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Style Seminar 01: soft furnishings in furnished holiday lets

How to holiday let

In February 2016, Classic held their first Style Seminar at Nancarrow Farm, Truro.

Chairman, Simon Tregoning, opened the show and our first talk was by Lindsey of Linterior Design, a small business with showrooms in Wadebridge and St Agnes specialising in bespoke soft furnishings, from cushions and colour schemes to total furniture refurbs and everything in between.

There was much to learn about decorating furnished holiday lets so whilst the ticket holders had the fun on the day, we filmed it to spread the knowledge further afield:



Other videos in this series:

Style Seminar: upcycling furnished holiday lets

Style Seminar: making the most of your holiday let



Simon: Hello everyone, think I’ve got the best place in the house next to the fire here, apologies for that! Welcome to Nancarrow and welcome to our first ever Style Seminar. I think we’ve picked the perfect venue because it’s the epitome of style – love it. Congratulations to Nancarrow for everything they’ve done. So without any more ado, I will ask Lindsey to step up… Over to you.
Lindsey: Hi everyone, I was ok about this until I knew I was being filmed, so now I am nervous but bear with me and we’ll go from there. I’m Lindsey from Linterior Design and I’ve got lots of pictures for you to look at rather than lots of text, but just to prompt me to start with: we are a small family-run business producing soft furnishings in Cornwall. We make them all in-house in our own workroom. I started it in about 2007 in retail premises but before that I worked for a property developer and before that I worked for Laura Ashley.
The business consists of retail premises in Wadebridge, so we’ve got a full set of books in the library in there and obviously there’s always someone in there Monday to Saturday. We also have the premises at home in the barn – not quite as fancy as this – so again we’ve got a full set of fabric books there. *picture* there’s our workroom *next picture* and there’s the fabric books. We’ve got about 80 brands and about 750 books I would imagine in each premises.
We’ve got about 80 fabric companies; we start entry level, like £15 a meter, right up until the Chelsea Harbour brands. I realise holiday lets have to be very practical and obviously cost is always part of that.
Our team are all in-house, we don’t out-work anything like a lot of companies in Cornwall now where it all goes up to the Midlands to factories, but ours is all hand-made in our workroom – and you can come and have a look at it if you want to.
We’ve got quite a few different clients; we do hotels obviously, and 80% of our business is holiday lets and second homes much to the locals’ disdain but it is what it is. We do country houses: we’ve done massive manor houses down to a tiny, little one-bedroom cottage in Padstow.
No window has beaten us yet. *picture* This was a massive window at Porthtowan and it’s basically a circle in a triangle – quite a feat – and it was a bedroom bizarrely so obviously you have to be able to sleep with black-out lining.
*picture* This is a recent one we’ve done in a big manor house. These curtains I think are about a 5m drop or something crazy. *picture* This is a holiday let we’ve recently done near Trebetherick I think. The interesting fact is – I don’t know how many of you have coastal properties – the architects are either obsessed with putting in triangles or massive glazed windows, so a lot of the windows we’re doing at the moment are on a Silent Gliss Wave system which basically means you can span – I think we’ve done a 40m curtain – and they just glide very easily.
Little bit of residential, just some before and after’s – everyone always loves these. *picture* This was the same kitchen before and after quite simply, *picture*, and another shot of the kitchen. Again, even relevant to holiday let, it’s a Howden’s kitchen – it doesn’t have to be a £30,000 handmade kitchen. I think importantly if you have nice tiles and nice worktops you can really change the look of a kitchen – and that is definitely a Howden’s one, I know that.
*picture* And again, before and after with bathrooms. I think the important thing is to keep things nice and plain. That suite was actually from Trago Mills. So again, it doesn’t have to be Villeroy & Boch. We understand that everyone has a constraint of budget. *picture* Again, a sitting room before and after.
*picture* Ok so these are just a few different shots. Again, very affordable fabric, lots of nice, squishy cushions – these are some holiday apartments we did. Again, it hasn’t got to be crazy money, these are all very affordable, lovely fabrics. So we can do headboards, we do cushions, bed-runners, lampshades, lots of wallpaper. *about picture* That isn’t photoshop, that’s actually a real view, so that is super amazing. Okay, and there’s another view.
*picture* This was quite interesting as we tend to do very country or very coastal. This was actually at the Ideal Home show, it’s a kit house 5.54 that they bought and put on a plot, at Rock I think, and they were very brave and went for very brave alternate lines. But I think it looks great.
*picture* Again, another amazing holiday let, Polzeath, looking straight out over the sea – £18 a meter fabric but made up I think it looks fantastic. Again, another one we’ve done – I’ll just flick through a couple for you.
Ok, interestingly – I don’t know if any of you have shepherds huts, but we’ve had two or three in the last couple of weeks come in so I think these people actually have two cottages and I think they’re finding it can be an additional room or bed, so we’ve done quite a few of these.
Guest: They’re [shepherd’s huts] on the Archers, on radio 4
Lindsey: Yeah well maybe it’s starting a new trend but they are absolutely amazing what they can fit into these little shepherd huts.
Simon: We have a little brand called Classic Glamping as well, so Lindsey will do the interior for you and we’ll rent it for you. It’s going really well and in terms of return on investment glamping is quite hot but it’s a quite a good proposition, so if you want to talk to us about glamping you can do that as well. That’s the timeshare over!
Lindsey: I mean, from what I gather, they literally come fitted out other than the window dressings and what you put in the crockery and everything – they’re really good. I think this is a company in Devon.
*picture* Again, this is another really nice holiday let out on the Roseland. We do cover all of Cornwall, we’re coast to coast – everywhere. *picture* These are just examples of some really nice curtains. Again, I just think that if you put it on a nice pole it makes such a difference, no harm to B&Q or Homebase. *picture* Again this is another Silent Gliss Wave system. It’s a huge expanse and the runners are in the bottom of the pole but you don’t get such a massive stack back. Although that is one curtain going one way, that usually would be split into two.
*picture* And again, another little holiday cottage recently in St Ives. Very, very plain but with headboards, cushions and lampshades that photographs beautifully in a brochure. *picture* And again some more examples of different roman blinds.
Ok, something really interesting that you should all know about. As of February 2014 a new law was brought out for chains, whether it be a roman or roller blind. It’s the BSEN13120. Anything fitted before that date is okay, anything after the date has to be safe. The only thing I would say as you are all renting commercial properties I would really think about your chain situation. So there’s a couple of things – I’ve got to do it in the right order – two things have changed. Obviously it’s due to child ligature and obviously I’m guessing most of you have children in your lets. First of all, the back of the roller blind has a toggle now, so if the child gets its head stuck in here, the toggle obviously stays here so you don’t have a choking hazard but it gives away. The other thing is, it’s not like a seat belt where all the brands of seatbelt work in the same way, each company that makes the blind kits have their own system so it gets quite complex. The crux of it is, the chain has to be 60cm off the floor if it has an integral breakaway. So whether it has a breakaway here or *points* that comes away. So, that one can be 60cm off the floor. If the chain doesn’t break, it has to be 150cm off the floor with a plastic lock to the wall. I would say it’s something you ought to really think about, because I think the litigation and trading standards are inspecting everybody – we’ve even heard about it in Cornwall. Feel free to have a look after.
*picture* Ok again as I mentioned earlier – lots of triangular windows, half triangles. Obviously again it’s in the bedrooms so you have to have curtains. As we make everything off templates we know that’s no problem. *picture* Again, just a couple more holiday lets – just lots of different fabrics, headings…
Ok, I’m not going to touch on this much obviously because we’ve got a lovely lady here who’s going to. This was actually one of our customers who was recently divorced, had loads of furniture given to her. It was dark and it was pine and everything, and we just painted it all and I think it looks fantastic. It’s a really good way to make all your stuff cohesive, so all the dark and the pine might all be screaming but painted and all tonal colours looks great… But I’m not going to say much because we’ve got a lady there.
*picture* Again this is another little holiday let we did near Wadebridge (Pawton Mill Cottage (2359)). Really cute in a mill, and we also offer an upholstery service, so that red cushion there is fixed upholstery. *picture* This is just a cookery school – Philleigh Way – I don’t know if anyone’s heard of it out on the Roseland. It’s my brother-in-law, George, so we did his blinds with safety chains (even in the kitchen). So interestingly, even above the kitchen worktop they have to be 140cm off the floor. So, you can imagine in some circumstances, before this school was invented, they had to be locked. You’d be trying to climb up and on occasion you had to say you can’t fit a blind here today.
We offer a moodboard service but I’ll touch more on that in a minute – just lots of different photos there. We offer a free measure and fitting service, so my husband does all the measuring – obviously we cover all of Cornwall. We do that because the only time things are made the wrong size, with all due respect, it’s usually the customer’s measurements. It’s thinking about tiles in recesses that you’ve got to take into account and we cover all sized projects – so just one window or we can do a whole house.
So we have another string to our bow now; our daughter has a degree in architectural interior design. She’s now offering – we found that there were a lot of people coming in saying can you do bathrooms, can you do this – we’ve measured a hundred windows in the last two weeks, so we simply haven’t got time. We can now pass that over to her.
So these are our top tips for holiday accommodation. I mean as you all know now, everyone googles and everyone looks on the computer, Instagram, Facebook… we update our account every day. A picture speaks a thousand words and that spot decision, you know, people are going to click you or not really. So some of our top tips, you might agree or disagree, but this is what we find. We get a lot of feedback from owners when we’re out, doesn’t matter who they are or what they do, the décor is so important.
I’d say plain bedlinen. You know, gone are the days of Dorma curtains and matching bedspreads and everything. It’s just less is more, you know, concentrate on the things you can change and keep everything else plain. What we do encourage is a coordinated scheme; so for instance, have your curtains in the boats, and maybe your cushions in the stripe and maybe something else in the shell, you know, lampshades, rather than to feel you have to have everything in the boats – it’s just a little less contrived really.
As I’ve mentioned before, lots of plain walls, with or without a feature wall. People now are really expecting a home from home; they’re expecting to come on holiday and have everything. And you know, as much as I love Cornwall, and obviously you can note I am Cornish, when it’s raining for weeks on end and they’re in the holiday let they want to be comfortable. They want to have cushions and feel like they’re at home. Painted or lightwood furniture I think, unless it’s an old hall or something, it just gives you a nicer look and it photographs so nicely.
As I mentioned before, even if it is a really entry level kitchen, as long as you’ve got some nice tiles and worktops it can really improve the look of it. I think you’ve got to be truthful with your décor. Particularly a hotel will find this; they’ll do up 30 rooms then someone turns up to the 31st room that’s not done. You know, the same with a holiday let, you might have 3 rooms, 2 of which you’ve just refurbed, but then there’s the one that’s not. So I think you’ve just got to be very truthful and photograph everything.
Quality fixtures; they can be the Range, the Range do some amazing mirrors and bits, but if you’re going to spend your money, spend it on things that look nice and on quality fixtures. So, pictures, mirrors, lamps and curtain poles, you know, they make such a difference.17.38 And again, plain bathrooms, that includes sometimes tiling – less is more. If you want to bring in colour and pattern, bring it in maybe in your towels.
So, our top tips to avoid: busy tiling;
Leandra: probably like the days of farmhouse kitchens when you’ve got ten different colours and tiles and it all becomes a little bit too much, and then your whole scheme is around looking at the tiles and you have to bring it in around that. So, I think those days perhaps are gone.
Lindsey: Too much wood, I think, I have been – not any of yours – I did another talk once for a national thing and we were looking through and you know, there was wooden floors, and wooden bits on the sofa, and a wooden kitchen and wooden skirts (? Skirting boards?) and it was just like this feast of wood and you just couldn’t look and you thought it looked hard and cold. Painted wood maybe.
Cheap cushions is my pet-hate. I know you can go to Asda or Homebase or anywhere and buy hollow fibre cushions and a) they don’t photograph very well, they look absolutely horrendous in photos and b) again, for your customers, they’re not really comfy. Customers want to squish into a nice feather cushion, take away obviously allergies.
Try and not over coordinate; another thing we quite often see is red curtains with red cushions and red salt and peppers, and all so much and it’s just too much, and you know, I just think sometimes it needs breaking up.
I think a great thing to get inspiration from is your Boutique Retreats those properties are great.
Simon: And Classic!
Lindsey: Yeah! But because they were handpicked, it’s almost…
Simon: It’s more extreme
Lindsey: Yes and it gives you inspiration to look at those photos and think what have those people done. We welcome any questions and if you can and see us we have two little resident sausage dogs. So they’re either usually in the shop and/or the show room with us. If you’ve got any questions really or have we covered anything?
Guest: Where did you say to get inspiration from, I didn’t quite hear?
Lindsay: Well any of your properties really. I think even if you get on to Classic and look through. I mean, I don’t know which are any of your properties but I’m guessing you know, and you know as the company, I’m guessing the better booked properties are the ones with amazing décor… and wifi obviously. But not necessarily a whirlpool (hot tub)…
Simon: No, you’re right, it’s an emotional decision. If you capture the emotion, and what you’ve just said about pictures, pictures, pictures… It’s the difference between buying a house and a renting a house. Our customers spend thousands of pounds perhaps off a few pictures. Might be 20/30 pictures, but they’re pictures and that’s where they’re buying from. So the photogeneity is the difference between a holiday home and something you’re buying for yourself. It’s how you make the appear like the photograph. Always photograph the property and look at it on camera, and say how is that going to feel, because on print or on screen that’s how your customers are going to be viewing it.
Lindsey: Any other questions? Have I scared you all with the blind safety?
Guest: Is there anything you particularly do with pet-friendly accommodation?
Lindsey: I suppose with pet-friendly accommodation – the big thing is the floors. You know, if you’ve got tiles or wood…
Leandra: Perhaps more durable fabric…
Lindsey: We understand; we know a holiday let, especially one booked 40 plus weeks, is going to get an absolute hammering. It’s just a fact, it really does. Just everything durable I would have said. Nobody asked me the question I got asked last time… “Why are all the cushions on the bed?” this guy kept saying, “where do you put the cushions when you get in the bed?”, and I was like “just on a chair”. He asked me like five times and I was like I’ve never thought about where you put them.
Simon: It’s a male thing
Lindsey: It’s a man thing. It is.
Guest: We find them all over the place, stuffed in the back of wardrobe, all over the place
Lindsey: Anything else anyone? I mean obviously after come and have a look at the blind thing and I can talk to you in a little bit more detail and maybe go from there, but thank you very much.


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