Jane McIntrye – an Interior Designer based in Hampshire

All my life I have had a deep and abiding love of fabric, from early beginnings at my Grandma’s hearth playing with offcuts of velvet and silk as she sewed. I later drove my mother and subsequent partners mad by the heaps of fabrics I aquired to make anything from teddie’s clothes to outrageous outfits for my younger self. My first flea pit of college digs was transformed into a cosy nook with aubergine walls and velvet and lace drapes where I escaped into my fantasy world of Victorian melodrama while studying for a fashion design degree. Very soon it just went on from there, first a friend, then two or three, asking for advice on this and that aspect of interior design, always a quick and exotic fix.  But my first house in 1980 was probably my launching pad, an eccentric blend of black walls, over the top curtains and a lot of lace got me hooked and I have been designing ever since – terraced houses for first time buyers, flats and town-houses in London, country farmhouses, large and small family houses, bachelor pads and teenage bedsits. Some of these have been in the form of personal property development for rental or sale, some have been favours but most have been for clients. I have fully re-designed, project managed and refurbished a 30 bedroom hotel in the New Forest – Stanwell House, which I owned and ran for eleven years.  During that period I also designed the set and costumes for two plays – one in the West End by Ben Elton and one at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival– and co-ran a designer fashion shop in Lymington, Stanwells boutique.

Flashing back, after three years in the fashion industry  I changed direction to set up an entertainments company with my partner and long time love, Phil McIntyre.  From very humble beginnings, in 1978, with an office at the dining table of a tiny terraced house in Preston, the business grew to become one of the foremost in its field of producing, promoting and representing artistes.  I was honoured to work with some of Britain’s top comedians including Rowan Atkinson, Dave Allen, Billy Connolly, Steve Coogan, Ben Elton, Ade Edmondson, Harry Enfield, Lenny Henry, French & Saunders, Reeves and Mortimer,  Victoria Woodand the very sadly missed Rik Mayall. Then there were bands such as The Smiths,  Metallica, Culture Club, New Orderand Iron Maiden, but my highlight has to have been producing the Torvill and Dean ice shows over a period of six years. How I loved their shows!  And in between I was doing houses, exciting times.

Wonderful memories, but the need to travel a lot and be based in London was not conducive to family life, hence retiring from that to live in the very beautiful and atmospheric New Forest.  Unfortunately it was also the end of Phil and I, but we had two lovely girls together, Amy and Hannah, both now independent business women in their own right. Amy bought a run down YHA hostel Plas Curig Hostel in Snowdonia which she totally refurbished, was awarded 5 stars and became known as “the poshest hostel in the UK”. I helped her with the colour schemes and furnishing choices once she had redesigned the footprint and that area of Wales will always hold a special place in my heart, even though she has since sold the property. Hannah owns a luxury B&B in Winchester, hannah’s, has received rave reviews from The Timesand The Independent newspapers, Conde Nast Traveller,  Delicious magazine and flatly refused to let me anywhere near the design! 

Fast forwarding again to after Stanwell House, I had an interiors shop in Winchester where I met some lovely people and had an exciting time finding products that were always that little bit different. But retail, particularly now, is tough and it gave me less and less time to spend on my real love, which is interior design. So I have moved my office to home, which is infinitely more inspiring with its gorgeous forest views from my study, the ability to play crashing music when I feel the need and to share my space with four furry friends and my man. I also have the use of a showroom space in Twyford with the lovely Deborah of Hursley Workroom, an easy to reach destination to meet up with clients and the added bonus of a growing shared library of pattern books. It’s a good dynamic as together we have a passion for producing beautiful bespoke furnishings that will withstand the test of time and the quality of her seamstresses is second to none. We also share a deep love of Gin.

Going forward I’m hoping to meeet many more clients with many lovely projects. I believe a good designer should listen to her client, but after all the client does seek out the designer to guide and inspire so I hope to encourage my clients to be braver with colour, pattern and texture. I never push my ideas but I do so love it when  clients thanks me for steering them away from their comfort zone to a more exciting place. My only absolute rule is that I don’t do Magnolia, other than that anything goes.

I am privilieged to live in the New Forest in a beautiful house that was designed, built and lived in by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who I keep hoping to meet in the dark upstairs corridor. The refurbishment has been ongoing for 12 years – and I’m a designer! – but it was very battered when we moved in and it has since been home to seven children (and two very tired parents) so it’s beginning to shine once again now it’s just the two of us and I’m hoping the next year will see its completion.