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At home in Hurstpierpoint with interior designer Elizabeth Bee

PUBLISHED: 17:20 01 February 2016 | UPDATED: 17:20 01 February 2016

Elizabeth Bee

Elizabeth Bee

Jim Holden www.jimholden.co.uk 07590 683036

Interior designer Elizabeth Bee works from home in Hurstpierpoint, and what a beautiful home it is too, as Alice Cooke found out

In that indomitable way that only cats can, Tiggy and Pretty greet me at the door of Elizabeth Bee’s Hurstpierpoint home, closely followed by Maggie the dog. As an animal lover this makes me feel instantly at home, but in fact even if the four-legged contingent hadn’t been there I would have loved this house.

It is testament to Elizabeth’s design know-how that everything works so well together, because as she is quick to admit “my tastes in my own home are fairly eclectic. It’s fairly common for something unusual to catch my eye, and a huge amount of my objects around the home are from eBay or flea markets. I love finding a bargain, even if it means painting or refurbishing it myself.”

With statement pieces around the house that range from a hippo lampshade and dragonfly wallpaper to an oriental door frame and striking graphic cushions, it’s tricky not to be a little bit envious of all the beautiful things that surround me, but much of it has been bought locally and on a budget. “I love antiques markets – Ardingly has a brilliant one that isn’t too far from us, but here in Sussex we have so many fantastic little independent shops, and I do love a bargain.”

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Elizabeth lives in this house with her husband and two sons Jacob (13) and Caleb (11). “We were looking around for ages – we had sold our house in Hove and just couldn’t find anything that we really liked. But we loved this house from the moment that we saw it on the screen, and as soon as I walked in the door I knew that it was the right place for us.”

Not long after they arrived they extended the kitchen out into the garden, and it is now “bathed in light for most of the day – in fact sometimes it gets a bit too much and I have to retreat elsewhere in the house as at a certain time of the day it’s right at eye level”.

Although some rooms are smaller than others, each space has been considered and used to the full. Elizabeth Bee’s eponymous company was founded in 2001 and specialises in high-end and luxury interior design for residential, property developers and commercial clients. “Every day and project is different and I absolutely love that. My client base is all in Sussex. I have been offered jobs in London but I would always rather work on a project that’s close to home. I like to be really hands-on when I take on a job, so having the client close at hand means that I can visit whenever they want or need me to. I have been lucky enough to build up some strong client relationships and generate work almost entirely through word of mouth and repeat business.”

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Before setting up the company, Elizabeth took courses in Worthing and Chichester in fashion and metal sculpture respectively and then worked as a sign writer, a web designer and a graphic designer, all of which she believes give her an edge over her competitors. “I think it can set me apart from other designers because I am able to translate my 3D ideas and concepts onto the screen with knowledge of different software applications – clients can really see what you’re thinking. Having said that, I do still put together traditional mood boards with fabrics. My sculptural experience really helps too – my mind just works a little differently, which seems to work well for me.”

As well as interior decoration in the traditional sense, Elizabeth works in interior architecture, which she explains to me in layman’s terms as knocking through walls, windows and the like, as well as decorating what’s already there. “I’ve also done some exterior work on houses and working closely with architects to design the look of a building. On one project I have also worked on their landscaping, which I really loved. Gardening is a real passion of mine – that’s how I like to relax when I’m not working, and we spend all our time outside in the garden whenever possible.”

They also do house swap holidays. “We started off quite cautiously by going to Cornwall, so that we could come home if it all went wrong, but now we’ve been to places as far flung as Antigua. We just have to make sure that they can cope with the animals!”

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As well as the two cats and Maggie the dog, there are also chickens and ducks outside in the garden. “I love having that little slice of rural life.” You can see this reflected inside in some of the more rustic pieces, but overall Elizabeth describes her tastes as “colourful – and I don’t want my house to look like anyone else’s. That’s what I want for my clients too, something original that really captures the essence of them.”

And next on the agenda? “More furniture design”, comes the answer. “I am designing more and more bespoke furniture. Clients can see the benefit of making a piece to perfectly fit the space and scheme and it can be more cost effective. I love helping people to discover exactly what they want, and then making their dreams a reality.”

www.jimholden.co.ukwww.jimholden.co.uk

Elizabeth Bee, Hurstpierpoint; 01273 831587; 07769 902676; www.elizabethbee.co.uk

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