Design for a living: the inside story with Laura Stephens.

As with many of the best life trajectories, Laura Stephens’ route to interior design was not a linear one. She first worked as a Geography teacher, running her own department in a secondary school, before realising that that her schedule no longer quite coalesced with her life and another role she had just taken on: as a mother to a newborn. And thus motherhood prompted her own rebirth, for which she turned back to her childhood love: interior decorating.

After training at Chelsea School of Art & Design, she initially set up a small business sourcing and restoring furniture before gradually building up a portfolio that now spans everything from pied-à-terres to large London townhouses. Her feminine, elegant style, as well as her bespoke approach, has won an enviable roster of clients as well as a place on House & Garden’s The List.

She says, ‘I believe interiors should be beautiful and uplifting. Interiors should elevate your mood and bring you pleasure every single day. I create interiors specific to my clients tastes and needs but there is the same thread of the use of colour, beautiful details, elegance and layering of pattern, texture and light with every project. I truly believe that home should be a sanctuary and my aim is to give my clients a place which is uniquely theirs and somewhere they can retreat to in comfort and joy.’

Here, Laura opens the door to her beautiful world and shares some of the great loves of her life.

Favourite place in all the world?

A secluded beach in Northern Brazil where I went with my husband for our honeymoon – including drinking caipirinha’s from a coconut.

Dream holiday?

I am desperate to visit my sister who lives in Australia… I just know I’ll love the cities, outdoor life and the coffee.

Most coveted item right now?

A Soane rattan scalloped pendant light will forever remain on my wish list as sadly I can’t ever imagine affording it.

Proudest professional moment to date?

Having a recent project I worked on with a client (and friend) published in April’s Homes and Garden. It was such a labour of love and I sourced every last detail, so it was so lovely to see it in print.

Your dream future project?

I would absolutely love to design a little quirky independent hotel and have free reign. I get the biggest kick in my work in the ‘transformation’ process and I would love to create an entirely different little world. It’s rare to have licence to design every detail.

Who has been your most inspiring mentor, professionally or personally?

My dear friend Michelle Scott-Lynch, founder of hair care product Bouclème - she’s built an empire from scratch and is always there for me with great advice. She’s such an inspiration.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

My home right now because I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. However, I do see myself in a bijoux Georgian townhouse flat in Bath at some stage later in my life.

What book is on your nightstand/ kindle right now?

I am in a book club with the best set of women and we are currently reading Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson.

Best film you’ve seen recently?

The only film I’ve watched recently is the latest Bond at a private viewing as my friend was the operational lighting director. I am really not a Bond fan but I really loved it, I liked the fact it was moody and dark. Oh, and the lighting was great Adam!

Best binge-watched TV show?

The original Danish The Killing. It was the best of it’s kind and Sarah Lund was the best flawed detective with the best jumpers.

Top podcast of the moment?

I really love Chairish with Michael Boodro. It’s a very behind the scenes nuts and bolts podcast about Interior Design and I just love Michael Boodro.

Your hero?

Michelle Obama - always gracious in adversity. ‘When they go low, you go high’ is my mantra.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

Well lots of people say I look like my blond long haired mini daschund Lulu although I’m yet to be convinced this is a compliment!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was little I wanted to be a fashion designer, so not a million miles away from what I ended up doing.

Worst job you’ve ever done?

Pulling pints in a grim pub with a super mean landlady.

Favourite dish to cook?

I can’t lie, my husband is the cook of the family – my repertoire is small. Luke always jokes that if it’s my turn cook it will be mushroom risotto – ‘again’!

Favourite café/ restaurant?

I have to choose a pub – The Beckford in Wiltshire run by our friend Charlie Luxton. It’s the best place in the world to hang out for a relaxed but elegant stay with great food and even better vibe.

What tune always makes you want to dance?

Anything by Chaka Khan.

Favourite website or app?

App has to be Instagram. I love creating windows into my design world. I do love the House and Garden website – it proves to be constantly inspiring.

Most useful thing on your desk?

A massive jug of water which I force myself to get to the bottom of by the end of a day in the office.

Which five people, dead or alive, would you find most interesting to be stuck in a lift with?

Michelle Obama, Veere Grenney, Hamish Bowles, Caitlin Moran, Eddie Izzard.

Favourite building?

Cliched I know, but I just love the Art Deco elegance of the Chrysler building in Manhattan.

Favourite Instagrammer?

I just love the posts of @marianne_evennou. She is a French interior designer with the chicest, distinctly chic French aesthetic.

Your screensaver?

My kids and dog.

What would your biography be called?

She Lived Life In Colour.

What would be your epitaph?

Hope it would be something on the lines of ‘kind and loving mother, wife, daughter etc’ but I feel it would only be true to mention ‘clumsy, forgetful, infuriatingly OCD’ to give the balanced picture.

By Nancy Alsop
August 2022

Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.