Harrogate interiors masterclass has boosted my confidence with design
Last updated Oct 22, 2021
Joanie Mac, who runs an interior design masterclass at her Harrogate home.

This article is sponsored by Lapicida

As a nation, we have always taken great pride in our homes.

And in the age of Pinterest and Instagram, online shopping and interiors influencers, it has become easier than ever to have a go at being an interior designer.

You only have to look at the continuing success of glossy magazines like Ideal Home, as well as popular TV shows like Changing Rooms and Grand Designs, to recognise we have a huge fascination with transforming our homes.

And in 2021 – after 18 months of being very much at home – we are more obsessed than ever.

Guilty pleasure

Interior design is well and truly having a moment and I am here for it. My guilty pleasure on an evening when the kids have gone to bed is trawling through Instagram and screenshotting all the gorgeous images of people’s homes. I’m also a Rightmove addict and I read every interiors magazine I can get my hands on.

A rear view of Joanie’s renovated home on Wetherby Road.

So when Harrogate interior designer Joanie Mac invited me to join one of her masterclass dayschools at her own incredible home in Harrogate, it was a no-brainer.

While I have tried to absorb every tip and piece of knowledge passed on by designers, I will admit I’m still pretty clueless. I know when something works in my home, but I don’t necessarily know why.

So when I rocked up to Joanie’s house on Wetherby Road on Sunday morning at 9.30am, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Fabulous

Joanie’s home is everything you expect from an interior designer. Completely fabulous. Obviously I couldn’t stop myself having a nosy at all her quirky furniture, artwork, accessories and bold colour schemes. I was like a kid in a sweet shop.

Joanie’s fabulous open-plan sitting area and dining room.

I was joined by four other students from a variety of backgrounds. There was a mum who attended with her art student daughter, an upholsterer and a primary school teacher, who was planning on changing her career.

After a welcome cup of coffee, we all took a seat at Joanie’s white marble kitchen island and began our first lesson of the day on colour theory.

“Colour is such a powerful thing,” explained Joanie, as she showed us various colour schemes and images and explained why they worked or didn’t.

“Colour changes everything.”

Four seasons

Joanie explained how colours can be broken down into the four seasons. Spring features bright vibrant colours, summer is more muted, soft and “flowery”, autumn is dark and cocooning, while winter, again with its darker tones, has a more “masculine edge”.

Apparently these colours play to our personalities and most of us usually fall into two seasons.

Joanie said:

“The big thing about colour is it can pull everything together – the things you wouldn’t think match. But you have to use it to create cohesiveness not choppiness.”

After another cup of coffee – it was a Sunday after all – Joanie took us on a tour of her house, which she has renovated and decorated to showcase her ideas and methods.


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With her walls painted predominantly in Little Owl, a soft warm grey by Fired Earth, Joanie explained that she had used furniture, accessories and lighting to inject colour and bring her home to life. Her rule is to stick to three colours and use variants of these in each room.

Exhibition

Joanie’s home is like one big beautiful exhibition and it certainly gave me some inspiration – from her mixture of vintage and modern design to the way she had hung a stunning floral dress on the wall as a piece of art.

A pretty floral dress can be used as a piece of wall art.

Importantly she had made everything flow by using the “red thread” concept. The idea is that you use this when decorating your own home to link the spaces and bind them together as a whole house, rather than just a series of rooms linked by passages.

For example you could use a splash of blue in all of your rooms. The idea is you must never decorate a room in isolation but consider the property as a whole.

Patterns and textures

After we had explored her house, including her amazing garden, Joanie spoke about patterns and textures.

She said:

“It’s about the friction between the textures. You don’t want to overload the room, but you want to create friction.”

Joanie takes us on a tour of her amazing home.

She suggested sticking to three textures in the room, using accessories like rugs, cushions, wallpaper and vases, and to also make sure you add plenty of green with plants.

It was then time to get stuck into some practical work. We were asked to cut up pictures from interior magazines of images we were drawn to, as well as fabrics and wallpapers, and stick them down to create a mood board.

Art project

This was actually lots of fun, as I’m so used to doing this sort of thing digitally on Pinterest. It felt so much more satisfying to actually create a board with something tangible. It was like doing a school art project and I found it really therapeutic.

Part of my moodboard.

We were then told to write down the first five words that came into our heads to describe ourselves. And it turns out our moodboards, and the colours and textures we used to create them, actually said a lot about us as people.

Brave

Initially I was quite reserved and almost needed permission from Joanie to go nuts with colour and texture. It turns out this summed up the anxious side of my personality perfectly. Once I relaxed into it, I started adding floral patterns, velvet, metallics and bright pink, and somehow it actually worked. I already felt braver when it came to putting this into practice at home.

After lunch on a naturally beautifully-laid table, featuring wooden serving platters, vintage cutlery and decorated with sprigs of rosemary, we looked at seven iconic design styles and learned about the style elements for each one. These were:

  • Scandinavian
  • Eclectic
  • Industrial
  • Vintage
  • Minimalist
  • Mid-century modern
  • Modern coastal
  • Contemporary

Lunch is served on a beautifully-laid table.

We also learned briefly about lighting and how this can transform your space, before moving on to creating vignettes.

A vignette, in terms of interior design, is a tiny, curated style statement, made up of a group of objects that are displayed on a shelf, a table, or elsewhere in the home.

Vignette

We had been asked to bring five objects from our own houses. Mine included an old framed photo of my great grandmother, an antique cigarette box and a vintage coffee tin.

Joanie then made a vignette using each of these items, as well as some of her own accessories, and her creations were really impressive.

We learned to look at them through a picture frame as an individual piece of art and to also contain some of the items, for example on a tray or under a glass cloche, which was extremely effective. Again it was interesting what we all chose to bring, interior design really is about you and projecting your personality.

One of the vignettes created by Joanie using items from my home.

I finished the day feeling really relaxed, but also motivated and excited about putting all the new skills I had learned into practice in my own home.

I am definitely going to be more adventurous with both colour and texture. If think something is going to work in a space, whether that be a really dark paint, a crazy patterned rug, or a random fabric, I’m going to be more confident to give it a go.

After all, my home is a reflection of me and I now feel brave enough to embrace it.

My favourite styling tips from the day:

  • Every chair should have a table – you need somewhere to put your cuppa!
  • Use lots of lamps in a room – even in a kitchen – as they provide ambience and pools of light
  • In a small room, there should be three focal points to distract you from the size
  • We hang everything too high – including pictures
  • Pull furniture away from the wall to make a room seem bigger – by moving your sofa six inches away from the wall, this will make a big difference.

 

Learning about colour with Joanie.

 

  • Joanie’s Interior Design Masterclass takes place on various days from 9.30am until 3.30pm and costs £175. Refreshments, lunch and materials are included. There is also an optional day two, where you can learn to become your own project manager for £325 for both days. For more information on the dayschool click here.
  • To learn more about the various courses, including upcoming special Christmas workshops, Joanie offers, visit www.joaniemac.com

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