Interior stylist and writer Cate St Hill took a leap and turned her passion into her day job. Now Cate spends her days inspiring others with her popular UK blog, sharing simple design for everyday living. We visited Cate’s recently transformed, scandi-inspired terrace house in South London, where Cate chatted to us about her growing business. We also snuck in some cheeky cuddles with Francis the Dachshund.
How did you get into Interior Design?
I studied architecture at UCL in London and then worked for two years in an architectural practice. But I soon found that it wasn’t for me, my passion was always interiors, so I then decided to go into journalism and write about design.
How did you come to start your blog?
When I was working at a magazine, I saw an opportunity online to have a space of my own. I could see the magazine world changing and the online world becoming more important. This realisation encouraged me to start my blog!
At the beginning I wasn’t really sure what it was about, it didn’t really have a focus and I was just writing about anything that took my fancy. Over the years I’ve developed my own personal style and a passion for simple interior design.
Two years ago, I moved into this house and I started blogging about the makeover projects; the before and afters. People really responded to that because they were doing up their own homes and wanted ideas and it sort of developed and took off from that!
What a fun way to turn your everyday actions and project into inspiration for others!
How would you describe your interior design style?
My style is very simple and pared back with the walls of the space becoming the neutral backdrop for everything else to tell the story with all the things that make a house a home. I prefer very neutral, light colours, which make a space feel very calm and relaxing. I want my home to be a quiet retreat and a sanctuary to come back to at the end of the day.
Yes, your home is beautiful! Tell us a bit about it.
When we bought the house, it was definitely in need of some TLC. It had been used as a rental and it hadn’t had much love in a while. All the rooms were very brightly coloured and there were elements from the 70’s and 80’s, which were just not in keeping with the period of the property. I wanted to bring it back to its bones and former glory! We striped everything away, knocked down the wall between the kitchen and living room and put a new kitchen in. It felt quite dark, so we painted the floors white and the walls a light grey to make the space feel bright and airy.
We have been doing it one room at a time. It’s been quite a slow, long process. I think sometimes you only know what to do in a space once you’ve lived in it and see how you use it everyday. We created one big open space, where we can invite friends over. I love the connection between the spaces. When someone is in the kitchen, you can still be chatting to someone on the sofa. It’s a more sociable place. In our last flat, we had a small galley kitchen separate from other rooms. When you were in there, you felt like you were completely cut off from everything else.
And your blog has now transformed into a platform for providing interior design services along with your own renovation inspirations?
I call myself more of a consultant than a designer because I don’t deal with builders or contractors on site. I give the homeowners all the tools to bring their concept to life. I’ll do everything from sourcing pieces of artwork and furniture, to a full makeover. I’ll give them the concept, mood boards, the plans and shopping lists to ensure they have everything they need. I combine the spatial planning from studying architecture with my experience of being a design journalist and knowing where to shop and find things.
That sounds like all the fun bits of renovating! Is this a growing aspect of Cate St Hill?
Yes, it’s going really well! I am gaining more projects, but I am quite selective with them because I want them to be right and work with my style. I’ve got one in Shoreditch, which is two spare bedrooms. And I’ve just finished one in Clapham, which was a complete renovation of a three-bedroom maisonette. When a project does come along, I put everything into it, which means the blog can get side lined a bit. It’s quite good to be flexible and adaptable. I can change what I am doing from day to day.
We’ve noticed that you have a smaller furry partner in your design efforts? Francis must be the best work companion!
I’ve always wanted my own dog; I grew up with them. As soon as I went freelance, nearly 2 years ago, I was like, right we are getting a dog! We got him when he was 8 weeks old. He is just a lovely companion when I am working from home. He gets me out of the house for walks and some fresh air in between working. Otherwise, I would be staring at the screen all day! He is a good city dog because you can take him anywhere; into bars, pubs and shops. He likes to be with me ALL the time. He is a big cute distraction to my work and sometimes a little hot water bottle, sitting on my lap.
Currently, What is inspiring you and your designs?
How I normally get inspiration is by getting out of house. Going to exhibitions, restaurants or traveling to new cities and staying in hotels. I don’t like taking inspiration from only Pinterest and Instagram. I take it from the décor, textures and colours I experience in the real world. I take inspiration from the colours of the city and the roofscape of London. You can probably see the inspiration through the greys and beiges in my living room.
Where can readers find you?
Cate wears the Joyce in Cherry Blossom.