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Les Tuileries in Dorking - Surrey's best interior designers

PUBLISHED: 10:11 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:17 20 February 2013

Designer Style sees Surrey Life speaking to Surrey's best designers

Designer Style sees Surrey Life speaking to Surrey's best designers

If you thought an interior designer was beyond your budget, Dorking-based Penny Shivjee will change your mind. Janet Donin finds out the secret of her success

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2009

If you thought an interior designer was beyond your budget, Dorking-based Penny Shivjee will change your mind. Janet Donin finds out the secret of her success




Name: Penny Shivjee
Company: Les Tuileries
Location: 6 South Street, Dorking, Surrey RH4 2EL
Tel: 01306 888028






Making interior design accessible to everyone is top of Penny Shivjee's agenda. On meeting her, you can't help but warm to her enthusiasm - and as we chat at her Dorking studio, with its extensive wallpaper and fabric library, and the simple painted furniture, she reassures me that affordable design can be yours.

"Interior design doesn't need to be expensive," says the 44-year-old. "But the important thing is to get clients to focus on cost right from the start. That way, I can work within their financial boundaries and make them feel comfortable.

"Lots of people pop into the studio for a cuppa or glass of wine to chat about ideas. It's an informal way to get to know a client - even if they are just looking for a new wallpaper or fabric."

The studio is the hub of Penny's dream. It all started some seven years ago when she gave up travelling the world with British Airways to follow her love of interior design. Diplomas from KLC and the National Design Academy in Nottingham followed, and she opened her Les Tuileries studio in 2007.

Her signature style is essentially updated classic. She loves the beautiful, traditional designs of Colefax & Fowler and Mulberry, but often uses them with a modern piece of furniture. So in a study, a lovely floral wallpaper is complemented by a traditional desk and contrasted with a modern Perspex chair.

"Right now, there's an increase in young professionals, buying homes in Dorking, who want contemporary style interiors for their Victorian properties," says Penny. "The emphasis is on a bold use of colours with sharp textures like glass and metal to create a clean-cut look."

Surrey heartland

By contrast, she says the traditional heartland of Surrey longs for the French country look to bring character to a home. Glass-fronted cupboards, distressed tables and chairs and faded floral fabrics are all much in demand.
And when it comes to colours, they are going for every shade of green - from emerald to lime - together with lapis and aubergine.

"Considering the economic situation, it's interesting that jewel colours with silk or satin fabrics are very much on-trend," she adds.

For those who feel inspired to have a try at design themselves, Penny also runs a whole range of classes and talks from her studio, which has become something of a creative hub for Dorking.

For instance, she has recently launched a monthly Design Club, especially for local homeowners.

"Speakers from the world of design will give informative talks and interesting demonstrations on all aspects of design," she says. "At a cost of 10 per session, the aim is to help members feel comfortable with an interior designer and to have more confidence in choosing wallpapers or fabrics for themselves."

In addition, Penny also runs numerous workshops in the studio. "I'm really keen to keep traditional design moving to help people understand what goes into creating things," she adds. So, for the more enthusiastic hands-on home maker, there are courses in upholstery as well as curtain and lampshade making.

And, in another innovative move, she is now talking to local schools and Reigate College to help support design students with their work.

"We have many talented people at our fingertips so by tapping into their skills we can bring creative ideas to our clients and support the local community at the same time," she says.

Her vision is inspiring; her enthusiasm infectious: design for everyone indeed!

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