Homewings is a revolutionary way of sharing great interior design with the masses. Founder Cornelia De Ruiter explains the Homewings concept to The LuxPad, and shares her top tips on how to create the illusion of space…
For those unfamiliar with Homewings can you explain the concept?
Homewings is all about making professional interior design more accessible to the wider market by making it much more affordable (from £149/ room) and hassle free. We have created a design service that blends the best of technology with the personal nature of traditional interior design – ensuring each project is unique for that customer.
We enable customers to submit a brief sharing the basics for their project – things like a floor plan, imagery and inspiration. We then match the brief to the right designer based on style and requirements (we have 50+ amazing designers). The customer collaborates with a designer all within their unique style and budget, and all online through our bespoke platform. At the end of the design process we offer our personal shopping service and installation tips & tricks.
Our online model is enabling us to deliver quality work at scale whilst still ensuring a personal experience with for the customer. We have also built a community of designers which we are really proud of.
Did you always want to work in the world of design and how did you first get into the industry?
My love for interiors started with my grandmother who was way ahead of her time with her beautiful mid-century home which she furnished in her own ever-evolving unique style, mixing antiques with modern pieces. I remember my 8th birthday where instead of the traditional Barbie dolls my mum got me the new accessories and a big indoor plant I wanted for my bedroom make-over. So yes, it started early. You’d be surprised though that for many years I also pursued a career in business, including strategy consulting. But no matter how long and gruelling my days were, I always had design projects going on – to keep my sanity I think!
Do you think the Homewings model is the future of interior design?
I believe so yes. Having a well-designed, beautiful and functional home should not be something exclusive to those with deeper pockets or time to spare. Homewings makes it possible for everyone to have the home they deserve and need.
But I also recognise that traditional interior design will always have a place for clients with bigger budgets and bigger projects who are looking for real hands-on help throughout the entire process, from going shopping together to coordinating with contractors.
Can you talk us through what a typical working day looks like for you?
Like the typical London mum my day starts hectic: I yell at my kids to get dressed and brush their teeth for 2 minutes, trip over Lego, brush my own teeth for 1 minute, speedwell them to school and then I squeeze myself ‘like a sardine’ between the other commuters on the Northern Line to get to our office in Shoreditch. By then I’m usually ready for my second cappuccino, while I aim to get my inbox and Slack messages under control. The fun (but also sometimes daunting) part of building a start-up is that there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ day – there is so much to do and it varies from onboarding designers to consulting with clients, to deciding our marketing strategy to discussing tech requirements for the next iterations of the platform etc. etc. We do have a great team so no matter how busy we are there is always time for some banter and a chat.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Different variations on “It’s not about the destination but about the journey”. It’s about experiences and learning – enjoying all the great moments, not shying away from a challenge and reminding yourself that when the going gets tough you will come out of it stronger.
What are your top three tips to restyle a small room to help give the illusion of space?
- A great tip, and counter-intuitive, is to play with dimensions and for instance choose a larger rug as opposed to a smaller one. You’ll see it makes a room appear bigger instantaneously.
- Great light is also key in a small room. I often strategically place a mirror so that it reflects the natural light from a window back into the room. It can make a huge difference.
- Good storage is also important. If you have a small space you really don’t want to cramp it with any clutter. There are lots of great furniture solutions out there that offer smart storage, like beds with drawers underneath or desks with an integrated bookcase.
How do you select the interior designers who work for Homewings, do you have a set criteria?
We are lucky to get many new designer applications in every week. But we are very selective. We make our first selection based on qualifications, experience, software skills and a review of portfolios and references. Then we conduct an initial interview to assess other aspects like communications skills and general fit with the Homewings spirit. We are looking for people who are not only highly skilled but also resonate with our mission to bring great design to everyone. We look for people who are willing to go the extra mile for clients, but who are also good team players and excited about becoming a part of the Homewings community.
What is your favourite project you have ever worked on and why?
That’s a hard one! I get very excited about almost every new project, because I love problem solving and having new things to inspire me.
How would you spend your perfect day off?
I love a lazy and food-focused Sunday, starting with croissants, newspapers and magazines at our favourite bakery and ending with a scrumptious Sunday roast pub lunch with friends. But I also really enjoy exploring in and outside of London. We often go to Brixton Village and Brixton Pop, where it’s always vibrant and inspiring. But taking a train to for instance a little town like Whitstable is also pretty high up on the list of favourite things to do – they have two legendary seafood restaurants and topping that off with a breezy walk on the beach is just the best.
What does 2017 hold for Homewings?
Where to start… We have only just embarked on our mission to democratise and revolutionise interior design, so watch this space!