Bedroom designer Evelyn M Lindley describes her journey to realise her creative passion, sharing how she incorporates playful colour into her dark-toned interiors
I did something quite exciting recently, well I thought it was exciting. I did my first ever Zoom interview. I felt I’d missed out over the last few years, at least in a professional capacity. Watching on enviously from the sidelines, as it seemed the entire world migrated their working lives online. Of course, I’d heard the murmurs of discontent – ‘Yet another Zoom call’ – but everything is novel the first time you do it and I was finally getting to see this brave new world with my own eyes. I was about to join the party albeit unfashionably late.
The call in question was with Evelyn M Lindley – Evie for short – a talented young interior designer who had recently completed the renovation of her three bedroom home in Sittingbourne. Evie describes her style as gothic vintage romance, which (while a bit of a mouthful) is certainly not going to go unnoticed. Looking through photos of Evie’s house before our meeting, I was struck by how different it is to others I have visited. A quick look at her website revealed another unexpected discovery. Her primary focus is on bedroom design and the importance of these spaces in childhood and relationship development. I’m a big fan of people doing things differently and admire anyone undeterred by the status quo. So I was looking forward to talking to her about how her work has emerged.
It was time for our Zoom call and I felt fully prepared as I logged on to my new laptop. My joy was short-lived, however, and delight quickly turned to alarm as my computer informed me the camera and microphone weren’t detected. After much faffing I reverted to plan B and used my phone. As we started the call I thought to myself how not that much has changed.
Before we began looking at the house, I wanted to ask Evie what felt like the most pressing question – “Why bedrooms?” I probed curiously. “They’ve always been the most important room to me,” she explained. “When I was younger money was tight, so I didn’t have my own room. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I got a room of my own and it was the place where I learnt about myself and found out who I am. I did everything there, I dressed up, I did photography, wrote poetry and designed things, like clothes.”
Not only is the bedroom an important room to Evie, she also works with them from a therapeutic perspective. “Bedrooms are the spaces where people discover who they are as children, but as adults it can become a space for two people instead of one. It’s a space that can be used to bring two people closer together, created by both, which contains all their creative and restorative needs.” Grasping the concept, I summarised – “OK, so it’s like a cross between interior design and couples therapy?” – “Yes, that’s it!” she confirmed.
Evie has always been a creative person, as a child she would spend lots of time being inventive in different ways. It led her to designing clothes, writing poetry and eventually interior design. “When I was 15 my mum told me we could decorate our rooms however we wanted and it sparked something in me,” she says.
Evie left school knowing she wanted to use her creativity in her work: “I knew what I wanted to do, but when I left school my family told me I would never make any money out of being creative, so I went down a more businessy route instead.” Over the next few years Evie did everything but be creative, taking jobs as varied as a taxi driver to an embalmer. She was unfulfilled –“I was just so unhappy and it made me really low.” During lockdown she had time to think about her situation and decided to do something about it, enrolling on a course in interior design.
Evie loved the course and passed with flying colours. “What I really learnt is that I knew it already,” she says and started to put what she’d realised into practice. Working on projects for friends and families, she transformed their homes and, of course, their bedrooms, honing her style and understanding of what it meant to her. The Sittingbourne house has been the biggest project so far, re-imagining the bland and rather characterless interior to create a brilliant expression of Evie’s personality: “When we first got the house it was just magnolia everything!”
Of course, there was only one place for us to begin, so we started with the two guest bedrooms. The first room is the darker of the two, which Evie describes as the dark floral room. The walls are painted dark holly green from Zinsser, while the ceiling is a contrasting lilac from Lick, separated by a gold trim. The inspiration for the room was a pair of dark floral curtains. I asked Evie if she always started with something that inspired her. She explained, “Yes, I like to find something I love and decorate from there.”
Looking around the room Evie shows me some personal items which she has integrated into the room. A dresser, which belonged to her Nan who sadly passed away, has been lovingly upcycled with a set of pine shelves and painted to match the walls. Evie explains, “It helps give a sense of space and depth to the room.” The centrepiece of the room is a striking lampshade from Fringe Handcrafted Lampshades. On another wall there’s a large pink kimono displayed in the traditional way from Belle Empire in Tunbridge Wells. “I’ve always loved kimonos, they were a way of expressing myself when I didn’t have any confidence.”
Evie loves pink and outside the bedroom there is lots more, this time it’s a striking gallery area. She explains the bold approach, “The hallway is the best place to make a dramatic impression. You want people to say wow, but it’s not necessary that they like it.” The photogenic landing area is the main thoroughfare of the house and certainly catches the attention. The gallery wall is bedecked with a mixture of framed prints including lots of inspirational and uplifting quotes, a theme throughout the house. Evie explains, “As someone who has had mental health issues I find them really helpful, it reminds me that [when times are hard], it does get better.” The bannisters and floorboards are painted in Burlington Arcade by Mylands, a blue which offers a pleasing contrast to the pink, while the stair runners are a clever hack from eBay. They’re actually not stair runners per-se, but rugs which have been put together to create a runner, which Evie tacked and created herself.
“We got quoted £700 for stair runners, so I just bought three rugs for £28 and stitched them together instead.”
From the landing we turn into a study which leads into the master bedroom which is a very ‘Evie’ peacock themed room. “I really love peacocks. It’s designed to be an enveloping experience which is comforting and warm, like a big hug,” she explains. The inspiration for the room this time is the headboard, beaded with peacock feathers and upholstered by Evie. The walls and ceiling are all painted deep blue spruce, a colour which really does feel like you’re being engulfed, but in a good way. It’s a deeply relaxing and soothing space. Gold is interspersed throughout the room helping to bring balance, picked out in the chandeliers and many smaller items, including a flamingo and cockatoo.
Moving back into the study is a totally different experience to the first two rooms. Previously just a beige walk-through room, it’s been transformed into a bright and welcoming space. Original floorboards replace the dingy carpet and are painted mustard yellow, which is mirrored by the ceiling above. Blush pink walls bring some fun, while the cork board is a place for creativity to happen, filled with ideas and inspiration. Further items of note are the inventive upcycled cot side, which is used as a rack for Evie’s fabrics and the pink Mustard Made locker – one of a number of items Evie has won in competitions over the years.
Struck by the use of colour in the house, I ask Evie if she has always loved bright colours. She explains, “I’ve actually always preferred dark tones. I’ve never really been comfortable using colour that much. But something changed when I did my course and it opened me up to all these shades which I had never used before.”
Moving back into the landing we come into the final bedroom and the lighter of the two guest rooms, this time with a tropical theme. “I had a tropical bedroom in my last house and I really liked it, so I wanted to do it again, but this time on a bolder scale.” An upcycled chest of drawers has been given a new lease of life with some chalk paint and fabric to match the curtains.
“The hallway is the best place to make a dramatic impression. You want people to say wow, but it’s not necessary that they like it”
Moving downstairs we enter the lounge/cocktail room and it’s every bit as wonderful as upstairs. The walnut cocktail cabinet is the hub of the room, a place where Evie can occasionally be seen enjoying a piña colada or an espresso martini – she confesses, “I just love anything sweet.” Cole & Son’s wallpaper continues the tropical vibes, while the teal ceiling is a further homage to peacocks. Evie explains, “I love teal because it’s rich yet cosy, bright in the day and warming at night.” Going further into the room the living area is furnished with a striking leopard print footstool from Cult Furniture, while both sofas are second hand bargains freshened up with some new covers. Behind the sofas a wooden bureau from Evie’s last home has been given a new lease of life to match the decor of the new, this time it’s deep navy with gold leaf.
Moving into the kitchen and the final room of the house, Evie has refreshed the existing units with colour, lots of colour. It’s bookended with Jes Rose terrazzo vinyl, giving a lovely pink marble effect which works rather well. The colour scheme is the same as the hallway but with a different blue, which took some adjusting to. “I hated it initially,” she explains. “It took me hours to do and then when I finished I really wasn’t happy. But I let it settle and after a few days I got used to it – now I really love it.”
Tour complete, Evie and I start to wrap up. I’m really impressed with what she has achieved. Her home is an experience for the senses. She has created some amazing spaces which really transport you into her world. She made a brave decision to follow her heart and be creative professionally, the result is that she has brought colour into her life and created a home which has launched what I’m sure will be a wonderful career. Her business is different and it feels like she may take her interior design in a new and interesting direction. Nurturing people through beautiful bedrooms and interiors matters to Evie and it feels like a valuable project which could make a real difference. These are the businesses that change the way we think and the way we do things. Who would have known that I would one day be interviewing someone on a screen and getting a tour of their house. Maybe soon we’ll all be improving our homes and relationships, all at the same time.
- words: Damien Pestell
- pictures: David Merewether
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