Designer outlet: Uplifting colour comes first for Dundee-based Saving Graces

Antonia Burnett is a Dundee-based interior designer on a mission to make home styling accessible to all. And she believes that making the best of the place you live is currently more important than ever.

Dundee townhouse living room
Dundee townhouse living room

She says: “I’m very interested in what colours can do for you, to lift your mood. It is a really important part of design and it is amazing the impact on how it can make you feel, particularly at the moment.”

Just as fashions in skirt lengths historically go up and down with the economy, Antonia believes that interior design is influenced by the mood of the nation.

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She explains: “I’ve done a lot of research into colours and how they can be uplifting, taking in considerations such as orientation and light. I’d say that is the bedrock of my design ethos.

Dundee townhouse hallway

“Many people are naturally driven towards neutrals and, in recent years, the fashion has been to use a lot of grey. But that is changing, with brighter colours coming to the fore to lift the mood.

“Clients sometimes need a bit of encouragement to choose bolder colours, but then absolutely love living with them.”

Antonia has been in business since 2010. She studied interior design at Chelsea School of Art and then worked for wallpaper designer Osborne and Little, wallpaper and fabrics company Zoffany, and The Rug Company, so got to cover the products market well.

Married to a Scot from Aberdeen, she moved to the Granite City and started work at the university there but was drawn back to interior design, launching her Saving Graces business in 2010.

Dundee townhouse bedroom

These days, most of Antonia’s work is residential and clients tend to be couples with young families, who are short on time.

She says: “Families buying a house want to invest. Styles need to have longevity – timeless design that will grow with their children – and it is important to get aspects such as the layout right at the beginning to enjoy long term.”

Working with young children means the design has to withstand family life, paint surfaces need to be wipeable and while most clients think they want wool carpets, Antonia often steers them towards polypropylene as a much more durable and cleanable option.

She adds: “Ergonomics are paramount in kitchens and bathrooms, and sometimes architects have amazing vision but an interior designer will look at more practical points.”

Dundee townhouse hall detail

Materials and furniture are sourced from a wide range of companies, at every budget. Antonia states: “I have trade accounts set up with tried and tested suppliers. I use for mid-range items or we can order a one-off bespoke piece from a company such as [Edinburgh-based] Charlotte James furniture.

She continues: “The budget comes from the client and I want to be accessible to anyone who needs help. A couple of years ago I introduced a two-hour design consultancy service. In that time, we can put together a colour palette or work out the furniture layout. It makes design accessible to all.

“I certainly want to dispel the myth that it is only for the wealthy as we can all benefit from having a well-designed home.”

Of her personal style she says: “I am definitely drawn to the more classical elements of design, such as symmetry and balance, because that brings an element of calm. But I like to incorporate more contemporary colour palettes to instill some life and dynamism.”

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