Meet LitterArty – the female-led interior design studio promising to help give your interiors integrity
We caught up with owner Ruth Kilgour Salmon to hear the truth about being a business owner with a disability, uncover some secret new developments at LitterArty and discover just how she manages to fit interior designers into a mail-order box…
What’s LitterArty all about?
LitterArty is an Interior Design studio with a focus on designing what we call ‘interiors with integrity’, with a no-nonsense approach. We deliver interior design that is honest and coherent and work hard to bring harmony to every space. We’re not looking to baffle clients with technical jargon or data, we just want to make employing an interior designer more attainable and interactive.
At our core is a focus on wellbeing and psychology, which is informed by constant research and a wealth of personal experience that has given me a deep understanding of the impact our surroundings have on our lives.
How do you know what designs best suit your clients’ lifestyles?
For residential projects, we give our clients a detailed questionnaire; this is the backbone on which the project is built. It covers everything from who lives in the house, to what their lifestyle priorities are and which colours to avoid (this is often more important than finding out the ones they like!). We ask them to complete this before any consultation. We then go through their answers in detail with them, before carrying out a ‘site survey’ – where we visit the space to get measurements, make notes of any details and take photos. It’s the same process for our Remote Interior Design Service, only we guide our clients to provide us with those details. Then we’re all set to create the perfect interior concept for them.
The only thing that changes for commercial projects are the questions in the questionnaire. Here we’ll focus more on practical requirements for the space, business practice and any details of existing brand identities or colours.
Tell us more about HowtoHome – you’ve likened it to having an interior designer in a box?!
Yes, because that really sums it up! You’re getting a totally bespoke room design with lots of advice, tips, samples and even some access to trade discounts. Essentially, HowtoHome customers are getting my time and a personally-designed interior concept for their chosen room, all delivered in a box to their door. No fuss, no hassle and at a fraction of the cost. The main difference to our other packages is the face-to-face consultation time, which isn’t included. That being said, I can always provide help whenever it’s needed.
Doesn’t that step on the toes of your other LitterArty services?
It really doesn’t. HowtoHome has its own niche and isn’t really for those who can and want to employ a traditional interior design service. It’s also not suitable for spaces that require construction work or more complex projects.
HowtoHome is for design enthusiasts with an interest in interiors – those who want to get involved and take the reins to make their house a home, but who may lack the confidence or know-how to pull it all together. That’s exactly where HowtoHome comes in: it’s an interactive reference point that will help you make your ideal interior a reality.
Would you say HowtoHome bridges the gap between a full interior design service and leaving customers to their own devices?
That’s exactly it. The idea from the start was to provide a more accessible and affordable service – breaking barriers in the interior design world, which is too often seen as elitist and non-inclusive.
HowtoHome is also designed to be used at your own pace, which is another essential factor. When working on projects with traditional interior designers, everything needs to be done within a relatively rigid timescale, and this can mean a lot of expenditure in a short period. In reality, many rooms have to be redesigned in stages, as we can’t always afford to replace all our furnishings in one go. Clients of HowtoHome can use the design and shopping list as a guide to revisit as and when they want.
We’ve got a bit of an exclusive – you’re about to launch a new concept store, Cloth + Casa. What can we expect?
When entering Cloth+Casa, we want all your senses to be stimulated – from the décor to the spatial layout, the music and the scents. The retail direction is to provide our customers with fantastic wardrobe and home essentials from an array of brands, with a particular focus on ethical and sustainable practice. We will also work to champion independent brands and those who manufacture in the UK as much as possible. With core staples and occasional collaborations and pop-ups along the way, we aim to make Cloth+Casa a real destination.
We’re still very much in the early stages but we’re hoping to launch later this year. We’re just in the process of confirming our physical retail space, so stay tuned!
What does it mean to you that you can develop LitterArty like this?
It means everything. It’s such an exciting time and it may have never come had I not pushed myself. I’m a tad risk-adverse, so this is a huge deal for me!
My work with LitterArty grew out of my experiences, but mostly it’s been a lifelong passion and determination to forge my own career path. The whole process of setting up everything from scratch to where we are today has been a labour of love and not without its difficulties. But it’s been so worth it.
What have been some of the difficulties you’ve faced along the way?
When I say difficulties, of course I mean the obvious bumps in the road that come along for any start up, along with the simple fact of negotiating as a young woman in business. But I’m also referring to some more specific challenges I’ve faced being someone with a lifelong, quite major disability. I have a very rare and complex medical condition that can affect many aspects of my life and make everyday living difficult at times. That being said, it has never stopped me – as you can see! But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it has added to the challenges of building and pushing my business forward.
What advice would you give others with disabilities who are hoping to start their own business?
Do it! It’s bloody hard work, but you’re made of strong stuff! You really have to dig into the bottom of your boots for the energy at times but, ironically that’s also the perk – you’re making your own schedule and can control the workload to fit. It might mean you work later than you’d like, or that you don’t have days off some weeks, but when you do what you love it’s worth it, and the feeling of achievement and pride in yourself is so worth it.
And how does being your own boss compare with working for someone else?
I always struggled with jobs: do I declare my condition or not? Because, from personal experience, true equal opportunities sadly doesn’t exist. That aside, when I was working for larger organisations, I would seriously struggle with the apprehension that I was being viewed in a certain way, which resulted in an innate need to push (often too hard) to prove myself. It’s difficult enough to suffer with chronic illness, but the guilt and stress you put on yourself to battle how you think others might judge you is really tough.
As a result, though, you do become very resilient and determined, (or, as my husband would say, stubborn…!). I knew I had to make my own career path, not only for my own self-worth, but for my sanity. Since I was born, I’ve marched to the beat of my own drum (according to my Mum), so why change that now?!