I first met Elizabeth when she had just moved to Singapore and, in little over a year, she has made giant strides and set up her own interiors firm, E&A Interiors, along with her business partner Chlöe Elkerton.
Before coming to Singapore, she worked as an interior designer in both London and New York for just under ten years. It was here that she came across many suppliers that had absolutely no presence in Asia. She decided to represent them over here and now has over 30 brands of beautiful fabrics and wallpapers that you won’t find anywhere else in the region, many of which are hand blocked or woven by hand.
E&A’s design studio, just off River Valley, offers the full spectrum of interior design, from full renovation projects to supplying just one piece of custom furniture. What I am particularly keen on is that they are also just as happy to make you a few cushions or lampshades from their mass of fabrics and, below, Elizabeth discusses two of her favourite budget options which are both affordable and easy to do yourself. E&A Interiors also showcase lights made by the unbeatably beautiful UK company Vaughan Designs.
Over to you Elizabeth:
6.40am I wake up and go to the gym around the corner from where I live to do a spinning session. This really sets me up for the week and if don’t do it on a Monday morning I feel very groggy for the rest of the day!
8.30am After I have popped home to shower and change, I have a quick breakfast of fresh fruit or poached eggs with avocado. I then walk to work which takes about 20 minutes.
9am Our design studio is a really beautiful and creative space (this is it, above) and I love going to work every day.
Once I get there, Chloe, my business partner, and I will have a catch up meeting to discuss the week ahead. Either one of us will usually have had a client meeting over the weekend, so we swap notes on this as well as on what’s in the pipeline for the next five days, including any installations.
10.30am Every single day is so varied. I will normally have a site meeting to check on the progress of one of my projects in the late morning. This will involve checking any carpentry that is going in or any pieces of furniture that are being delivered.
11.30am I head back to the studio to work on either drawings or fabric schemes for clients as well as answer any enquiries that we have had.
We also run quarterly courses in our design studio – this is a fun morning packed with design tips as well as us answering any interiors queries. For these courses we are constantly thinking of clever ways to achieve an interior designed look on a budget. For example, some of our clients aren’t in the market to custom make a sofa – maybe they just want to update an existing sofa that they already own. A sofa requires an unbeliveable amount of fabric to recover it. A good tip is to just recover one section of it – the seat cushions for instance which requires a quarter of the fabric and instantly makes the sofa feel customised and new. A few of our clients have the good old Ektorp from Ikea and love this tweak as it means your sofa is refreshed and isn’t instantly recognizable as coming from Ikea (see below).
We use a lot of wallpapers. Some of our clients are worried about this in the humid Singapore climate, but we rarely encounter problems and they all tend to be pretty long lasting. If you’re living in a rental property, like I am, you are unlikely to want to spend money on wallpapers. A good tip is to make your own huge, framed, papered panels – you could position them either side of a bed for instance – see the example pictured below. This means that when you move, your wallpaper can come with you. Ikea sell large, full-height mirrors with beveled edges and a really nice idea is to paper the centre section of the mirror with a striking wallpaper, giving you a wonderful piece of instant art. The beveled edges frame it beautifully:
Creating an interior designed look doesn’t have to include major works or break the bank. Just adding some scatter cushions in a bold design can transform a room and we love patterned lampshades for adding a splash of colour and for making a space feel more homely.
1.30pm I usually have lunch at my desk. I bring in packed lunches from home as our design studio is on Kim Yam Road so there aren’t many places nearby to dash and grab something from. My lunch will normally consist of quinoa salad with goats cheese and roasted veg or pulses with feta and grated carrot or courgette. I have just got a new Spiralizer which I am obsessed with, so I love courgette spaghetti with homemade pesto.
2.30pm As Chloe and I are the business owners we are responsible for every aspect of the business. This can be challenging and stressful at times but also incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. An hour out of our afternoons is often spent discussing future advertising or any editorial that we have coming up in the magazines.
4pm We often have companies coming in to show us new products, such as bathroom tiles or flooring, so I will have a couple of meetings a week dedicated to exploring new materials. We read a lot of interior design magazines and books and like to keep updated on what is new in the world of interior design. Some of our favourite interiors blogs include Mark D Sikes, Habitually Chic and A-Gent-of-Style.
6pm Many of our clients can only meet us after work or at the weekends, for the simple reason that they work too. I will usually have a meeting at around 6pm to show a client any new drawings that we have done for a renovation project or to review any furniture designs or fabric schemes. We work incredibly closely with our clients to create their perfect, tailor made home and this process involves a lot of meetings to fully understand the way they like to live.
7pm I walk home. We live in a shophouse which I love. When I get home I will often skype my mother or sister in the UK. Tim, my fiancé, gets back at about 8pm and we will have dinner together, usually some homemade soup or salmon with veg – something quite light if it’s early on in the week.
All images courtesy of Elizabeth, bar the very top one which is by Michael Bernabe for Expat Living. Read their feature on Elizabeth’s shophouse she talks about above, here.