Laura Cartledge catches up with Sarah Moore, winner of the The Great Interior Design Challenge, to talk success and homespun style.
You may think interior design and homemaking is the same thing.
However Sarah Moore believes the difference between the two was key to her success and helped her to be named the winner of The Great Interior Design Challenge.
“I think you have got to consider the house. When it came to me and Jordan [Cluroe] in the final, I think what set us apart is that I was homemaking rather than interior designing,” she reveals. “Perhaps it is because I am older and have three children who can destroy anything.”
Based in Northchapel, near Petworth, Sarah’s practical approach extends to her own business – Sarah Moore Home – which she launched in 2012.
“The key thing is to have people around to help and I often rent the village hall to have space,” she says. “I am not the best sewer, I sew at the hand cranked machine to make samples then I farm out my challenge.
“I see it as nice to help other women, it is a really good community [in Northchapel] and the local women who help me all have their favourite things to make.”
Having a business already has meant Sarah has been kept busy since the BBC Two show finished filming in October.
“It was straight into Christmas, which is always the busiest time,” she admits. “The bunnies I make had been in Vogue and the advent calendars had been in magazines all over the place.”
This was probably for the best as Sarah had to keep her success in the programme a secret.
“It was fine for me but not for my children,” she laughs. “It does feel like it has been done twice and it has been interesting seeing people’s reactions.”
These have been both good and bad and when I ask if she thinks there were any “blooper moments” she refers to a yellow fireplace she put into an oriental themed dining room.
“My parents phoned and asked, if I did it again, ‘would you really have painted that fireplace that colour?’
“Well I would,” she reveals. “I don’t know what filters the cameras had on them but it wasn’t that bright.
“You have got to do stuff on the hoof, if you stick to a set plan you set yourself up to fail. My advice would be not to be afraid of it,” says Sarah. “You can paint over it – it costs but you can make bold choices and then always change them if you don’t like them.
“I love colour,” she adds. “I took a year out before I planned to go to uni and I never went. Instead I took a cookery class and it went from there but I’ve always been all about colour, whether it is getting it on plates or walls.”
Sarah spent her thirties as a chef, which included running a large kitchen in London where she did private catering for thousands of people.
Blending food with design, she also helped to develop the luxury iced biscuit company Biscuiteers and co-wrote a book with them.
Throughout her career, and during the 12 part series, Sarah has showcased her love for “getting stuck in” and it is clear home life has also influenced her get up and go attitude.
“It is so difficult to run a house and make some money – to have the oomph to go out despite the washing pile,” she agrees.
While her quirky touches during the design competition ranging from tea cup chandeliers to using patterned rollers Sarah warns there is a “fine line between craft and design”.
“You have to check yourself,” she explains. “My personal thought is that a layer of luxury needs to be added.”
So would it get competitive between the contestants in The Great Interior Design Challenge?
“In the first rounds I didn’t look at the other [designer’s] houses, I wasn’t sure what the protocol was,” she admits. “But staying in the hotels at night you could see what colour they had been painting because it was on their clothes and if someone had had a nightmare we would try and help them out.
“The programme was fantastic and it has changed my perspective and style,” says Sarah. “I am used to being in this small village in Sussex and I went to Liverpool for the final where I was allowed to let rip with thousands of pounds to buy things I’ve always liked but never been able to afford.”
Instead of following trends Sarah likes to go with her gut.
“I get a feel about stuff, I don’t tend to look a lot at what is popular, I get this image and think that would be nice,” she smiles. “The main inspiration comes from the material I find – like the Welsh blankets which I turned into fauxidermy animals.
“I really like the ecological side of things and putting old things to good use,” she adds, “but from a commercial point of view it can be hard as a lot of people just see it as being second-hand.”
The next challenge facing Sarah will be to make the most of the opportunities winning the show will bring.
“It is difficult to know how to maximise it,” she says. “I really don’t have a design background and I really am an amateur. I am happy to come up with mood boards and ideas but I don’t think I am brave enough to take on and manage a whole project.”
However there is no doubt Sarah Moore is going to be a name to watch.
With two books to her name already Sarah is now planning a third and is aiming to host workshops. For more information, visit www.sarahmoorehome.co.uk