Q&A with Interior Designer Amelia Carter

I knew of Amelia before meeting her when I saw her work at The Holiday House show house right after moving to London. She had designed one of the bedrooms for the project - it was fabulous. I love her use of colour and whimsy in all her designs. She also gives fantastic first hand accounts of project progression on her instagram stories. While the foundations of all of her work are classic and precise, her finishing touches really set her apart. Serendipitously, a few years ago, Amelia joined a committee for a charity I work on called The Shoebox Project for Women. Working with Amelia was a dream. She is organised, dedicated and proactive. I was delighted when she agreed to do this Q&A. Read on to learn more about her career, her tips and tricks for managing work and family, as well as who and what has made an impact on her career.

What is your education and career background?

I studied Textile design and art history at NSCAD university in Halifax, Canada. I loved working in the textiles studio so much I didnt want to stop! So I applied and was accepted to Textile Futures at Central St Martin’s. I only meant to come to London for 3 years. That was 18 years ago!

My first job out of St Martin’s was as a junior designer at Kelly Hoppen and I moved swiftly from there to Senior Designer and then Design Director at Katharine Pooley.

What spurred you to start Amelia Carter Interiors?

Working at KP I realised that there was a huge number of people who had substantial budgets and wanted to be part of the design process but didn’t want to spend what they were being told it would cost. I saw a niche and decided to go for it. My first job was with a good friends cousin and I realised very quickly that it didn’t make any sense for me to work for someone else anymore. I wanted a flexible job that would allow me to manage my own time and eventually when I had kids give me time to be there for them. I was not going to get that in the role I had.

Was there anything holding you back?

Absolutely not! When you make a decision like that, run, don’t walk!

Some challenges you faced when you first started?

I came from a background of luxury interior and I needed to re adjust my mentality to meet the reason I started out on my own. I did a lot of cost engineering before presenting budgets to clients as I wanted to make sure they were comfortable and that I also delivered the quality they expected. It was also a juggle time wise as suddenly I was managing every aspect of a project and I kept taking them on! At one point I had 15 projects and thought, ok I need to get this under control. That was pre- kids…

What was the hardest part of building your own business?

Saying no! I had so much word of mouth business but a lot weren’t full house projects which is what I was really aiming for. When I had a full 12 month forecast secured, I got the confidence to kindly say no to projects that weren’t going to help grow my business.

Advice for women who want to follow in your footsteps?

Have a mentor male or female or better - both. Surround yourself by people who inspire you. Every time you complete a job, write down the highs and lows and look hard for the lessons learned. It will make the next one better.

Would you do anything differently?

A good friend and fellow interior designer once said to me ‘if you don’t need to grow your business, dont’. I didn’t listen to her and proceeded to hire 4 staff thinking that’s what I needed to do to keep going. I don’t believe in regrets but I wish I’d listened to her because when I realised that wasn’t how I wanted my business to work, I decided to let them all go which was sad. At the same time that I ‘upped the anti’ I gave birth to my second daughter. As a result I missed key moments in the first two years of her life - that is a regret I have to admit. Not taking my friends advice, helped me to reevaluate the life I wanted to live. So that was the silver lining at least.

How do you set your goals?

I write lists - 5 year plans - and reflect on them every once in a while to see how I’m doing. But goals change because the things we value change. My life goals before I had children are very different to my life goals now. Perspective is everything and it’s 100% ok to change your mind or reevaluate.

How do you reflect on your success?

I very rarely pat myself on the back as I always seem to be throttling forward at speed! It’s hard to remember to stop and enjoy the successes, how great or small, along the way. My secret joy is to walk through a completed project with a client and admire how it has come together and to reflect on the highs (and occasional lows) of the time we’ve spent together. For me success in work is the relationship that is formed with Clients. The greatest reward for my efforts is time. Time to work at my hobbies or watch my children’s sports games so success in my personal life is having this time for them and balancing it with work.

What are the daily rituals that make you successful?

Waking up early is my new key to success. The start of my day needs to be just mine, before my girls wake up. I get a workout in and then spend an hour or so at my desk getting through the critical items in total peace and quiet.

How do you manage your time?

Since moving out of London, time management has taken a whole new form! I have a commute to consider and also school runs which can’t be done on foot. It’s essential to not waste a moment of my working day so I make sure I have ‘tasks’ that I can complete within one train journey. Whether it’s editing drawings or requesting quotes. It has to be short and sweet so that I can start and finish it in the journey and tick it off my to do list. When I’m in London I schedule at least 2 meetings so I don’t waste any time. And social lunches are a thing of the past. I can’t afford to miss my train home or I’ll let my daughters down which is not an option.

Number one productivity hack? I’d say this is my ‘train tasks’. So maybe a receptive answer?!

Who and what have influenced your style and your career?

Both of my parents have been huge influences for me. My Mother probably rearranged the furniture in our house 2 or 3 times a year growing up. It was alway something I loved to watch her do because spaces became refreshed and reinvented. She enjoyed creating a beautiful home and I loved that. But she was also very sensible and budget conscious. She recovered furniture rather than buying new, visited auctions for unique pieces and bargains and could reinvent a room using just a paint colour. My Dad is very sensible and kind. He is overly generous with his kindness and patience but it has done him well so I try to follow along in his footsteps. Kindness can change someone’s day - and a negotiation.

What are you currently coveting interior and fashion wise?

Interiors wise I am loving the Cerine pendant lights from Trueing. I would LOVE to use this in my sitting room.

Fashion wise - anything leather or suede fringed, but that seems to be a constant! I’d also love the Pastel tie dye classic Chanel bag.

Click on photos to shop Amelia's Wishlist.