Nia Morris is a renowned interior designer and key member of the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID). However it wasn’t until after she read PPE at Oxford and had a successful career in the city as a finance lawyer that she decided to follow her long held passion and move into the creative industry.
Designing residential spaces since 1997, Nia was a founding Director of both Studio Ohm and Cloud Design Studios, each of which of has been recognised in well-regarded lists of top interior design practices including House and Garden’s Top 100 Interior Design Practices and Elle Decoration’s list of top 10 interior design practices in 2015.
She established Nia Morris Studio earlier this year with the aim of establishing a presence in the Cotswolds, where she now spends part of her time. Focusing on creating contemporary country homes that are a little different from the more traditional styles, Nia and her team are great advocates of the eclectic approach. The LuxPad chats to Nia below, where she shares her expert interior advice and tells us more about the move from city lawyer to interior designer…
Did you always know that you wanted to be an interior designer, and how did you get started in the industry?
I always wanted to do something creative but I spent a number of years as a lawyer in the City (being far more interested in the fashion and interiors sections of the papers rather than the business supplements!) before finally following a more creative path.
How did you first get involved in BIID and can you tell us a little about your involvement in the organisation?
I am proud to be the Finance Director of the BIID. It is a fantastic organisation representing the best of interior design in the UK and promoting high professional standards and education within the industry. I would encourage all designers to sign up. Sometimes working for a smaller interior design company can be a bit isolating and it is great to have access to the BIID community.
What is the most rewarding aspect of having your own interior design studio and what is the most challenging?
It is fantastic to have the creative freedom afforded by having your own studio and to be able to develop a distinctive house style. The downside is that when occasionally things go wrong you are on your own!
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
To work out what’s important and focus on those things. We all have so many competing demands on our time and energy and there never seem to be enough hours in the day. So I have to remind myself of this mantra several times a day!
What is your favorite project you have ever worked on and why?
I am in the process of renovating a mill cottage in Gloucestershire for me and my family. The house is in a great location but was in a sorry state when we bought it –it is so exciting to see the transformation.
How would you describe your own interior style and what is your favorite room in your home and why?
I hate spaces to look too coordinated or too perfect-I am not of the plumped cushion school of design. I think drama is important –for example a single important piece in a room can make the whole room sing even if individually the other items are more ordinary.
My favorite room in my flat in London is the living room-I love the light coming from the enormous Critttal windows and the mix of vintage and contemporary pieces. It’s a great place to work and to entertain.
What are your top three tips for a restyling a home in a time-limited period?
My main tip is to take a step back and try to imagine you are looking at the space for the first time. We all get so used our surroundings that we no longer notice when things aren’t working. Big changes can be achieved by really thinking about how to arrange the things you have and, of course, decluttering. Even hanging pictures in new positions can give a place a new lease of life.
With a bit more time and energy, painting a room can transform it. I prefer white (Farrow and Ball Wevet is my favorite and my entire flat is painted this color) or strong colors such as Paint and Paper Library Squid ink.
How would you spend your dream day off?
Diving in the Maldives!
If you could design the interior of any space in the world where would it be and why?
I’d love to design a retail space –I always have so many ideas that might be a bit overwhelming in a residential space but I think would work perfectly in a retail environment!
What does the rest of 2016 hold for you and your Studio?
We are busy on several large residential projects in London and Oxfordshire and a house in Torquay. I hope to complete the renovation of my own house in time to spend Christmas there!
Follow Nia over on Twitter @studio_nia to discover more of her designs and interior inspiration.