. You can waste hours trying to make your idea come to life when it will never look the same as how you imagined.


    What are some of the common design mistakes made by homeowners?

    People tend to try to make everything match; the same colour, the same pattern, the same style. Interior Design is deeper than that; you need to look at the space you are working with and it is important to build the scheme in layers. Items should complement, not match.


    What inspires you in your projects?

    Mainly, it’s the people you’re working for that inspire you. I love meeting new people from all different cultures. I’m also inspired by the aesthetics of the building; the way the light falls throughout the course of the day, the space itself and the architecture. Each project is so different.


    House in Switzerland  House in Switzerland Dining Room


    What would you suggest for someone who wants to redecorate but has a limited budget?

    Firstly, I’d say you should call OKA to see if we can help, as you might not need to change the bigger pieces of furniture. It’s very easy to change your room by updating the smaller pieces such as cushions, curtains, lamps and mirrors. Bigger pieces can always be stripped and repainted to suit your new scheme, and then replaced later down the line when you have a bigger budget. The main things you need are time, ability and creativity (but you do need a little bit of money too).


    What key piece do you think all homes should have?

    Apart from the obvious pieces of furniture, it has to be great art and plenty of photographs. They really help to add personality to a room.


    Which is your favourite room in the house to design?

    It has to be the sitting room. It’s the biggest space to work with and you have the ability to section the room into areas that perform different functions, depending on what the client needs.


    What is your favourite colour scheme?

    I prefer working with a neutral base – walls, upholstery, floors – and then building upon it with coloured accessories, like cushions, rugs and lampshades. That way, it’s simple to alter if you fancy a change.


    What’s the biggest challenge you’ve come up against in one of your projects?

    It has to be when I was installing a chalet up a mountain on my own. Everyone else working on the project was stuck because of the snow, so it was left to just me and the lorry driver. Luckily, it all turned out ok and the clients were delighted.


    The Interior Design team are based at Chelsea, with satellite offices at Froxfield, Broadway, Edinburgh and Harrogate. If you would like to discuss an upcoming design project (large or small), call us on 0844 8261334 or email to book a free consultation.

    Also on the blog: Julie shares her cushion arranging tips with us.