When it comes to creating a stylish home it’s definitely all in the detail…

When it comes to creating a stylish home it's definitely all in the detail...
Claire Bromley


Everyone dreams about switching careers and six months into my maternity leave last year I felt like I needed to think about something other than changing nappies and baby massage classes! I’d been wanting to do an interior design course for years and I realised I had a chance to do so online. It was great as it meant I could fit it around my baby daughter.

Three months into the diploma, I was hooked and realised how much I wanted to create the dream career for myself, and a business and brand I could call my own. I chose to give up my career in PR and the London commute in order to set up Claire Alexandra Designs.

It’s all in the detail. I think people tend to assume interior design is only accessible to the very wealthy, and so my business is all about overturning that perception. My services range dramatically in budget (starting at just £60) and I work with many high street suppliers in order to offer an affordable, accessible approach to design.

I am also very conscious of reflecting my clients’ style and personality in my designs. My own personal design style doesn’t necessarily come into it!

Flexibility is the key thing I enjoy most about running my own business. It means I can work from home, but also from absolutely anywhere. I have the freedom to be there for my daughter now, and I will do in the long term when she’s at school. It’s great not having to answer to anyone and I love the feeling that I am in charge of my own destiny.

There are challenges, of course, like working constantly but because I enjoy what I do so much, it’s not really a problem. I know that the more I put into the business in these early days, the more I will get out, and so it’s hard to switch off.

The other key challenge is not having that steady income every month; not knowing how much I’ll be bringing in each month takes a bit of getting used to. And having to do my own tax returns!

I love being able to advise clients. Seeing and hearing their reaction when the design concept becomes a reality is such a fantastic reward for all the hard work that goes into a project. I love it when clients push themselves to choose a scheme they would never have dreamt of themselves and perhaps wouldn’t have the confidence to choose on their own.

So far I’ve stuck to private commissions but I would absolutely love the opportunity to tackle a corporate project as I know it would bring its own challenges and new learnings that come with that.

Social media has been absolutely vital. Facebook has been the one platform that has landed me almost all of my work to date. It’s the perfect way to reach my target audience, especially in the local area, and as such it has been invaluable to me.


Online is my main area of inspiration – Instagram and Pinterest in particular. I follow hundreds of stylists, bloggers, suppliers and designers who all inspire me daily.

I love Elle Deco magazine and browsing my favourite stores. It’s not just about interiors either, I gain inspiration from fashion and beauty – I find all three industries are interlinked.

When it comes to the key elements that make a stylish home, it’s definitely all in the detail. Little things such as cupboard handles, the trim around tiling or an additional cushion or two all work together to create that special, unique finish that ties a scheme together.

Lighting is key too, it affects the colour tones in a room and makes all the difference to the overall feeling. When used cleverly, lighting can make or break the whole ambience of a space.

I’m working on a Victorian property currently and I love enhancing the beautiful details in the woodwork, the high ceilings and the shape of the windows and then mixing in contemporary pieces to give a scheme a modern twist. 

Claire’s home hacks

  1. Adding a rug can really lift a room. Even if it’s already carpeted, don’t be afraid to throw a rug down! It adds texture and warmth whilst being a great way to bring a touch of pattern and colour into a space.
  2. Don’t be afraid to experiment with wallpaper. It’s another great way to bring pattern and colour into a plain, dull space. If you don’t want to paper an entire wall, see if there are any items of furniture you could paper, such as cupboard doors, or you could pop a piece in frames on the wall.
  3. Plants always bring a room to life. If you don’t think you can keep them alive, it’s worth investing in a few fake ones, there are so many gorgeous ones out there that look like the real thing, no one will ever know.

Claire’s little black book

I absolutely love Homesense. I like how you walk in there, never knowing what you’re going to discover and the fact that if you don’t buy something there and then, you’re unlikely to see it again. It’s such a fantastically eclectic mix of beautiful items, in all different styles; there’s something to suit everyone’s taste. And it’s incredible value!

I am a huge fan of the Victorian properties of which there are an abundance in Tunbridge Wells. Having grown up in one, I love the detailing in the architraves and windows, the mouldings in the doors. The fireplaces and alcoves are always a fantastic natural focal point – all these details bring so much character to a space and is a great source of inspiration when designing a scheme.

My 2020 vision

More and more of the same I hope! I want to keep working hard to spread the word of my services and to continue to create beautiful spaces for the lovely people who are my clients.

I worked on the DFS furniture account for three and a half years and much of that time was spent working with interiors stylists in order to create beautiful lookbook photography in order to showcase the brand’s sofas and other furniture. I realised I had an eye for design and fell in love with interiors

Top two trends for the new year

I adore Pantone’s colour of the year, Classic Blue. It’s a versatile, calming shade yet more lively than the navy blues that have been so popular of late. I’m definitely going to be using plenty of it in my upcoming projects.

I am a huge fan of the luxury, contemporary art deco look which is hugely popular at the moment. I love the opulent, decadent feeling it exudes with plenty of metallics, plush velvet textures and deep rich colours. I like how it gives the nod to the past but with a fresh, updated, modern twist.

Why I love Tunbridge Wells: Claire Bromley

Where’s your favourite place to shop?

Probably Fenwick as it’s got a bit of everything. I spend loads of time in the café meeting friends with the kids, it’s just so convenient. The White Company is a close second, they do the most beautiful, classic homeware, as well as gorgeous clothing and beauty products. It’s great for shopping for my clients and when you’re looking for a gift.

And to eat out?

I’m a real fan of Thai food so it’s got to be the Giggling Squid. The Massaman curry is out of this world!

And for coffee or cocktails?

Hotel du Vin is perfect for a cocktail or two. I love the bar in there, particularly in winter months, it’s so cosy, plus it’s full of great memories for me.

Finally, where’s the best place to go locally in order to get away from it all?

There is so much beautiful countryside close by, we are spoilt for choice really. I’d say a lovely long walk in Ashdown Forest or a weekend away at the Pig Hotel with its cosy fireplaces and incredible restaurant would be my top choices.

Art Direction: Lee Smith | Photography: Craig Matthews

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