From Interior Designer to Online Vintage Store Owner
Selling home decor items online is a natural addition to the portfolio of services for many interior designers. The My Deco Marketing ‘Know Your Niche’ blogs focus on designers who have followed their passions to create a niche. This not only defines their ideal customer but also supports their business and lifestyle goals. In this blog meet Aline Mackenzie-Reid of The Textured Room, interior designer turned online vintage decor store owner.
Aline curates a beautiful collection of vintage decor which she photographs in her own home to sell online. Her signature english country house style is gaining a devoted following through her beautiful instagram account @thetexturedroom and was recently photographed to appear in Country Living magazine. Aline shares how she moved from the fast paced world of commercial interior design to build her new online vintage business. In doing so she combined her passion for antique and vintage furniture into her interior design practice.
How did you first start as an interior designer?
On an amateur basis, and I imagine like many designers, I spent many hours as a child rearranging the furniture in my bedroom. Then I tried to expand my influence to the rest of the house until my parents put a stop to it! Following this I started my professional career about 20 years ago, slowly working my way through from junior to senior posts in some of the most creative design practices in London, including Fox Linton Associates, Ezra Attia Associates and then finally to Hotel Design Inc, where I was Senior FF&E designer/stylist.
We had huge amounts of fun as a team working on concept and completion of 5 to 6 star hotels around the world. From contemporary to classic as well as high- end residential projects, including some for celebrities. About 12 years ago I started my own design practice. I delivered numerous commercial projects for restaurants and cafes as well as houses and apartments in central London.
Tell us about a favourite project you’ve worked on.
This is split evenly between hotel projects in Algeria and Egypt. With a brief to transform a luxury hotel in Algiers where the scale of the project was rather challenging and the design brief super-contemporary. Expectations were incredibly high. I was fascinated by the need to deliver concepts that would appeal to many different cultures. Quite a different challenge than, say, designing the interior of a London hotel. I also very much enjoyed working on the redesign of an old, French colonial hotel in Cairo, located just on the banks of the Nile. On balance Algiers wins, simply because it was whole lot safer when crossing the road!
What’s your design style?
I’m originally influenced by French and Italian design, probably because I was born and raised in Paris. However, I have gradually fallen deeply in love with the simplicity and singularity of English design.
Through life, I think your taste evolves constantly. Influenced as much by what life throws at you as where you live and the life stage you are at. Today, after living in London for more than 20 years, I live in the beautiful East Sussex countryside. I know my attention and interest have shifted away from highly sophisticated spaces. I still appreciate these but these days I’m now drawn towards designs that are more influenced by nature.
Although I still love the French mid-century era as well as for instance contemporary Belgian and Spanish product designers, I have come to really appreciate the work of English designers and artists, for example William Morris and Eric Gill.
Starting The Textured Room as an online vintage store
Three years ago I started selling vintage and decorative antiques on the high street. I have always been passionate about vintage shopping for myself, so at the time it just felt the most natural next step for me. Whilst being a busy mum I was able to apply my styling skills in this new enterprise. However, social media means things move on very quickly and a lot of buying is done online. So six months ago I rebranded and launched “The Textured Room”, an online-only vintage and decorative antiques store which I combine with my interior design practice where I design local interiors that improve people’s lives. I’m passionate about making homes more beautiful, with a real emphasis on nature, textures and sustainability.
What do you look for when choosing items to sell?
I carefully curate all items myself, as I am a big believer in things going right if you really believe in them. I try always to just be myself in all aspects of the business. From my design for the website to the interior designs I deliver for my clients. This is especially true in the items I find and then sell-on (just occasionally keeping some for myself!).
I have a real passion for what I do. If you really enjoy yourself with your creativity, for example when taking pictures, it radiates and shows through in your business. I am all for sustainability, so for me buying vintage is just that. Of course you can mix the old with the new – and that’s fun too. However vintage pieces add something that a brand new item will never deliver in an interior.
They have their own stories, they’ve often had pride of place in someone else’s life many years before. As a result of being owned, loved and handled, they are a little imperfect, but all the more beautiful for being so. I like to think that when I buy for my store, I am looking for beauty in imperfection.
What challenges did you face transfering to an online store?
The challenges I am facing with the store online are probably the fact that people need to find us. So one of my answers to this is getting on social media as much as possible. I mainly focus on Instagram and Pinterest. I probably don’t do enough activity on these channels at the minute as I am still working things through and learning, but I aim to have this all sorted in the near future.
What tips do you have for creating perfect pictures?
You need good light, a good camera, then throw what you like together and keep experimenting. I don’t really have any technical tips for creating good photos. I just try and show my items and interiors for what they are, and enjoy styling each room and item as best as possible. Primarily I think it is important to try to establish a consistent visual style. Keeping simple clean lines is also essential.
Tell us about shooting your home for Country Living magazine.
Behind the scenes during the Country Living shoot last month was actually very simple, much more so than I anticipated. It was all about light and continuity of each scene.
I learned a lot about taking a good photograph, just by watching them at work. But most of all I had a lot of fun with the team and was really in my element all day! What better day than making things look beautiful all over again!
What’s your perfect interior
My perfect interior would start with the all-important framing . Key original features such as fireplaces, plain or painted floor boards, attractive windows, interesting doors. Then, with a clear functional purpose, it would be filled with beautiful vintage pieces. Occasional contemporary items where they fuse well, but topped off with gorgeous natural fabrics such as linens, wool and cotton.
My perfect interior would need to have had a great deal of attention to detail brought to it, with many different textures such as timber, metal, ceramic, and natural materials and tones, all inspired by nature. Textures are to me the most important ingredient in a feel good design, hence The Textured Room.
Most of all, it would have to be perfect in its imperfection, with the right amount of meticulously curated pieces of vintage in it. Ultimately, a good and successful interior is one where it feels good to be in, rather than just stunning to look at.
Discover Aline’s curated collection of online vintage finds at The Textured Room and follow her on instagram @thetexturedroom
Really interesting post to read Fiona – thank you for sharing !
Thank so much I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Great post Fiona! Very interesting read. Good luck with the Amara Awards!
Thank you and good luck to you too!