Q&A with Interior Designer, Emma Priestley

As I have a very passionate interest in Interior Design, I thought that a Q&A with an interior designer would help me understand more about the steps I could take to achieving my dream career goal. Emma Priestley is now an Interior Designer who is currently in the process of setting her first very own interior shop up in Paderborn, Germany where she will sell beautifully hand picked furniture and accessories sourced from all over the world. Emma grew up in Sedbergh, a small town a stones throw away from the Lake District, where I too was born and raised. I can’t thank Emma enough for being an absolute gem, giving me all the advice and support I need. I thought I would share with you all some of the answers to questions I was itching to know and hope this helps with any of you wanting to know more about the interior design world.



When did you discover your passion for interior design?

“I have always loved design. I remember arranging rooms for my friends when I was 11 years old. All throughout my life everyone always said I had a ‘flare for it’. I have always loved putting things together and getting creative with fabrics and colours.”


What and who has inspired your interior style?

“I love different styles from all over the world but I would say that my style is a merge or contemporary mixed with a dash of Victorian and Georgian period styles. I am a huge fan of OKA and love their pieces. David Long is one of my favourite Interior Designers.”


Has your style evolved over time?

“My style is forever evolving – this is partly a natural process and partly something that has to happen due to meeting my clients needs. The fundamentals are still there – as in I love to combine new pieces with old but I often change my ideas on what I love the most. For instance, I used to be madly in love with copper – before it became really popular. Now I rarely use it in client houses. I would prefer to opt for chrome or aluminium.”


What household item could you not live without?

“All of my beautiful lamps! I specialise in lighting design and so love love love my lamps and could not live without them.”


Describe your style in three words

“Quintessential, arty and interesting.”


How did you get to where you are today? i.e setting up a your very own shop in Paderborn, Germany

“The first time I properly got in to Interior Design was at university where I helped to design a few rooms in a friends’ new property renovation. They really liked what I did and so let me continue to work for them (free of charge) on any new projects they were doing. This was really great for me as it allowed me to get creative and put my ideas to practice for the first time. I continued to work for them (and get paid) for a few years and until I left university (where I studied history and architecture). After studying I started working in event and exhibition design full time which was great and really good in enabling me to consolidate my skills. Whilst working full time as an events and exhibition designer I started doing projects for property developers I knew on the side as I knew that this was where my passion lay. I also decided to do a credited Interior Design course just to make sure I had all of the necessary skills before working full time as an Interior Designer. Upon completion of the course I got my first full time job working for a firm in London as an Interior designer. One year in and I new that I wanted to be my own boss and felt I had enough years of experience – so decided to set up Emma Priestley Interiors. It was he hardest thing I have ever done but definitely the best! I have been fortunate enough to have some wonderful clients but of course some very tricky ones! Now that I have relocated to Germany I have decided to open my first store which will sell Interior products hand selected by myself. I will continue to offer my interior design services in Germany and the U.K. so all very exciting!


What are your favourite trends for A/W16?

“I love the whole artisan look – the blown glass, natural weaves and beaten metals. Am really excited about the new “old” look. It is very authentic and beautiful. Abigail Ahern has this look down to a T.”


What has been your career highlight to date?

“Career highlight has to be my new shop! It doesn’t open until October but I am hoping it will be the first of many as my goal is to have a chain. I think and hope it really encompasses everything that I am about. (Will send pics when I get chance)”


How do you market/promote your business?

“I use all social media platforms – Facebook ads is great. Google Adwords is good for certain things. I also have my big truck branded.”


What would you say are the 3 most important factors of running a successful interior design business?

“You really have to love Interiors otherwise it just won’t work. There are so many “hard times” that include tricky customers and things not going to schedule but you just have to keep your cool and remember that it will always get better. So keeping your cool is also very important! Lastly I would say you have to be prepared to work hard, long and obscure hours – It is not at all glamorous that is for sure.”


What makes a house a home?

“To me a home is somewhere that carries all of your worldly possessions and family heirlooms. I think all of these pieces must be incorporated and combined with anything new that you buy. I also don’t like show homes – you need to be able to chill but of course it should also look beautiful. It’s about getting the balance.”


Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

“In 10 years I would like to have 3-4 Emma Priestley Interiors shops under my belt and would like to be keeping myself very busy with them!”


If you could design any celebrity home, who would it be and why?

“I think it would be someone like Fern Cotton just because she is so creative and would hopefully be willing to get adventurous!”


How would you spend your perfect day off?

“Perfect day off would be riding my motorbike and travelling to a really cool city to spend the day, see the architecture, eat and drink good food and beer!”


City or Country?

“Country always!”


What advice would you give for anyone wanting to pursue an interior design career?

“I would say that if you really love interiors and are prepared for a lot of hard work then go for it! The best thing you can do is get some experience first – either for a firm or find someone who will let you practice on their home! Then get some training as it is crucial you have software skills nowadays to get a job in Interior design.”