Juliet and Amanda are the incredible double-act behind R&B Consultants; they've been in the designing and upcycling business for decades and have a wealth of experience and knowledge at their fingertips. They're also the genius behind the beautiful DIY projects in HomeStyle magazine and we are constantly inspired by their incredible talent and orignality – they really are at the top of their game.
So, we are thrilled to announce that from July 23rd, they will be starting a creative agony aunt column right here on the website! Submit your quandaries to us via email on firstname.lastname@example.org, then Juliet and Amanda will jump into action and come to your rescue. It doesn't matter how big or how small, whether it's decorating, upcycling, making or styling, these two will be able to put you right.
But first, here are a few questions we asked Juliet and Amanda to learn a little more about their history and inspiration, with a few of their brilliant HomeStyle projects peppered inbetween.
1 Tell us about your creative background...
JB: 'I did my degree at Camberwell, then after I left I designed and made high fashion, erotic underwear, maternity wear, baby goods and then wrote lots of craft and design books.'
AR: 'After art school I had a successful career as a printmaker artist. I came from an artistic, can-do background, so designing and decorating my house was a natural development. It soon lead to interior design and magazine styling commissions.'
[Tie dye cushions, issue three, page 87]
2 What inspired you to start R&B Designs?
JB: 'We met through Twitter, although a mutual friend had been trying to get us together long before that! We immediately hit it off; Amanda is a great designer and we are honest with eachother and bounce ideas off one another, as well as laughing a lot.'
AR: 'Juliet is a ball of energy with an enthusiastic attitude. It’s a luxury to have someone like her to spark ideas off and it really helps to have a good laugh when the going gets tough.'
3 Tell us about each HomeStyle magazine make?
JB: 'There are so many – where do we start? We choose a mixture of things, some are quick ideas like the occasional table made from a bin and a tray (issue two), or spraying metal lampshades matt copper to get a designer look for next to nothing (issue one). Other projects take longer, such as the bed head (issue two) or the bench with hairpin legs (issue one), but DIY projects really can save hundreds of pounds.'
AR: 'I love the green tallboy cupboard with its vibrant Rouseauesque jungly images (issue three).We discovered the exotic wallpaper for the transformation in a very unpromising charity shop, we swooped on the roll desperate to find a project for it!'
[Copper pendant, issue one, page 89]
4 Which HomeStyle project is your favourite?
JB: 'My favourite are the tie-dye cushions in issue three. I enjoy experimenting with dyes and paint and love that blue and white look, it’s forever coming back in a new guise in both interiors and fashion.'
AR: 'It was great bringing a dull swivel chair to life in that same issue. Transforming it into a mid-century modern statement piece by recovering it with vintage print fabric and crushed raspberry velvet was a joy.'
5 Which was most difficult to bring to life??
JB: 'Dip-dyed plates were troublesome at first. After dipping the plates in paint, the colour came out unevenly, so we experimented to find the best way to get an even coating, and you can read our tips in issue three!'
AR: 'One of the projects we've done for issue four (out November 1st) was the most tricky for me, but I like to spend time mulling over a project, messing about with techniques before I start, as it makes the doing much quicker and easier.'
6 How do you come up with such creative ideas?
JB: 'The best way to describe it is to say we all have different skills; some people are good at maths, I have always had ideas. Not always good ones, but often something that can be worked on and developed.'
AR: 'We both have lots of ideas going on, and I recharge my batteries by being out and about at museums, exhibitions, theatre and car boot fairs, looking.'
7 What is your design process?
JB: 'When we are given a design brief, we come up with ideas separately and then get together and work on them.'
AR: 'Designing is much easier with two heads. Inevitably, there can be pitfalls along the way, but it’s great accessing someone else’s know how to break through blocks when they do crop up.'
8 You make so many things for others, but what is your personal style??
JB: 'I like colour and try to use it in my designs. I use colour to accessorise in my own home – rather than decorating with it – as it’s a quick and inexpensive way to make changes, and stops me becoming bored with one shade!'
AR: 'I love an eclectic mix of old and new; bringing things together to work in a new way. There’s always some graphic black and white mixed in with blocks of colour.'
9 Share a few things you've made for your own homes
JB: 'Recently I made a cushion cover from a sweater that had shrunk – I loved it so much I couldn't bear to throw it away. I covered an old chair in a patchwork made from vintage shirts for my book The Shirt off his Back – it's brightly coloured and a bit wacky, I really love it.'
AR: 'I was given a very tired chest of drawers that took a lot of preparation before I painted it up. It was a labour of love. Eventually, after featuring in magazine shoots and moving with me a couple of times, I sold it for a good price. It taught me the time put into preparation is a sound investment.'
[Hairpin leg bench, issue one, p88]
10 How do you stay so inspired and on-trend?
JB: 'We go to lots of trade shows and exhibitions, we constantly discuss what we see, like and why things do or don't work. We analyse and comment on trends where they are coming from and where they are going to.'
AR: 'Going to art school is a great training; you are taught to look all the time, inspiration can come when you are least expecting it, from the most surprising things.'
11 What's the best piece of decorating advice you have ever been given??
JB: 'If you move into a new place, don't paint it immediately. Live in it for a while so you can see how it looks at different times of day and season. That way when you come to painting you won't make expensive mistakes.'
AR: 'When you’re choosing paint colours, buy sample pots, then paint them on large pieces of paper, stick them on the walls and move them around the room with the lights on and off to check the colour is right in all lights at different times of the day.'
Aren't they incredible? Remember, if you'd like them to answer any of your questions, just email email@example.com. We hope to hear from you soon!
[All photos Paul Craig]