As interior designer and maximalist extraordinaire Siobhan Murphy releases her new book, Bethan Andrews sits down to chat all things bold and Yorkshire
For Siobhan Murphy, the Castleford-based finalist of Interior Design Masters and the woman who has become widely known for her maximalist approach to interiors, it’s been something of a crazy few years. From getting to the finals in the popular TV programme to growing a huge social media following and fanbase, today Siobhan has entirely left her corporate career in the NHS behind her and is now designing full-time.
It’s not surprising to find out that Siobhan has a background studying fashion and art at Leeds College of Art, given that so much of her interiors style relies on a careful curation of this. A woman of many talents, she’s also a trained milliner and jewellery maker. “Throughout everything, I’ve always had this passion for fashion. But, in the last few years, I started getting into interiors,” she explains. “I got Abigail Ahern’s book and I booked onto her one-day course talking about their interior design journey and hints and tips. I came away with lots of inspiration, but the biggest thing was to do my own thing and to not follow the rules.”
From here, Siobhan found herself going home and changing her entire house, experimenting with colour and artwork. It was the perfect stepping stone to buying her infamous art deco house, where she has been for three years and has documented her creative interior design journey to her 110,000 followers on Instagram. It was also ger route on to TV. “I just thought, this is a house that I can go wild in with my creative side,” she smiles. “It was around this time that I had a message from the casting people on Interior Design Masters. I got the call to say I’d be one of ten designers on the show, which was just crazy.”
Siobhan is grateful for the “thrown-in-at-the-deep-end” experience that the show offered her and how many doors it opened for her afterwards. “Being on the show gave me lots of confidence and experience,” she smiles. “As an amateur designer, it gives you the chance to do all different types of interior design such as shops, restaurants, bars and houses. It opened so many doors for me and, on the day the final aired, I handed in my notice at work which was a huge step for me. I’ve never looked back!”
It’s been a year since then and Siobhan is going from strength to strength, with her approaches to design only affording her a bigger, brighter and more beautiful future. Her career now varies between interior design for clients and people’s homes, styling jobs, brand and marketing work with companies on Instagram, and even working on TV, too. Siobhan designed the offices for Steph’s Packed Lunch in Leeds, where she does a regular interiors presenting slot on the show, too. Currently, she’s designing her own wallpaper range, and she’s been approached to design a collection with Freemans, which will be a 50-piece collection of products designed from scratch. “It’s so exciting to think that products I design will be able to be seen in people’s homes,” she says.
Clearly, she’s loving being kept busy. “It never really feels like work despite working more hours now than I did for the NHS,” smiles Siobhan. “I love it and it just feels exactly like what I should be doing. I’m a bit of a rule breaker, so it’s much better now that I work for myself and it feels really freeing. It’s been exciting saying yes to things that are out of your comfort zone and it’s brought me a lot more confidence and helped me to grow as a person.”
Speaking of rule breaking, Siobhan has really pioneered an interiors world that negates the play-it-safe, neutral aesthetic that dominates Instagram. In fact, many people credit her with changing the way that they look at interiors, in just the way that Abigail Ahern did for Siobhan in the beginning, too. “I’m a real believer with going with your gut, decorating with your heart and not worrying about what other people are going to think,” she says. “If it makes you happy, that’s the most important thing, so be bolder and braver. Take a step back and think about what colours, patterns and prints are you really drawn to and look at your wardrobe for help with this. Your ideas become diluted if you second guess yourself. Trends come and go, whereas your style is going to have more longevity.”
Naturally, Siobhan’s debut book is all about this. The book, called More is More, is out this month and is a celebration of all things maximalist, colourful and joyful in interiors. “The book itself is split up into different chapters talking about things such as colour and how you can use them in your home and the symbolism behind patterns, too,” she explains. “I also look at maximalists of the past, so people that have really inspired me, and also maximalists from today. I call it a handbook for maximalists, but it’s really for anyone who is into interior design.”
I wonder if Siobhan feels her success is helping to champion a design industry in the north. “I often get messages to say that it’s quite refreshing to see a successful interior designer from Yorkshire who is relatable and normal,” she smiles. “People think you’ve got to be really posh to hire an interior designer. I don’t use big fancy words or make out that everything is costing millions of pounds. I’m realistic and I’m happy to go to the charity shop, the car boot sale and to upcycle pieces.”
And, when it comes to the north, where does Siobhan tend to head for design inspiration? “I’m always going to Redbrick Mills, it’s a really great place for gorgeous furniture and beautiful lighting,” she says. “The surrounding areas in Yorkshire and the beautiful natural colour palettes that surround the buildings here are inspiring to reflect in designs. I take inspiration from the Yorkshire countryside, so the browns, greens, mustards and the leaves. We’ve got so much beautiful countryside. It’s always nice to bring those colours into the interiors.”
More is More Décor by Siobhan Murphyis out now RRP £25 (Studio Press)