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Meet The Designer: Clare Crabtree, ClaranDesign

Clare Crabtree from ClaranDesign is the designer behind this stylish, wheelchair-friendly kitchen renovation, which helped homeowner Sue Mould love her home again. You can watch a video about the project on Houzz TV here. We spoke to Clare who shares more about the project, her inspirations and what she enjoys most about the design process and working with clients.

How did you get started in your career? I was a late starter in the world of interior design. I studied furniture design in college but lacked confidence to become a designer, although it was a passion of mine. When I graduated, I went into project management. Later, whilst I was already managing projects, I studied for a degree in interior design and the rest is history.

What is your design process? I always address the space first. I draw the space as a series of boxes and learn about the client’s lifestyle and how the space is going to be used. Then, I can understand how best to improve it and how to build the boxes back together. I don’t think about the colour, textures or furniture at the beginning, which is sometimes difficult for clients, but my approach is tried and tested and they understand once we get started.

What’s your favorite building or space in the world? I’d have to say my home, not because it looks amazing but because of how it makes me feel. I’m also fascinated by historic buildings, cathedrals especially. I’m inspired by the amount of work that went into them without the resources we have available today.

What is your favorite part of the design process? Definitely the early stages – I love getting to understand a client’s requirements and exploring the options to shape the brief. My favourite part is space planning, taking an existing space and rearranging it in order to answer the brief. This process improves the flow of the building and creates a new space that is more functional.

What did you enjoy most about this particular project? This project challenged me in many ways and, since I love learning new things, I enjoyed doing something different. I also got a huge amount of satisfaction from seeing the change in Sue and how much easier her life became once the space was complete.

What was the biggest challenge during this project and how did you solve it? In terms of design, the ceramic sink was very challenging. Sue was adamant she didn’t want a stainless steel sink. We had to design a unit that would house a deeper ceramic bowl but still give her access to wheel underneath. The plumbing and depth of the bowl gave us real issues but with a creative kitchen fitter we found a great solution. I think the kitchen took us around seven days to fit, two of which were taken up by the sink!

What is one of your designer secrets/tricks? Light. To take a room from day to night is difficult to get right but it makes all the difference when looking to achieve the right ambience and balance in a room. I put every single light, whether it’s ambient, task or accent, on a dimmer to give the client the ability to control the mood at any time.

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