From botanical prints to marble flooring to ambient lighting, when building or renovating there are so many choices that go into styling your home, that more people are seeking professional help, says Tauranga interior designer Lynette Lochhead of Design on James.

It is partly driven by people having less time, but also an increased sense that good interior design adds value to the house.

"More people are valuing the services of a professional as they view their home as a valuable asset and want to elevate it to the next level. We take all the indecision and procrastination away. We also work with a lot of couples who are very indecisive and need guidance or time deprived people."

Lynette began her interior design career 25 years ago when her son was 5 years old and she initially studied under Sylvia Sandford, a leading NZ Interior Designer.

"I developed a flair for supporting my husband's building clients with their styling choices and it didn't take long before I was helping his clients choose carpets, tiles, drapes and furniture."


She established her Design on James studio 15 years ago, named after its location on James Rd, Te Puna.

Located on an orange and kiwifruit orchard, with beautiful surrounding gardens, next to the Lochheads' own home, the concept showroom includes samples and key pieces that Lynette has selected from New Zealand and around the world.

Lynette is constantly keeping up to date with design trends and materials — when we talk she is just back from a trip with other interior designers shopping in Melbourne.

She selects products for the showroom to give people inspiration and to help the consultation process.

Lynette's studio provides inspiration. Photo / George Novak
Lynette's studio provides inspiration. Photo / George Novak

The showroom is a beautiful relaxing space, like a luxurious living area, including a long design table where schemes can be spread out and discussed.

"Our showroom is a taster for product that we have access to. We have room settings so that when choosing pieces for the studio, they need to be able to fit in with our ethos of creative, well made by artisans and will stand the test of time. Nature is a great inspiration as we sit behind the shelter belts in a setting among rural gardens and orchards. Original art pieces can also be wonderful inspiration."

Lynette meets clients both in their home and the showroom — some people want a designer who will take control of the whole process, whereas others want to be involved, so Lynette tailors her services accordingly.

"The client meets in our showroom once I have met them in their environment, then I can show them options. In quite a lot of cases, I am specifying product from the designers' show rooms in Auckland. We can shop together for some of the finishing products or alternatively I give the client ideas on what to look for themselves."


Lynette says Design on James does have a signature style. "Our signature is generally timeless or classic with a twist, with generous proportions, comfort, luxury textiles and well-made bespoke furniture. Our homes have ambience and soul and reflect the owner's lifestyle."

She says it is vital to choose an interior designer you relate to.

"Your interior designer should be able to listen and understand you and you should 'click'. It should be an enjoyable experience and you should always feel as though you can express yourself and have great dialogue."

She also recently worked on a waterfront Mount Maunganui home that she offered design solutions throughout the build, and incorporated beautiful aged timber throughout, starting with the fences, front door and leading inside up the stairs and through to the fireplace.

"I loved tuning into this project and the relaxed but stylish interior was a joy to work on and the outcome amazing. It is such a joy to revisit projects and to see how far they have come. I love most of my projects and especially love getting to know my clients well."

Lynette's studio provides inspiration. Photo / George Novak
Lynette's studio provides inspiration. Photo / George Novak

One of the key benefits of enlisting an interior designer, she says, is the fact that there is a cohesive approach to the whole house. This is key because often clients have great ideas of what they would like, but not how it might all work together.

"While I love focusing on the whole house, a room by room approach works well when there are a lot of details to consider. Most homes keep evolving over time and clients can choose what is important to focus on."

Keeping the project on track and within costs is another of her key roles.

"Once the initial brief is identified, we keep focused and on track. We take on board the bigger picture and visualise the end result."

An interior designer can also provide vital knowledge of how colours, textures work together, as well as experience of what works in terms of proportions and scale.

They can also access products and services that one cannot buy in stores, which adds that much coveted unique factor to home styling.

"We have access to products that the general public are not aware of. We custom make couches, chairs and cushions out of the most divine textiles, which have the X-factor."

Design on James is also able to manage the project taking the headache away.

"We are able to provide subcontractors for flooring, lighting, kitchen and bathroom design who we can trust and are reputable."

The end result, says Lynette, is a home that is not just increased in value, and has the admiration of all your friends, but that you love living in.

"What we are trying to achieve is that a client loves coming home to a space that is uniquely theirs, in surroundings that reflect who they are. Ultimately interior design is that creative expression of who you are, and who and what you love."

Lynette's five must do's when designing the interior of a room:
● Define your style. Style surpasses trends.
● Use lighting, including lamps.
● Choose suitable textiles for your lifestyle.
● Look for point of difference.
● Trust your designer to put everything together for you and show you product you haven't seen before.

Some don't do's:
● Don't presume a colour that works well in your friend's home will work in yours.
● Don't buy furniture on sale if it isn't quite right. You will have to live with that decision for a long time.

Current design trends:
● Botanical prints and wallpaper, organic shapes and colours.
● Round coffee tables using marble and metals.
● Inviting outdoor rooms, complete with infrared heating and ambient lighting.
● Customisation — individual well thought out homes.

Design on James
24a James Rd, Te Puna.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10am-3pm, or by appointment
Phone: 07 5524 060