Dec 08, 2022
Ecohardwood talks to... interior designer Laura Porter.
Having been creative and passionate since childhood, Laura Porter studied interior design and architecture at Nottingham Trent University before gaining experience at a retail design firm in London. For the past 13 years, Laura has worked from her home studio in Basingstoke, Hampshire. "I started my own business when I became a mum and no longer felt that a career in a big London agency would be convenient for our family. I now have a teenage son and a teenage business," she smiles.
From renovations of small rooms to space planning for newly constructed homes, Laura Porter Interior Design studio offers a wide range of services. "Each project and customer are different, so it can be quite challenging! In addition to layout designs and visuals, I produce materials boards and complete 'shopping lists, which my clients love since it gives them control over their projects".
Her love for details led Laura to invent a new concept in interior design: Scandigance. The look combines minimalistic clean Scandinavian lines and English elegance and charm. The designer has chosen engineered oak flooring to renovate her 70s home. In the cosy Scandigance home created by Laura Porter Interior Design studio, Ecohardwood flooring in Ivory colour and Nature grade plays an important role. "One of the most complimented things in our home is flooring. It is full of texture and colour, but it remains quite neutral", says the interior designer.
The shoes are off at Laura Porter's family home: "Walking barefoot on real wood is such a wonderful sensory experience. There's nothing quite like it. I encourage all to make planet-friendly choices as much as possible. I love the idea of oak flooring being sustainable wood flooring; it's really important to me.".
- You have chosen Ecohardwood wood flooring for the renovation of your family home. We would like to hear more about this project and its idea.
- For the flooring, I wanted something very light and clean. The ivory wood flooring colour was the perfect choice for my design approach, which I coined a new phrase for – Scandi-gance is Scandinavian meets classic elegance of English shaker with some crisp contemporary details. The flooring is so light and bright but is a joy to see and feel in our bare feet, all the beautiful natural grain and texture that comes through. It is one of the details of the project that receives the most compliments. My goal was to create a bright and light space, with large windows, that feels safe, comfortable, and supportive for the family.
- The oak flooring is Nature grade in Ivory colour. What are the interior design elements that work with this style of flooring?
- I like clean lines and bold architectural statements but with pops of colour and texture. I'm a huge fan of Scandinavian style, but I put my spin on it because I don't like everything being beige, grey, black and white. I used an intense light and dark approach, contrasting warm off-whites and stone hues with deep charcoals and rich blacks. Black with a hint of another colour work beautifully. You can add crafted panelling, tongue and groove or shiplap cladding details, ribbed glass, woven cane, and rattan.
This is my way of bringing some of our Englishness into my home, something that makes my heart sing. There is something quite elegant about old panelled English interiors, patterned glass, and reflective mirrors. I wanted to combine that rusticity with Scandi-style materials.
- What factors do you consider when choosing flooring for your projects?
- When choosing for my clients, I know they will have various concerns, from flooring durability (mainly where children and pets are concerned) to budget. In most projects, I encourage the use of engineered oak planks. As a sustainable, planet-friendly product, it's a winner for me. Honestly, nothing feels quite as wonderful as walking barefoot on real wood, it's such a lovely sensory experience, so I ask my clients to think about where their budget priorities lie versus the overall satisfaction of the finished room.
Wood flooring still carries a lot of myths and nervousness. People should embrace all the qualities wood floors have to offer. Many still believe that wood shrinks, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. But ships were built from this stuff! The flooring won't remain pristine. There will always be chips, stains, and marks, but that's all the more reason to choose something that ages beautifully, like natural oak wood. There is a little dent on the floor where one of my son's toy cars fell, but I don't mind that since it just adds to the character.
- In the overall home design, what role does the floor play?
- This is the only part of a room that everyone will always come into contact with, and so for me, it is the first material I consider in the design of any space. I view walls, ceilings, and floors as envelopes and containers for everything that follows. Any room, any project, I look at those things first; they ground everything else. However, I tell people to ignore the colour of the walls until we're far along in the process. Let's figure out right now what floor will work best for you in this space.
- What should homeowners consider before deciding on a type of flooring for their home?
- I encourage them to make sensible choices about what they're spending money on. The floor will hold the whole room together, so I advise to plan your budget and invest in flooring before anything else.
I love that Ecohardwood manufactures flooring and takes responsibility for sustainability and forestry management seriously. When I received samples, I was so pleased with the quality and colouration that we took the plunge and committed to purchasing enough flooring for our entire ground floor renovation.
- Do you have any tips or advice for anyone considering a building or renovating a house?
- Like any aspect of your life that you feel 'unqualified' to deal with, hiring a professional ultimately pays huge dividends. Clients have told me how I was the 'best money spent on their project' I have saved them time and prevented them from making expensive mistakes. Hiring an interior designer will hopefully open you up to new ideas that will elevate the finished space to something special!
- While running your interior studio, what are some of the most important lessons you learned?
- Taking the time to listen to my clients and understanding their aspirations and goals for their homes. Sometimes you need to be a part psychologist to really 'hear' what you are being told and sometimes what you are not! Also, marrying the aims of not one but two people in a couple can become the biggest challenge! No day is the same, no client is the same, and no project is the same. The great thing about this job is that it never gets boring.
- Which architecture/interior design elements are your favourites?
- I love the trends we see for highly detailed and textural materials in the home. I love a bit of ribbed/fluted glass and decorative mouldings that lift details like door fronts or cornicing. But more generally, I love to let the light in, so my heart sings when I walk into a space designed with big panoramic views out onto a garden or green space!
- And are there any trends that you hope will never come back?
- I was not too fond of copper polished metalwork and accessories. These were big for a while ago in the 90s and Noughties. It seemed a bit fake to me. After all, real copper will age to a green patina (far nicer, in my opinion!) I am also glad to see that the old trend of a matching 3-piece suite has gone, and now we are enlightened enough to realise that a sofa and armchair (which offer completely different seating postures) do not have to look the same!
- The top productivity tools that help you achieve your goals?
- I keep my drawing hand well exercised! There is nothing more vital than to be able to quickly hand sketch ideas on paper right in front of my clients. So, I keep that practice alive but use SketchUp software to enable a more accurate version of my design ideas. Also, social media can be a great resource. Due to the visual nature of interior design, social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have been helpful to me and my business.
- What was the best compliment your project ever received?
- Over the years, I have had clients who have reached out following quite difficult personal circumstances and have felt in real need of a home that made them feel supported and safe. When people like this have told me that my designs had enabled them to love their home and come home to it feeling happy, I feel quite proud! I'm not a rocket scientist or a medical practitioner, but if I can help make someone's life that bit happier, I am so glad that my work is worth it!
- Where do you look for interior design advice and inspiration?
- I love the podcast The Great Indoors by Sophie Robinson and Kate Watson Smyth, their lighthearted and often hilarious take on all things interiors makes me smile. I have also subscribed to Elle Decoration magazine since I was in college and use this as my benchmark of aspirational design!
- When you're not working on your, how do you like spending your time?
- I am still the same 4-year-old girl who told everyone she wanted to be an artist, so whenever I have any free time on holiday or the occasional weekend, it's often spent drawing, painting or making. The joy now is sharing Art and Craft time with my two sons (13 and 10), who are also beginning to show a real passion for the creative mediums we dabble in together.
Learn how to create the Scandigance style >>
Get in touch with Laura Porter Interior Design: www.lauraporter.co.uk