In the first edition of our new ‘in-conversation’ series, we sat down with Enass Mahmoud, the Creative Director of Décor by Enass.
Enass is a young and successful interior designer based in London. Since opening her own shop four years ago, Enass has been working her way through the design scene and has become one of the most exciting designers to watch.
Starting off her journey in the homeware and soft furnishing industry, she worked for companies like M&S Home and Allegra Hicks before opening her own shop. Although Enass admits it’s not been an easy road since going out on her own, she wouldn’t trade it for the world.
After some bonding over the difficulties of name pronunciation, Michel’le and Enass jumped right into the conversation.
Starting out in interior design
M: So, how did you get started in the interior design game?
E: I’ve always wanted to do design. I remember when I was younger and my dad used to bring me home lego pieces and I would create these rooms and decorate them. I’ve always loved it. I never wanted to run my own business but it sort of just happened. I studied surface design at university, similar to product design but I was always drawn back to interior design. Though I was kind of nervous because, you know, I didn’t necessarily have a design degree. However, if you have the eye for it, you have the eye for it.
M: Oh cool, and how did you go about getting your first client?
E: It was really nerve-wracking. So I found my first client on Twitter. They put out a tweet, saying we have a VIP suite at the O2 arena, are there any interior designers who’d be interested. And I thought: “you know what, what do I have to lose?” So I contacted them and they got back to me. I went to see the space, did a few mood boards and showed some ideas and when I met with them they loved the concept, they loved what I brought to the table and they just gave me a chance.
"And I thought, what do I have to lose?"
M: How much would you typically need to spend to change your average home into a luxury home just by revamping the interior?
E: It varies and depends obviously on the size of your home. It depends on the location. It also depends on what you’re going to do with it afterwards, so are you going to rent it or live there for the next ten years? So it does vary, but if you do have a space, and you want to represent luxury aesthetics, I would say you’d be looking to spend, at least £4,000 - £5,000 at least. People don’t really understand how much money goes into designing your home and that’s not even including the designer fee, that’s just literally what it would take to flip each room.
M: Wow, and what about the typical time frame for redesigning a home?
E: Well nowadays with Coronavirus and everything, there are a lot of delays in delivering furniture. The average delivery at the moment is 2-3 weeks, maybe 4 plus. It also depends as well, like, whether you’re a freelancer or if you’re a one-woman band, and you don’t necessarily have a team of designers with you, then it will take a little bit longer.
M: What tips would you give those who want to change their space but don’t have the budget for a designer?
E: Uhm, it depends on the space. If it were the living room, for example, I would say soft furnishing is good to start with. And then work your way up. Invest in some really nice cushions and throws, some flowers. Add some accessories, artwork etc. Accessorise your space and try to work with what you have.
Impact of Coronavirus
M: So you’ve just mentioned Coronavirus and the effects it’s already having. What changes have you seen happening because of this pandemic?
E: You know what, I’ve actually seen an increase in people wanting to redecorate and change their homes. I’ve seen an increase in DIYs. There are a lot of inquiries right now because people have been stuck in their homes for weeks on end and they’re wanting to change their space. Obviously, there are still restrictions in terms of going into people’s properties and working on it but at least the first stage of enquiry has been happening.
The Client's perspective
M: Cool, so if we take a step back and look at people who are selling (landlords or estate agents etc) how important is home staging to them and how much value does it add to a property when it’s being marketed?
E: It adds great value to your property. At the end of the day, a lot of people in general struggle with seeing what a space would look like when they live in it, so staging your home to showcase to potential buyers, especially if it’s a luxury space or high end, is very valuable.
M: In your experience, what’s the worst kind of client an interior designer can have?
E: Clients who have zero ideas of what they like or what they want, like zero. You know, you can show them five different designs and they still don’t know what they want. But at the same time, you could get clients who think they know everything and want to basically take your job. They’ve hired you but they actually want to take over and think they can do your job. So, yeah, I’d say those kinds of clients are the most difficult, haha.
M: When it comes to you staging or designing a home, where do you typically source your ideas, products and inspiration?
“Instagram and Pinterest play a huge role in where I source my ideas.”
E: I think in this day and age, everything is available at the click of a button so you don’t necessarily have to go out and source for items. Instagram and Pinterest play a huge role in where I get my ideas.
M: Do you have a specific design style that defines you?
E: That’s a really good question. I would say I love colour. I love experimenting. I love pushing boundaries. I’m not the typical white-on-white-on-white or grey-on-grey-on-grey type of interior designer. I like textures and patterns and prints and you know there are clients who are scared of using bold statement colours or bold features but I like pushing those boundaries and kind of, persuading them that you can bring in colour and you can bring in texture and bold statement pieces into your spaces without it being too overpowering.
M: Love it. What’s your favourite room to design?
E: Living rooms. I love designing living rooms. You can do so much with them, depending on the space and size and client and I think living rooms are a great way to kind of showcase your personality as an individual.
M: What is the strangest design request you’ve had?
E: Uhm, maybe not a strange request but a little weird. A client wanted me to tile on top of previous tiles.
M: Why would anyone ask that?
E: Just looking to cut costs, I think though, in the long run, it would cost them more money.
M: What would your message be to young, especially young Black creative’s, looking to get into interior design?
E: Build your skill. Work on it whenever you can. Ask for help. Don’t copy. Create your own aesthetics and create your own style. Really invest your time into your skill and your craft. And don’t let anyone try down talking your price or things like that. If that is what you believe you should earn, it’s what you should earn. And try putting yourself out there as much as you can.
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Normette Homes specialise in property investment and tenant sourcing.