Relative Comfort

When I first started out in interior design one of my biggest worries was whether I would ever view a project for the first time and have absolutely no idea on how to tackle it.  How awful would it be to stand in someone’s sitting room with a completely blank mind?  The truth is I have never met a client who has asked me for ideas within minutes of walking into the room in question and whilst I have thankfully never suffered from the dreaded mind blank, where I have not been instantly inspired, the ideas do start to flow as the meeting progresses and I begin to get a feel for the space and the client’s needs.  There are some projects where I am hit with a vision the second I walk through the door and Petworth Cottage Nursing Home was one such project.

This respite and palliative care home operates from the old cottage hospital in Petworth.  The building has been extended and refurbished periodically and what used to be one of the original wards has been designated as a lounge for visitors.  It has also been used for short term storage for wheelchairs and hoists.  The dual function left it often messy and the cold blue decor made it uninviting.  Our client was keen to make it primarily a space for relatives – home from home, not part of the hospital and somewhere they could relax in and retreat to when visiting loved ones.

When I first saw the room I was hit by the gorgeous views over the Sussex countryside to Petworth House and how tranquil the room felt.  Yes it felt cold but the structure and location were great – triple aspect with a high ceiling and plenty of features.  This was one of those meetings when the client asked me fairly quickly how I would approach the scheme yet it was totally angst free since I had such a clear vision in my head of how it could look.  Coming back to HQ I shared this vision with the team.  Storage for large items was important, a mixture of seating styles set out to enable more than one family to use the space at any one time was vital and it had to feel warm, nurturing and also uplifting.  A large fitted cupboard now provides a home for wheelchairs and hoists, a fireplace adds a homely touch and an all important focal point, sofas, occasional seating and dining areas offer plenty of flexible seating and a combination of chandeliers, downlights, floor and table lamps ensure that the mood of the room can be changed to suit whoever is using it.

Our client is thrilled with the finished scheme and within days of it being completed a family were able to benefit from the new lounge.  I love projects like this; it’s what interior design is all about – creating spaces that people want to spend time in and that make them feel good.  Providing a sanctuary for relatives at what is often an emotionally draining time has been an incredibly rewarding project.  I would like to thank our assistant designer, Nichola Hayler, who completely shared my vision and worked incredibly hard to make the new space what it is.

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Before shot of relatives' lounge

Before shot of relatives’ lounge