About Kathryn

Kathryn Woodham The Interior WorkshopIt all started in the early seventies when my young husband had a very enthusiastic but woefully misguided idea to leave our newly very funkily decorated and super comfortable house in South London for the romantic draw of the North coast of Scotland.

He had got together with a similarly eccentric friend and they both concocted a plan over drinks one night to apply for a grant from the Highlands and Islands Development board to finance a new venture manufacturing dimmer switches, then a somewhat rare commodity beginning to be made available by similarly minded entrepreneurs.

Thurso was chosen for the planned destination and they set about finding property. This proved difficult as most houses were local authority rentals so they set off to find any alternative that might tempt their young wives. I have to say at this point that myself and my friend Jenny were quite naive and both brought up to respect our husbands and for the most part acquiesce to their decisions.

After a somewhat fruitless search it was decided that we would travel the coast road and find a spot that had a particularly great view of the sea and surrounding countryside – not at the time realising that the best views were the most exposed parts and inhospitable places to live in… I digress…

We found a field with the necessary requirements and managed to buy it off a farmer for £500 – no planning needed in the North of Scotland in those days..

Fast forward a year when we had managed to build a kit into a four bedroom single storey house with the aid of a few rough and ready local teenagers, I was charged with the responsibility of turning this huge shell into a warm, inviting and impressive country residence.

Sadly I have no photos as that was far down on our list of priorities, sufficient to say it was a great success.

Circumstances forced us to move back three years later where he was employed in a business building prefabricated buildings. After a few years we both decided to go it alone and start our own building business. Work was plentiful as it was now the early 80’s and drink driving crackdowns in 1981 meant that pubs were establishing motel units in their grounds to get wedding bookings for large groups to be able to stay after consuming copious amounts of alcohol without the risk of being breath tested.

This inevitably meant I became involved in making the interiors enticing enough to attract maximum take up. Apart from quickly becoming aware of the health and safety laws and fire fafety requirements to be compliant, I quickly researched how the very best hotel bedrooms were furnished and set out to replicate that on a tight budget.

We now needed an office as were expanding in to larger projects. I found a building to lease that had a shop let at the front, and office behind we could use, and a flat above which was also let, thereby giving us rent free accommodation … this lasted two months. The renters of the antique shop at the front did a moonlight flit one night without paying the rent leaving the shop empty and somewhat needing attention.

The country was in recession with high interest rates and it was very unlikely for us to be able to relet the shop. After some sleepless nights it was decided that I would take over the shop and try and make it work selling interior accessories and offering a curtain and blind making service as well as some furniture. I teamed up with my friend Helena who I found out had previously worked for a sofa bed company and became an invaluable partner in the shop.

The following years were a happy time full of ups, downs and laughter and could easily be turned into a sitcom. Apart from our struggles we were situated across the road from a mental asylum and we had regular visits from day release patients. It was sometimes challenging to tell who was who but usually could be guessed as they would be with a carer who would pretend not to be with them to give them as much independence as possible. By that time there were four of us including my daughter and every day was a joy.

We were successful enough to be in business there for 20 years, expanding in to the back office and pushing our building business upstairs into the now vacated flat.

Meanwhile I had established a workforce with trades and workrooms we still use today. The experience over these years was boundless as at the same time I became involved in investing and refurbishing property, both for myself and others, also furnishing show homes and consulting with developers. This involved copious amounts of planning and project management where the skills I had learned in our building business were invaluable.

Fast forward again and I find myself going solo and leaving the building partnership. A chance weekend in the south of France heralded my foray in into buying and developing apartments in Cannes over the next fifteen years. I had also moved out of the shop in West Wickham and into a very pretty bijou building set on Platform Two at my local railway station in Woldingham, Surrey.

A very happy fourteen years later I still have a well established Interior Design business working mainly locally in Kent, Surrey and the South East.

The purpose of the above has been to outline my credentials and long experience in both the building trade and interior design. I am now taking on more consultancy and offering a mentoring service for young or inexperienced Interior Designers starting out or wanting support in what can sometimes be a very lonely place. I help with trouble shooting and all the unexpected problems that arise with projects that no amount of technical learning and diplomas can give you.

If you would like any further information please feel free to call me on 07956 291530. Kathryn