Vickie Nickolls was working as a trend analyser for Lacoste when she fulfilled her lifelong dream of renovating her own family home. All those years spent perfecting the vision in her imagination paid off, because when Vickie uploaded a picture of her newly-renovated bathroom to Houzz—it quickly became one of the most-liked images on the platform!
Realising her love for design, and the fact she was pretty damn good at it, Vickie left her role at Lacoste to set up her design consultancy, Interior Therapy. She only had a makeshift portfolio but that didn't stop the commissions rolling in. In fact, 1 year in Vickie received the Best of Houzz Design award, and then again the next year—and again for 3 consecutive years after!
But for Vickie, design is about more than aesthetics and awards, it is about how her spaces make the client feel.
"Interior Therapy" is a fitting title for the kind of dopamine-inducing clean lines and playful fabrics that define Vickie's work.
We spoke to Vickie about finding inspiration in unlikely places, the benefits of learning as you go and what it's like to see your toilet in a national newspaper!
Laying the foundations
I have always come from a creative background—materials and visuals have always interested me. I trained as a window dresser, but I never followed that path for various reasons and ended up in fashion—eventually a buyer. But the fundamentals of window dressing I still use in my job now: technical drawing, composition and choosing complementary colours.
The threads between fashion and interiors
Much of what I learned during my time in the fashion industry, I now use in my initial design process—like how colours work together in order to build a cohesive scheme and properties of materials. Staying on top of the new and up and coming trends for the season was, again, my job and in my work now it is about pulling out these elements and transferring them into a project.
At Lacoste, I was also heavily involved with branding and how our brand was perceived, that knowledge is now very useful for my own business—to ensure my social media platforms and website are all cohesive and on-brand.
I was starting a new career but, although it was totally different to what I had done previously, so many aspects crossed over.
I had a good eye and knowledge of colour and materials through working in fashion. I often created mood boards for the design teams and had learnt a lot about placement, scale drawings and making things visually pleasing as a window dresser— all of this helped!
A childhood dream
It has always, weirdly, been my dream to buy a house and decorate it how I wanted. I always had clear ideas, so when we brought our first house we really put our stamp on it. Our second home was more of a project and I was on maternity leave at the time so really threw myself into it, learning so much along the way.
I just knew it was something I wanted to do full time or at least something that I could grow into a business.
Making dreams a reality
I enrolled in an online course with the British Academy of Interior Design whilst I was on my maternity leave and alongside this, I used my house and my friend's houses as my projects so that I could start to build a portfolio of my work and demonstrate my style. Once I had enough images, I set up my website, Instagram etc. and the rest is history!
I managed to get halfway through the course when work started to come in and I made the decision to work with actual clients rather than finish the course.
Part of me always wishes I had finished the course but I learnt so much from being on-site. I have picked up smaller courses on specific areas throughout the past 8 years.
Hitting the heights of Houzz fame
That bathroom was the starting point for me, it even got featured in the national paper! It was great press and still is.
I got so much business via that image and still receive client questions about it! Or people send me images of their bathroom which they created to look the same—that's always nice to see!
Inspiration in unlikely places
I read a lot of magazines for inspiration, such as Living Etc and Elle Decor. I also refer to my bookshelves, I have lots of books on colour and how to use it, books on architecture and lighting.
But I also find inspiration in travelling, visiting galleries and exhibitions and attending trade shows to gather knowledge of suppliers and build relationships with them.
You can literally gather inspiration from anywhere and usually unexpectedly.
It may be the smallest detail that can somehow be transferred into a project or a colour combination you see on a different medium that can transfer into fabric choices or paint.
I spent so much time thinking about the name as it had to be just right! Originally it was going to be 'House of Nickolls' then 'Graceful Home'—after my daughter, Grace. But then I Googled other meanings behind the word 'interior' and came across the idea of 'Interior Therapy'.
I do see my work as a form of therapy, my clients trust me to create a happy, functional and safe space for them—which can be amazing for their mindset.
Also, sometimes when two clients have very different tastes you become a therapist mediating between them to agree on that perfect middle ground!
Working closely with colour over the years has definitely made me more confident with bold colour choices and mixing patterns.
I am very specific on using the correct colour and correct tone as, for me, it really does make all of the difference.
Obviously keeping an eye on colour trends is important but I ultimately I believe it's important to choose colours you like and make you happy, not just what is a current trend. The colour you choose for someone's home is so important and has to work with them as a homeowner and reflect their style too.
Visualist's reinvention series spotlights creatives who have let their passions lead them into exciting near careers. It is never too late to do what you love, and these creatives are proud to prove it!