When interior designer Jess McDonald was looking to rebrand her award-winning company last year, she settled on a name inspired by the bergamot plant, the oil of which is often used to elevate mood and reduce stress. ‘It’s just how we think good interior design should be,’ confirms Jess, who set up on her own in 2016 after four years spent working for Caz Myers Design. Born out of the idea of putting the homeowner at the heart of a residential project – her philosophy is ‘creating wonderful living spaces for happy clients’ – she hopes to make the entire process as enjoyable as the end result, by offering great service, a personal approach and transparent costs. ‘Starting out on a design project can be quite daunting for clients; we guide them through each step, helping them to understand what matters in terms of interiors, their personal style and how they want to use their space.’
Bergamot Interiors hopes to make its design projects as enjoyable as the end result, by offering great service, a personal approach and transparent costs
Initial projects were organic, through client recommendations and word-of-mouth; now Jess and her team occasionally work with developers alongside private residential commissions which are mostly in London and the Home Counties. ‘Whether it’s an urban pied-a-terre or a country house, ultimately we want to create a home that’s a sanctuary,’ she continues. Current countryside projects include a Grade II-listed thatched yeoman’s farmhouse and a 16th-century Tudor-style hay barn in the New Forest, which is being transformed into holiday rentals. ‘It’s quite a unique building: it was transported from East Sussex at the turn of the century and has a large stained glass window.’
In the capital, completed interiors include the reconfiguration of a home for a young family, which included remodelling the floor plan to create an extra shower room and additional bedroom; a ground floor refurbishment of a period property including cornicing, specially-commissioned joinery and contemporary Italian pieces; and a 4,000sq foot townhouse for a couple, where bespoke designs such as a Hollywood Regency-style Palmette crystal chandelier in the formal reception room added to the glamorous aesthetic. ‘We work with a range of talented craftsmen and antique specialists who can bring truly special elements to a project,’ says Jess, who cites visits to Alfies Antiques Market and international art and design fairs among her design influences. Existing furniture is reused and revamped where possible (perhaps painting a chest of drawers or changing the handles, say), and paired with antiques which add a layer of history.
Despite the current challenges of COVID-19 and the fragile economy, Jess believes that there are silver linings. ‘What we have seen is that people are valuing their homes a lot more, and priorities are shifting,’ she says – which of course, is where the power of great interior design comes in. ‘From ensuring that a space functions properly to something as simple as knowing where to find your keys when leaving home, or using colour, pattern and texture to lift a mood, design really can be life changing.’
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