Recently we got to immerse ourselves in the lovely world of Julie Bliss, of Bliss Interiors. As an architectural designer, she is responsible for the design, styling and successful planning applications of many of the beautifully renovated houses in Limpsfield and the surrounding area.
Julie Bliss has lived and worked around Limpsfield for many years. Her daughters went to Panda Nursery and Limpsfield Infant School and she has undertaken many design projects in and around Limpsfield, including the Chart Ladies Golf Club rooms and a property in the high street that dates back to Medieval times and showed evidence of a witches’ trap room!
How long have you been a designer?
All my adult life, which is a long time! After leaving school I did a three-year interior design course with an emphasis on drawing board work and later evolved into an Architectural Designer.
What made you choose this career path?
It chose me. I was a Forces child and was floored as to how dull the RAF houses were! I was always redesigning, shaping and colouring them in my mind’s eye. When I explained to the school careers teacher that I wanted to design people’s homes, he told me there was no such job and sent me for an interview with Norwich Union! There were only three interior design courses in the country at that time.
Where did you work before you set up on your own?
I worked for a company called Richard Daniels Design, whose portfolio was mainly hotels, particularly those for Olga Polizzi of for Trusthouse Forte, as it was known then.
What’s your main inspiration for architecture and design?
I love Bauhaus, with its strong horizontal sculptured lines and Frank Lloyd Wright (Falling Water). I really enjoy just walking round London’s back streets and spotting understated architecture.
What do you love most about your job?
Being lost in a design, getting to a moment where I’ve followed a client’s brief, then given that little bit more than expected.
What was your first job in Limpsfield?
My first ever freelance job (whilst building up towards Bliss Interiors) was when I worked on a luxury apartment in Stoneswood Road. I remember the client having a difficult room layout, led by an awkwardly placed window that was hard to dress. I came up with a design that the client absolutely loved and she confessed that she had neither the imagination nor the courage, but was convinced to do what I proposed and was thrilled with the outcome.
What sort of projects do you mainly work on?
I work on anything to do with a home, be it new builds, renovations and extensions, to selecting colour schemes. I have one client who has moved several times and I’ve helped her each time with everything from schemes and renovation to dressing shelves and hanging pictures.
I guess my bread and butter would be working with clients on their renovations and extensions; creating the concept, drawing and submitting planning applications to council. I also do quite a lot of draughting up and submitting applications that clients have basically come up with themselves, but need help fine-tuning them and getting their thoughts onto paper. It’s very important that I listen closely and carefully to correctly interpret what my clients are asking for.
Is submitting plans to council a bit of a headache?
No, actually! Most of the time it isn’t at all. This is probably due the fact I’ve worked in the area for a long time and I know what’s acceptable and what isn’t. But I have to say that working with Tandridge Council’s planning department is generally a pleasure. They are really helpful and supportive and genuinely want to help people get their plans through – as long as they’re in keeping with the area and not going to cause huge offence, obviously!
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
My most interesting project is usually the latest I’m working on. There is often a brief that may appear either impossible to meet (but I usually manage!), or slightly ordinary and needs a funky inclusion, which I usually do! There was one residential project, that included an eight-year-old boy’s rooms (he had one adjoining another). I designed the first to be decked out sailing ship theme complete with sails (curtains) and island (rug) leading through to a jungle with mural trees, monkeys and snakes and a hammock-style bed. It was great fun and I loved it – and so did he.
Is there an architectural style in the area that you particularly like?
There is a style of house in the local area that was most likely a trend with the local builder(s) of the 19th to 20th centuries. It includes brick quoins (decorative areas to corners of houses) and round openings, such as doors and windows. The corners and edges are left open then infilled with a different or more ornate stone. In later years these were sometimes rendered over and painted. Other areas of Britain do have them, but there is a definite style that is particular to this area.
What could be improved in terms of building in the area?
I get frustrated with the new-builds and why they have to be so formulaic. Of course, there are many who don’t want them in their area at all. If there’s a housing shortage, then so be it, but why do they all have to look the same?