Naomi Cleaver is an interior designer with her own design practice. She is best known as one of the presenters on the TV show Grand Designs: Trade Secrets. She is currently working with Homebase to offer advice and tips to help with DIY projects. She talks about her grandmother’s letters from Clementine Churchill, Benny Hill and her love of tea >>
FTB: What gets you out of bed in the morning, coffee or tea?
NC: Most definitely tea – I like English Breakfast first thing, and during the course of the day the tea I drink gets richer and smokier. I then have several cups of Lapsang Souchong, which is my favourite. I do have a mid-morning coffee, but I always prefer a cup of tea.
FTB: City or country?
NC: Both really – I live in the countryside, which I love, but I have to be in the city for work – so I get the best of both worlds!
FTB: What would you rescue from a fire?
NC: Apart from my husband and my dog, it would be photo albums, which are very precious. I would also take some letters that my grandmother received during the war from Clementine Churchill. She owned a shop, and during the war she helped raise money for the Russian Fund. Churchill’s wife wrote thanking her, so they are rather special.
FTB: What is your most treasured childhood memory?
NC: For my seventh birthday my mother bought me a shed, which was amazing as it became my own special little space, and I loved it. Also, my uncle Ernie used to take me out early in the mornings to pick field mushrooms, which was fascinating. He was quite a character as he had no teeth and raced greyhounds. In fact, Benny Hill based his hit song, Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West) on my uncle, and he even appeared on Top Of The Pops!
FTB: How did your career start?
NC: I studied design at Willesden College of Technology and then went to Kingston University, where I studied three-dimensional design. My first job was with a major British design company called Fitch. I then set up on my own and was invited to do a screen test for a new TV series. I found it very hard, but they insisted and I really had to consider it very carefully. But I like new challenges, and I agreed and made two series of Other People’s Houses for Channel 4 and then two series of Honey I Ruined The House, also for Channel 4. Eventually, I was asked to do Grand Designs: Trade Secrets with Kevin McCloud and Deborah Saunt, which was great.
FTB: What is the latest project you are doing with Homebase?
NC: Homebase has launched an online decorating tool that allows you to transform rooms and test out different colour schemes. The ‘create your own look’ app gives access to over 1,000 paints, 200 flooring and tiling choices and 900 wallpaper options. You simply upload a photo of your room, and the world’s your oyster! Homebase launched Decorating Month in February, and I did the first Knowledge and Inspiration session, live on its Facebook page, offering advice and inspiration and generally discussing how to tackle a project.
FTB: What are your predications for the spring trends?
NC: Very rustic, warm and full of character and tactile with lots of texture, wool, rush weaving and hessian. It’s a sort of warm Scandinavian look and very nurturing, which is not surprising in these difficult economic times.
FTB: What are you planning to do in the future?
NC: I may have another project on TV,and my design practice is very busy. I am launching a new range of furniture in September and also developing a house on some land that we own in Devon – it’s going to be a rather special house as I am designing it for other species rather than just humans, so it will be very eco-friendly.