Interior designer Jacqui Smith invites us into her Lindfield home
PUBLISHED: 16:33 08 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:35 20 March 2015
Jim Holden www.jimholden.co.uk 07590 683036 01825 841157
Homesmiths is a collaboration between Jacqui Smith and her husband David. After an unlikely path into interior design which included a Maths and Economics degree and marketing work for companies including Harrods, Penguin and American Express, it was a close friend that finally gave her the push she needed to be more creative.
“I was redecorating for friends in my free time, just for fun, and it turned out that they all thought I was rather good at it – which was something of a revelation to me!”
But while Jacqui may not have realised that this was the direction she’d always wanted to go in, when she looks back now she says that she can see she was always heading that way. “As a child I loved nothing better than re-arranging my bedroom or designing houses for my dolls in shoe boxes,” she smiles. “But my school wasn’t very artistically minded and I was encouraged towards the more academic subjects as opposed to arty things.”
“My parents were both very practical,” she says of her upbringing, “and my father was always decorating something. I spent hours in wool shops with my mother choosing the colour of my next jumper.”
Having met David in 1997, who was working as a cabinet maker at the time, they decided that combining their talents made perfect sense. “We actually work really well together,” says Jacqui. “I think everyone was worried about us working and living together, but we honestly complement each other in everything that we do – it’s a bit sickening really!”
The pair now work from home in Lindfield, where they moved in 2003. “We converted our double garage into an office space, and people are always astounded at how much we manage to fit in there!”
Alongside reams of fabric samples, which I am told are all in a very particular order and place, there are four desks, where Jacqui and David work alongside Katy May, their Assistant Designer, Jenna Gage their Project Co-ordinator and Nikki Smith (no relation), a fellow mother at the school that Jacqui’s two sons attend and the first employee they took on as a business six years ago.
Today Homesmiths works on everything from individual rooms to entire houses for private clients, and also puts together designs for show rooms and care homes. The latter is something that Jacqui is really passionate about. She permanently lost the sight in her left eye in 2012, and has since worked with charities and organisations that specialise in designing for those with a visual impairment, as well as the elderly and those with a specific condition, such as dementia. She has even written a book on the subject, put together to encourage other designers to be more aware of and sympathetic to people’s precise needs. “All too often you see these gaudy, child-like designs in care homes – it makes me shudder,” she says. “It also really makes my blood boil when you speak to someone who has recently had a room designed and they say that it’s not really what they wanted – we as a business are all about listening to our clients. It’s their home after all, not ours!”
Jacqui is also a huge advocate of promoting other local businesses, and likes nothing better than networking and putting other local companies together. “The flowers I use in the show homes are by local florist Jo O’Connor of Battle House of Flowers – she’s just brilliant, and I love being able to use as many local stockists and materials in my rooms as possible. Local businesses should stick together.”