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With over 40 years of experience in the Interiors Industry, we're delighted to introduce interior designer Penny Morrison to our Meet The Maker series. Penny shares her insights into her homeware business and where she gets her interior inspiration from. She gives us some top tips on tablescapes and chooses her favourite wedding presents for a timeless wedding gift list. Read on for Penny's brilliant advice and be inspired by her beautiful range of homeware, available exclusively for your wedding list in our online showroom (it's top of all our wish lists!).
I set up my business about 40 years ago . . . I think. Far too long ago to remember exactly how many years! I had been working in property development and quickly found that I had a real knack for the design side of things. I started my interior design company which then expanded into launching my own fabric range and most recently, launching a full home accessories collection. It’s been a very natural progression from one thing to the next.
I’ve always had a passion for design ever since I was really young but it wasn’t until I found opportunities to explore it properly while I was working in property development that I seriously considered a career in it. I started decorating showrooms and my interior design business grew from there. I loved putting together the designs and the clients really loved my work. The beauty of it all is that it really doesn’t feel like a job for me. I truly love what I do – I don’t know what else I would be if I wasn’t an interior designer.
Every single one of our products is sourced personally by myself and the Penny Morrison team. I take a lot of inspiration from my travels as well as my interest in history and antiques. I then work closely with the team to create fresh designs that will complement a plethora of styles and spaces. What I love about everything that we create is that it’s all made to be mix and matched. You’d be surprised by how many pieces that look like they might clash actually work beautifully together. I really think that great design is about being a bit playful and experimental with what you do and the Penny Morrison products really embody that.
I find inspiration everywhere but I think one of the most formative times for me when it comes to design was my upbringing in South Africa. There’s a real balance between bohemian-chic and polished comfort that many homes in South Africa have and I try to achieve this in all of my designs. I love maximising on space and making rooms and homes feel as wide and open as possible. I think this approach is more common in houses in warmer climates but I love introducing that same feeling to spaces here in the UK too.
Other than that, I really do find inspiration everywhere and I always use my phone to take snaps of things I find beautiful or interesting. Travel is another huge source of inspiration for me. I particularly love the textile crafts in India – watching the artisans block printing in the markets is absolutely amazing. I love the bold and geometric tiles that you find all over Istanbul and of course, the beautifully detailed floral motifs we see throughout British textile history. I could go on and on about where I get my inspiration but I guess what’s so unique to us is how we take these sources and transform them into something bold, current and fresh.
To name my favourite product would be impossible! I love all of them! But if I had to choose my favourite products at the moment, I would have to say some of the table linens that we’ve recently launched. There’s nothing easier than throwing on a tablecloth to really elevate a dining set up and instead of a bland white one, why not go for something with colour? The whole range is beautiful but I must admit that the Simla Pink and Green table cloth is probably the one I use most often. The colours and patterns are just so whimsical and guests compliment me on it all the time.
The journey of the Penny Morrison brand has been so organic and it’s continuing to grow in a way that feels very natural. At the end of last year, we launched a new website which has allowed us to sell online directly to clients all over the world. Our team is also growing which I’m very excited about. At the moment, our plans are just to keep doing what we do so well – creating beautiful designs for our wonderful clients.
Keep the lighting low and place several votive candles on the table to cast a beautiful soft glow across the room. For some added colour, put the candles into jewel-toned glass hurricane lamps and you’ll get a gorgeous rainbow effect. I also love using some low backlighting – never underestimate the importance of dimmers!
Use different table linens to create added depth and interest to your table set up. Layering different colours and patterns will make your dining table look like a work of art! Don’t be afraid of clashing patterns – you’ll be surprised by what looks good together so always try out different combinations.
I love using flowers to make a tablescape more beautiful. There are so many different approaches that you can take with this, whether that’s using lots of little vases with mini floral arrangements or larger bunches spread out across the length of the table. See what you have to use at home as well for jars! I collect old bath oil bottles, remove the labels and clean them up to use as little bud flowers for wildflowers that I pick in the garden.
Our home is surrounded by the stunning Welsh countryside and it really is a quintessentially British country home. When I was designing it, it was important to me to create that warm and cosy atmosphere that everyone associates with country homes, while injecting it with the playfulness and boldness that is so integral to my style. The home really does strike that perfect balance and as a result, it’s harmoniously eclectic – think oil paintings hung on floral wallpapers, vibrant suzanis thrown over the arms of upholstered sofas and embroidered cushions piled on top of each other – and our dogs piled on top of them!
Choose wisely. Use this opportunity of creating a wedding list to fill your home with beautiful things that reflect your personal style as a couple, and pick items that you will actually use. What’s the point in getting a gorgeous crystal tumbler set if you never use it? Rely on expert advice. The Wedding Present Company team are unrivalled in that department!
Take the time to go to local flea markets and antique shows. If you put in a little effort, I guarantee that you’ll find treasures for your home that you can buy on a shoestring budget. I love spending hours browsing in French markets buying stunning baskets or weaves for the kitchen or even for log baskets in our sitting rooms. The whole experience is so satisfying; like a treasure hunt with a bit of friendly haggling to get the best deal possible!
It’s such a wonderful company that showcases some of the most beautiful products all in one place. I also love that so many of the brands on the website are British! I love working with local businesses and especially during this difficult time, it’s so important to support these independent local businesses.