Ecohardwood met Maria Chandler, founder of Hertfordshire-based studio BECOME Interiors.  

The daughter of Italian parents grew up in a North London suburb and was always fascinated by nature, spending a lot of time outside foraging mushrooms or walking in the woods. Four years ago, she founded BECOME Interiors to bring characterful, joyous interior design inside homes. Inspired by nature and a lover of colour and pattern, Maria encourages people to be braver with their choices so that their homes and rooms are places they enjoy spending time in.
 



 

- Your interiors are very colourful. Have you always been a fan of colours?

- The work I do with clients is very much about them and their style, but the touch I like to add is to be colourful, informal, and always nature-inspired. The fact that I spent a lot of time in the gardens and woodlands as a child somehow carried over and inspired me later in life in terms of colours, textures, and patterns.

As a teenager, I always liked black or purple. It's rare to see me in those colours now. I love colourful places. Colours energize me. Seeing something bright or being surrounded by colourful buildings gives me energy. Too much colour can seem overwhelming to some, but for me, it is uplifting.

 
Ecohardwood engineered oak flooring. Colour: Pear/3418 >>. Finish: Brushed >>. Grade: Character >> Interior: BECOME Interiors. Project in St. Albans. 

 

- You've used Ecohardwood flooring on some of your projects. What made you choose us?

- I planned to use engineered wood flooring on a house renovation project in St Albans. I researched a variety of suppliers. There were a few things I liked. The price and quality were the best I could find for an engineered floor. Great service was another plus. It was very helpful to work with someone who sent out lots of samples, was patient in understanding my clients' needs and was able to install the floor. When selecting flooring, you will spend some time with whomever you choose, so these considerations are essential. It is good to have someone who is patient, explains the product well and has a great product. Ecohardwood also offers a wide range of wood grades, shapes, and colours. All those factors together made it easy for me to choose, and I have been delighted with the service. It's an absolute joy to visit clients years later and see them still thrilled with the floor.

 
Ecohardwood engineered oak flooring. Colour: Pear/3418 >>. Finish: Brushed >>. Grade: Character >> Interior: BECOME Interiors. Project in St. Albans. 

- How important is the flooring for a home?

- It's really important. One of the major investments you will make is flooring. Since you're going to live on it, you want it to be durable so it can handle all the things of daily life. It also serves as a backdrop to everything you put into a room. People with a minimalist taste, for example, might want to invest in high-grade flooring where there are minimal or no notches because they might want a scheme that is uninterrupted, as opposed to someone who prefers an informal feel. If you have children and want to avoid cleaning up after yourself all the time, you might choose a lower-grade wood with some character and notches that can withstand family use.

The floor sets the mood for the room. This is a major purchase for your project. Choosing the right product is therefore extremely important.

 

- When your clients are choosing flooring, what are the main things you advise them to pay attention to?

 

- One thing that determines it is the amount of maintenance they are willing to provide. If you are eager to put in a little effort or perhaps be a little more careful, I will always recommend a wooden floor. It looks beautiful, never ages, and has longevity. I think it gives a home such a lovely character.

 

- Is wood flooring suitable for kitchens or bathrooms?

- It's always a matter of taste. I've always used wood in my kitchen and other projects. Talk to your supplier about whether oil or lacquered wood would be better for the finish. As long as you wipe the stain up as soon as it happens and use the appropriate products to clean the floor, it will last. Consider a lower-grade floor for your kitchen since the notches and the character in the wood will be more forgiving if you get the odd stain. I may have a more informal style than others, but I think it will happen. There will be scratches and marks even if you might be the only one who notices them.

 

- Have you noticed any new requests from homeowners or your clients? How do they differ from what they wanted in the past?

- There are always new trends emerging. When investing in your home, it is more important to focus on creating a space you love. People are discussing sustainability more and more, and I'm pleased about that. I tend to look for products that don't negatively impact the environment.

 

- Your interiors are inspired by nature. What would be your advice for those wanting to bring a bit of nature inside their home – what flooring they should choose and what décor to go with it?

- One way to achieve this is by adding texture to a room, and a wooden floor will do just that. The same idea can be applied to soft furnishings: see what things are tactile and remind you of the outdoors: fluffy cushions, natural fabrics, plants. My home is always filled with greenery. For me, having plants around references nature, and they connect your space to the outdoors. You can blur the line between your interior and exterior by putting some plants near your windows. Nature serves as a good inspiration for your colour schemes as well. Look at a beautiful bird and try to spot some of the colours it has. Nature never gets it wrong.

 

- You also are a huge fan of colours and patterns. What would be your advice/tips and tricks to those wanting colourful space without being tacky? What type of flooring goes well with the colourful interiors?

- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What works for one person may not work for another. It's just about being true to yourself and discovering what colours make you happy. It happens to be vibrant, cheerful colours that energize me. My home is full of them. If you're less daring, pick a muted colour scheme first. Try different paint colours or soft furnishings and see how you feel about them. Repainting doesn't cost a lot. Plants and flowers are the least risky way to start, just adding touches of green and colourful pops as you go.

It's all about balance. Few people will feel comfortable going crazy with the floor, walls, and furniture. You may want to opt for something more muted and calmer on your flooring if you are going for a colourful environment. Use natural, pale colours. Alternatively, you could go quite the opposite: calm on the surroundings and soft furnishings, and deep and dramatic on the floor. 


Ecohardwood engineered oak flooring. Colour: Pear/3418 >>. Finish: Brushed >>. Grade: Character >> Interior: BECOME Interiors. Project in St. Albans. 

 

- Have you got your favourite oak flooring style in terms of colours, patterns, and shades?

- For me, planks never go out of style. Long, wide wooden planks tend to work in almost any interior. Check with your supplier for recommendations. Various widths have different effects. I love herringbone when it matches the era of the property. Pattern floors go particularly well with mid-century properties. If you're not sure, plank flooring will never age and will always be a winner for me.

Color-wise, I would say it's pale to mid oak. It pairs well with most interiors. Changing floors isn't something you'll often do. It will be an investment that you'll stick with for many years. However, your decor and your walls may change over that time. Therefore, I tend to choose pale to mid oak flooring.

 
Ecohardwood engineered oak flooring. Colour: Pear/3418 >>. Finish: Brushed >>. Grade: Character >> Interior: BECOME Interiors. Project in St. Albans.


- What is your favourite colour combination?

- Red has probably been my favourite colour for a long time. I also absolutely love pink and yellow. Among my favourite combinations are tomato red, pale pink, and yellow. Colours that are dense, deep, with a pop of neon or just a little something that you wouldn't otherwise expect, are what I also enjoy.

 

- What is the most recent project you're working on?

- The property is a 1960s detached house in Saint Albans, London. There is a lot of work to be done, primarily the downstairs, including knocking down walls, putting in new walls, opening up walls for sliding and bifold doors, and installing new windows. So quite an architectural project.

 

- Thank you very much for the colourful interview.