An Interview with Naomi Cleaver

An Interview with Naomi Cleaver

Naomi Cleaver has been a familiar face on our screens for many years now. We have seen her presenting programmes such as Grand Design’s Trade Secrets (Ch4 ), Other People’s Houses (Ch4), Britain’s Best Home (Ch4), Honey I Ruined The House (Ch4) and The World’s Greatest Dishes (Sky 1).

I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Naomi to talk about her love for the South West and her fantastic Master Classes in design, which have taken the country by storm.

“Aside from your broadcasting, you also run an extremely successful Interior Design company, you’ve published your first book, “The Joy of Home” and have even launched a nationwide series of one day design courses.  What gave you the idea of setting up these courses?”

“Making the kind of TV shows I have made is a variation on teaching really. People began to ask me if I ran design courses and as I really like working one on one with people and believe that we are all designers it all seemed to make sense. The courses are a great way to help people develop confidence in their own ideas for their homes, give an insight into what the process of interior design is really all about and how to avoid expensive mistakes.”

“After leaving your life in London behind, you enjoyed a brief sabbatical in your holiday home on the Caribbean Island of Nevis.  It was here that you wrote your first book “The Joy of Home”.  Can we expect to see another book on our shelves written by you in the near future?”

“Hopefully. I’m working on two book projects at the moment but work keeps getting in the way!”

“Your return to the UK saw you settle down here in Devon.  What made you decide to head to the South West rather than return to your former life in London?”

“After living on a Caribbean island like Nevis you become accustomed to living surrounded by trees and green, by the sound of cockerels in the morning and cattle wandering around, by being close to the sea. My family are from the South West, mostly Wiltshire, where my maternal grandparents were dairy farmers and had a grocery shop in Bradford upon Avon, and Dorset, where my great uncle Charlie was station master of what was then Abbotsbury station, so I feel very at home in the area and absolutely love it. Devon really is heaven!”

“Do you find a difference in what you’re Devon clients prefer in terms of design compared to those in London?  Do they tend to play it a little safer with colour and pattern design?”

“All of my clients are keen to create imaginative, deeply comfortable spaces and highly value the way good interior design can create really satisfying homes for years to come.”

“Going back to your Interior Design courses… These Master Classes seem to be an ideal way of teaching those who either want to redesign their own home or those considering training to be a professional interior designer.  I understand that you studied Three Dimensional Design at Willesdon College and Kingston.  Was Interior Design something that always interested you even whilst studying?  Or was it a natural progression within your working career?”

“I left home at 17 with no idea of what I wanted to do. One of the jobs I did do though was being an extra in pop videos and I found the art department really interesting. At the same time I was struggling to make tiny, mouldy bedsits habitable and, I guess combined with the fact we moved house as a family about 13 times, I became fascinated by the kind of relationships we can have with space and how we can make space make us feel better.”

“Combe House is a fantastic venue to hold your Master Classes.  The relaxed country house and surrounding countryside lends itself to your student’s creativity.  Do you draw inspiration for your own design work from our Devon surroundings?”

“Without a doubt. Nature features heavily in my work, from colour palettes to materials and even attitude – kindness to nature is at the forefront of all I do – and the palettes and crafts indigenous to Devon are a rich seam of ideas. One of the many ideas on my list is to design a range of furniture using exclusively Devon crafts. One day!”

“Do you yourself have a particular style you like to follow within your own home or does it change depending on new trends and ideas?”

“Style is just one aspect of interior design, where form, function and concept should take precedence. Approach the design of your home in this way and you will be liberated from the slavery of style! This is one of the themes my course is all about.”

Amanda Merchant

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Editorial contribution from one of Devonshire magazine's guest writers. There are currently over 40 writers we are in contact with. If you have an interesting story/subject relating to anything Devon that you think our readers would be interested in, please contact Nigel Jones on 01395 513383