Written by Becca Green

Q&A with Zoe Perks, winner of the Under the Stairs Project

We spoke to interior designer Zoe Perks about her winning design for Grand Designs Live Birmingham’s Under the Stairs Project.

zoe perks shot - Q&A with Zoe Perks – the winner of the Under the Stairs Project - inspiration - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Gary Summers from SMD Photography 

The Under the Stairs Project is a competition for interior designers that takes place at Grand Designs Live. It aims to inspire visitors and encourage them to take home new ideas and to be truly inspired.

It’s often the case that the space under the stairs is unused and goes to waste. This project shows that even the smallest of spaces can be practical and stylish, too.

under the stairs opener - Q&A with Zoe Perks - the winner of the Under the Stairs Project - inspiration - granddesignsmagazine.com

Image: Gary Summers from SMD Photography 

Zoe Perks from Beautiful Rooms by Zoe was the worthy winner at this years Grand Designs Live Birmingham and we can totally see why. We got the opportunity to catch up with her and chat about her beautiful and inspiring project.

What was the inspiration behind your creation?

The initial inspiration was actually a beautiful cocktail bar in a boutique hotel that I visited a few years ago. I love 1920s glamour and wanted to portray this in my use of the space.

The Art Deco-inspired wallpaper is from Anna Hayman, which was a great starting point. I worked with Daniel Bland to create the amazing gold worktop. I also love the idea of a secret cocktail bar that’s hidden but totally glamorous – somewhere to escape to!

What are your top tips on making the most out of small spaces?

First things first – you’ve got to ask yourself, what do you want from a space? It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s the biggest or smallest room in the house, you must ask this question.

When it comes to small spaces, reflective surfaces are important. For my under the stairs cocktail bar, I made the back wall a mirror, so light is constantly being bounced around the space.

Don’t believe the myth – you can definitely use dark colours in small spaces, just make sure you use every inch of the space and appropriately scale furniture. For my cocktail bar, I made bespoke furniture that utilised every inch of the square footage I was given. There’s a pull-out table and a pull-out bench that can both be stored away when not they’re not needed.

under the stairs zoe - Q&A with Zoe Perks – the winner of the Under the Stairs Project - inspiration - goodhomesmagazine.com

Image: Gary Summers from SMD Photography 

In terms of your career as an interior designer, how would you sum up your style and service?

The internet is very overwhelming and there is so much choice, so some people need guidance to narrow things down. I think that fresh ideas, a bit of furniture rearranging and a little boost of confidence might be all you need and more often than not, this is true! I even offer 2-3 hour consultation sessions with clients, as sometimes that’s all they require from me.

In terms of my style I absolutely love period homes and mixing different styles. I market myself as being able to design for the individual. I think clients gravitate towards me because of this – I love a total mix!

Can you tell us about the most demanding brief you’ve ever undertaken?

Funnily enough, it was one of the most simple briefs that ended up being the most challenging. It was a converted barn out in the country, but the client had quite a modern taste and she loved absolutely everything! It needed to be modern and fresh, however because of the nature of the barn, it was quite dark and very open-plan.

The client almost liked too much and had too many styles, so we had to work hard to narrow those down. I had to focus in on the tiny details that I had recognised in all of the things that she said she loved. In the end, the project was a huge success and it was a real learning curve for me.


If you want to see more from Zoe, check out her website. You can also follow her on Instagram.


What do you think of Zoe’s Under the Stairs Project? Tweet us @goodhomesmag or post a comment on our Facebook page.



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